Dietary Fiber pp 167-178 | Cite as

Physiological Effects of Fiber

  • C. A. Edwards


Ingestion of a diet rich in dietary fiber may result in slower gastric emptying, delayed absorption in the small intestine, faster colonic transit, and an increased stool output. These effects, however, are dependent on the type of dietary fiber ingested. The plant polysaccharides that make up dietary fiber have a variety of chemical structures and physical properties. The soluble polysaccharides form viscous solutions in the intestinal lumen and delay absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. Many of these soluble polysaccharides are extensively fermented in the proximal colon and have minimal effects on stool output. In contrast, the insoluble polysaccharides act as indigestible solids and have little effect on small bowel physiology. However, they are more resistant to bacterial degradation and have a greater influence on stool output and colonic transit. This chapter discusses the mechanisms by which dietary fiber influences the functions of the gastrointestinal tract.


Gastric Emptying Dietary Fiber Colonic Transit Luminal Content Unstirred Layer 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. A. Edwards
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Sub-Department of Human Gastrointestinal Physiology and NutritionRoyal Hallamshire HospitalShefieldEngland
  2. 2.Wolfson Gastrointestinal UnitWestern General HospitalEdinburghScotland

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