The quality of food and the products that individuals consume have considerable effects on their health and wellbeing. A person is everything that he or she eats. It is an axiom, which thousands of people in the United States and worldwide fail to acknowledge. As the burden of chronic illness continues to increase, healthcare providers, researchers, and clinical specialists deliver a concerted message that balanced and healthy diets could substantially improve individual and public health. Speaking of fiber, it has proved to be effective in reducing the risks of cardiovascular complications, obesity and diabetes while improving gastrointestinal health and the immune function. However, these are the advantages of fiber from whole foods rather than dietary supplements that have become particularly widespread in the developed world. At the same time, individuals who already have at least one chronic condition such as diabetes will have to use more advanced strategies to manage and control their symptoms. The Glycemic Index (GI) can empower a person with diabetes to make informed decisions about his or her diet and minimize the risks of undesirable glycemic responses to food.

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With the growing awareness of diets as a contributing factor to health and wellness, the popularity of fiber supplements is also on the rise. Most people assume that fiber has substantial health benefits, but only when “consumed at recommended levels” (McRorie, 2015, p. 82). The reality is that an average person does not receive enough fiber even with the healthiest diet. Most children and adults in the U.S. consume less than 50 percent of the recommended fiber intake per day (Anderson et al., 2009). The health advantages of fiber are numerous and diverse. It is one of the most powerful nutritional components, which can improve individual health and wellness.

Fiber is a necessary component of healthy diets. It has positive impacts on all organs and systems. It is particularly useful in preventing the development of various chronic conditions. Previous research showed that regular consumption of fiber at recommended levels reduced the risks of cardiovascular disease and stroke (Anderson et al., 2009; Brownawell et al., 2012). It is not a secret that the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains reduces the risks and prevents the development of atherosclerosis, which is responsible for numerous cardiovascular diseases and complications in adults. Fiber-containing products have proven dietary and health utility. For example, by replacing foods such as fried meat or steaks with grains and vegetables, individuals can reduce the amount of damaging cholesterol that enters their blood stream.

Fiber will improve the lipid profile and optimize the concentrations of LDL-cholesterol. It is known to bind bile acids and facilitate their excretion from the organism (Anderson et al., 2009). As a result, the risks of cardiovascular disorders in persons who consume enough fiber are lower than in those who fail to meet the recommended daily intake. For the same reason, these individuals will face lower risks of diabetes and other metabolic disorders. Their cardiovascular system will be strong enough to prevent the development of these chronic conditions.

Fiber consumption is an effective strategy for reducing the risks of obesity, improving gastrointestinal function, and building a stronger immune system (Anderson et al., 2009). It is not difficult to understand why fiber prevents the risks of overweight and obesity. It simply means that individuals consume more fruits, vegetables, and whole foods, while reducing the consumption of added sugars, undesirable carbohydrates, and alcohol. Fiber improves the patterns of microbiotic activity in the gastrointestinal tract and facilitates bowel function (Brownawell et al., 2012). For example, individuals who have enough fiber in their diets face lower risks of irritable bowel syndrome, gastrointestinal inflammation, and bowel function disorders, because the action of fiber resembles that of probiotics (Brownawell et al., 2012). However, it is important to remember that health effects of fiber will vary depending on the type of food products. Natural fiber that comes from whole grains is much more effective than the fiber which comes from registered dietary supplements (McRorie, 2015). It is strongly advisable that individuals enrich their diets with natural sources of fiber such as fruits and vegetables. These products are best suited to promote their health in the long run, even if they already have a chronic condition such as diabetes.

If a person has diabetes, he or she must monitor the quality of every product consumed on a daily basis. The Glycemic Index (GI) benefits individuals with diabetes because it empowers them to make informed dietary decisions. According to Bell et al. (2015), individuals with diabetes who consume low-GI foods also show improved patterns of glycemic control and have lower levels of serum glucose. Simultaneously, the use of the GI can prevent the development of hypoglycemia in individuals with diabetes – after all, they should not try to lower their blood glucose by all possible means. Diabetes is a complex chronic condition, and it can be responsible for both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. A reasonable balance of all dietary components will keep the symptoms of diabetes under control, and the use of the GI will further improve one’s ability to slow down the progression of this debilitative condition.

To conclude, fiber offers numerous health benefits to individuals. It reduces the risks of cardiovascular disease and stroke. It prevents the development of obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders. Fiber facilitates gastrointestinal and immune functions. Coupled with the use of the GI, it can empower individuals with and without chronic illness to control their symptoms, make informed dietary decisions, and promote their health in a long-term perspective.

    References
  • Anderson, J.W., Baird, P., Davis, R.H., Ferreri, S., Knudtson, M., Koraym, A., … Williams,
    C.L. (2009). Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition Reviews, 67(4), 188-205.
  • Bell, K.J., Smart, C.E., Steil, G.M., Brand-Miller, J.C., King, B., & Wolpert, H.A. (2015).
    Glucose control in type I diabetes: Implications for intensive diabetes management in the continuous glucose monitoring era. Diabetes Care, 38(6), 1008-1015.
  • Brownawell, A.M., Caers, W., Gibson, G.R., Kendall, C.W., Lewis, K.D., Ringel, Y., &
    Slavin, J.L. (2012). Prebiotics and the health benefits of fiber: Current regulatory status, future research, and goals. The Journal of Nutrition, 142(5), 962-974.
  • McRorie, J.W. (2015). Evidence-based approach to fiber supplements and clinical
    meaningful health benefits. Nutrition Today, 50(2), 82-89.