A High Fiber Diet: Nature's Disease Fighter
A high fiber diet provides significant benefits when it comes to helping the body fight disease.
Fiber & Cholesterol
Fiber helps promote healthy cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Cholesterol, a fatty substance produced by the body and found naturally in animal foods, cannot be eliminated by the body in its fat-soluble state. Instead, the liver uses an intricate chemical process to change the cholesterol into a water-soluble substance. Once this occurs, the water-soluble cholesterol is deposited into bile (a digestive fluid also produced by the liver). The bile is then sent to the gallbladder for storage and later use. Part of the function of bile is to assist with fat digestion. It also helps move toxins out of the body.
The components of bile are bile salts and internal toxins such as already-used cholesterol, histamine, hormones and red blood cells. When fat is consumed, the gallbladder is stimulated to release small amounts of bile into the digestive tract. This bile, along with all of its components (including cholesterol) are bound up in fiber and carried out of the body in a bowel movement. If an individual is lacking fiber in his or her diet, the toxins have nothing to bind to and end up being reabsorbed through the blood vessels lining the colon. A high-fiber diet will effectively absorb water-soluble cholesterol, reducing blood cholesterol levels.
Fiber & Diabetes
Fiber also helps prevent diabetes by naturally regulating the body's blood sugar. When fiber-rich carbohydrate foods are eaten in their natural (unprocessed) state, the sugars that they contain are bound up in dietary fiber, making it harder for the body to get at them. Their breakdown and subsequent absorption is then slowed, making their entry into the bloodstream more gradual and consistent. This in turn helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Fiber & High Blood Pressure
Studies have shown that fiber can also help prevent high blood pressure, a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. A recent study from Tufts University in Boston found that people who consumed more fiber reduced their systolic blood pressure by an average of 7 points in six weeks. Blood pressure is measured by the ratio of systolic pressure to diastolic pressure. Systolic is pressure exerted as the heart beats, while diastolic pressure refers to the residual pressure between beats. When insulin (a hormone released by the pancreas during digestion) is secreted too quickly, it can lead to a sharp rise in blood pressure. However, because fiber helps to slow down the conversion of carbohydrates during the digestive process, insulin levels rise gradually and blood pressure remains at a healthy level.
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