Is fiber a carbohydrate?

In this brief article we will answer the query,” is fiber a carbohydrate?” We will explain why fiber is considered a carb. We will also discuss the 2 types of fiber which are soluble and insoluble fiber. We will briefly look at some health benefits of fiber.

Is fiber a carbohydrate?

Yes, fiber is a complex carbohydrate that is found in plant-based foods such as fruits, veggies and whole grain products. Animal products such as meat and dairy products do not contain any fiber. 

Fiber has two forms which are soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is very important for health as it assists with regular bowel movements and helps in maintaining a healthy digestive system.

Why is fiber considered a carb?

Carbohydrates are used by the body as a source of energy. Carbohydrates actually translate to ‘sugar’ in Latin. Carbs provide about 4kCal of energy in every gram or 17kJ/g

Apart from fiber, other types of carbs are usually energy sources that increase the levels of sugar in the bloodstream by various degrees depending on their Glycemic Index (GI)

Insoluble fiber has no impact on your blood sugar levels and it can actually lower the amount of stored fat in the body. On the other hand, soluble fiber has an impact on the sugar levels in the bloodstream and can lower them. This is why fiber is regarded as a carb which is particularly healthy for diabetics.

Fiber is also not a source of calories since the body does not utilize it in production of energy. Fiber is indigestible so it passes through the digestive system and out of the body without any energy provision.

What is Insoluble fiber?

Insoluble fiber is fiber that does not dissolve in water as its name implies. It includes plant cellulose and hemicellulose. The human body cannot digest this type of fiber although the bacteria present in the gut do actually digest it.

As the bacteria in the gut digest insoluble fiber, they usually produce gasses such as hydrogen and methane and this is why you may experience flatulence.

On top of assisting in the movement of food through the gut, insoluble fiber is important as it assists in adding bulk to the diet and thus promotes satiety. Insoluble fiber can also help in preventing constipation and reduce the levels of cholesterol. Adults should aim at an intake of 25 g of fiber every day.

What is soluble fiber?

As its name implies, soluble fiber is fiber that dissolves in water and it includes plant pectins and gums. It might seem contradictory as it seems that soluble fiber should be helpful to the bowels when it dissolves and becomes liquid form.

However, soluble fiber promotes solid elimination by decreasing the process through which foods are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. Soluble fiber is also helpful for the bacteria in the gut and can aid in feeling fuller for longer.

Soluble fibers usually form a gel-like substance when they combine with water in the large intestine and that stimulates peristalsis and forms bulkier stool which makes passing of stool more comfortable.

What are the health benefits of fiber?

Assists in reducing cholesterol

Fiber can assist in reducing the body’s cholesterol absorption. Fiber increases the feeling of being fuller for longer which is a natural way to boost satiety without an increased intake of calories. 

Studies have also shown dietary fiber to be instrumental in improving cholesterol as the soluble fibers prevent the Low density lipoprotein from oxidizing in the blood which can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart attack or stroke. 

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Helps in promoting a healthy weight

Foods that are rich in fiber such as fruits and veggies are usually low in calories. Fiber also slows down digestion and promotes satiety by making you feel fuller for longer.

Helps in blood sugar control

It takes long for the body to break down high fiber foods and this assists in having more consistent levels of sugar in the bloodstream. This is particularly helpful in people who have diabetes.

Helps add bulk in the digestive tract

Fiber is very important for healthy digestion and more so to people that have a sluggish gut. Dietary fiber assists in adding bulk to the digestive tract because the body doesn’t digest it.

Conclusion

In this brief article we have answered the query,” is fiber a carbohydrate?” We have explained why fiber is considered a carb. We have also discussed the 2 types of fiber which are soluble and insoluble fiber. We have briefly looked at some health benefits of fiber.

Citations

https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/role-of-fiber.html

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