Skip to main content

Dietary Fiber

  • Living reference work entry
  • First Online:
Geriatric Gastroenterology

Abstract

Dietary fiber (DF) was once considered to be exclusively an inactive component of the diet, required merely as unabsorbable “roughage” solely to prevent constipation. Currently, DF has been accepted as a functional food necessary to avoid several colonic as well as metabolic disorders. A step further, the discovery of the enormous role played by the gut microbiota (GM) that is regulated by the soluble fiber component in the diet has changed the role of DF to an essential nutrient such as vitamins or minerals. The beneficial health effects of DF from whole plant foods are many and include: improving gut health; lowering LDL-cholesterol; reducing the risk of obesity; decreasing cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD), and mortality risks; and reducing risks of colorectal and several other cancers, colonic diverticulosis, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Many of the above disorders are also age-related. A high fiber diet is recognized in improving the odds of successful aging. DF can be considered a functional food; an empirical observation made a few decades ago that is supported by robust scientific research. The 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have named DF as a significant shortfall nutrient (under-consumed nutrient) of public health importance. The low fiber diet Western type of diet that is becoming popular in many Afro-Asian nations is hypothesized to decrease the microbial diversity of the GM and lead to microbial dysbiosis, the central theme in the pathogenesis of many colonic and metabolic disorders.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • AACC. The definition of dietary fiber. AACC report. Cereal Foods World. 2001;46:112–26.

    Google Scholar 

  • Arndt E. Whole grain barley for today’s health and wellness needs. CFW Res. 2006;51:20–2.

    Google Scholar 

  • Awika JM, Rose DJ, Simsek S. Complementary effects of cereal and pulse polyphenols and dietary fiber on chronic inflammation and gut health. Food Funct. 2018;9(3):1389–409.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Beck E, Tapsell L, Batterham M, Tosh S, Huang X. Increases in peptide Y-Y levels following oat B-glucan ingestion are dose-dependent in overweight adults. Nutr Res. 2009;29:705–9.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Behall K, Scholfield D, Hallfrisch J. Lipids significantly reduced by diets containing barley in moderately hypercholesterolemic men. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004;23:55–62.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Behall K, Scholfield D, Hallfrisch J. Comparison of hormone and glucose responses of overweight women to barley and oats. J Am Coll Nutr. 2005;24:182–8.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Beresford SA, Johnson KC, Ritenbaugh C, et al. Low-fat dietary pattern and risk of colorectal cancer: the Women’s Health Initiative randomized controlled dietary modification trial. JAMA. 2006;295(6):643–54.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Blackwood AD, Salter J, Dettmar PW, Chaplin MF. Dietary fibre, physiochemical properties and their relationship to health. J R Sco Promot Health. 2000;120(4):242–7.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Burkitt D, Walker A, Painter N. Effect of dietary fibre on stools and the transit-times, and its role in the causation of disease. Lancet. 1972;2(7791):1408–12.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Cani PD. Is colonic propionate delivery a novel solution to improve metabolism and inflammation in overweight or obese subjects? Gut. 2019a;68(8):1352–3.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Cani PD. Targeting gut microbiota with a complex mix of dietary fibers improves metabolic diseases. Kidney Int. 2019b;95(1):14–6.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Chambers ES, Viardot A, Psichas A, et al. Effects of targeted delivery of propionate to the human colon on appetite regulation, body weight maintenance and adiposity in overweight adults. Gut. 2015;64(11):1744–54.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Cicero A, Dormi A, D’Addato S, Gaddi A, Borghi C. Long-term effect of a dietary education program on postmenopausal cardiovascular risk and metabolic syndrome: the Brisighella Heart Study. J Women’s Health. 2010;19(1):133–7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Craig WJ, Mangels AR, American Dietetic Assocation. Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009;109(7):1266–82.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Cummings JH. The effect of dietary fiber on fecal weight and composition. In: Spiller GS, editor. CRC handbook on dietary fiber in nutrition. Boca Raton: CRC Press; 1993. p. 263–349.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dahl W, Stewart M. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietitics: health implications of dietary fiber. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(11):1861–70.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dall’Alba V, Sliva F, Antonio J, et al. Improvement of the metabolic syndrome profile by soluble fibre – guar gum – in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomised clinical trial. Br J Nutr. 2013;110(9):1601–10.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Dandona P, Ajlada A, Chaudhari A, Mohanty P, Garg R. Metabolic syndrome: a comprehensive perspective based on interactions between obesity, diabetes, and inflammation. Circulation. 2005;111(11):1448–54.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • De Almeida CV, de Camargo MR, Russo E, Amedei A. Role of diet and gut microbiota on colorectal cancer immunomodulation. World J Gastroenterol. 2019;25(2):151–62.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • de Vrese M, Schrezenmeir J. Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics. Adv Biochem Eng Biotechnol. 2008;111:1–66.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • de Vries J, Miller P, Verbeke K. Effect of cereal on fiber on bowel function: a systematic review of intervention trials. World J Gastroenterol. 2015;21(29):8952–63.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • De Vries J, Birkett A, Hulshof T, Verbeke K, Gibes K. Effects of cereal, fruit, and vegetable fibers on human fecal weight and transit time: a comprehensive review of intervention trials. Nutrients. 2016;8(3):130.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • DeFelice SL. The nutraceutical revolution, its impact on food industry research and development. Trends Food Sci. Technol. 1995;6(2):59–61.

    Google Scholar 

  • Delzenne N, Olivares M, Neyrinck A, et al. Nutritional interest of dietary fiber and prebiotics in obesity: lessons from MyNewGut consortium. Clin Nutr. 2019.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dikeman C, Fahey G. Viscosity as related to dietary fiber: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2006;46(8):649–53.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • EFSA. Scientific opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to konjac mannan (glucomannan) and reduction of body weight (ID 854, 1556, 3725), reduction of post-prandial glycaemic responses (ID 1559), maintenance of normal blood glucose concentrations (ID 835, 3724), maintenance of normal (fasting) blood concentrations of triglycerides (ID 3217), maintenance of normal blood cholesterol concentrations (ID 3100, 3217), maintenance of normal bowel function (ID 834, 1557, 3901) and decreasing potentially pathogenic gastro-intestinal microorganisms (ID 1558) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No. 1924/2006. EFSA J. 2010;8(10):1798.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Fuchs CS, Giovannucci EL, Colditz GA, et al. Dietary fiber and the risk of colorectal cancer and adenoma in women. N Engl J Med. 1999;340(3):169–76.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Galisteo M, Duarte J, Zarzuelo A. Effects of dietary fibers on disturbances clustered in the metabolic syndrome. J Nutr Biochem. 2008;19(2):71–84.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gibb R, McRorie J, Russell D, Hasselblad V, D’Alessio D. Psyllium fiber improves glycemic control proportional to loss of glycemic control: a meta-analysis of data in euglycemic subjects, patients at risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, and patients being treated for type 2 diabetes mellitus. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102(6):1604–14.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gibson GR, Roberfroid MB. Dietary modulation of the human colonic microbiota: introducing the concept of prebiotics. J Nutr. 1994;125(6):1401–12.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hallfrisch J, Facn, Behall K. Mechanisms of the effects of grains on insulin and glucose responses. J Am Coll Nutr. 2000;19(3 Suppl):320S–5S.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hiel S, Bindels LB, Pachikian BD, et al. Effects of a diet based on inulin-rich vegetables on gut health and nutritional behavior in healthy humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2019;109(6):1683–95.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Higgins PD, Johanson JF. Epidemiology of constipation in North America: a systematic review. Am J Gastroenterol. 2004;99(4):750–9.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hipsley E. Dietary “fibre” and pregnancy toxaemia. Br Med J. 1953;2(4833):420–2.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • InterAct Consortium. Dietary fibre and incidence of type 2 diabetes in eight European countries: the epic-interact study and a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Diabetologia. 2015;58:1394–408.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • International Life Sciences Institute. Safety assessment and potential health benefits of food components based on selected scientific criteria. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1999;39(3):203–6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jenkins DJ, Wolever TM, Leeds AR, et al. Dietary fibres, fibre analogues, and glucose tolerance: importance of viscosity. Br Med J. 1978;1(6124):1392–4.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Jones J. CODEX-aligned dietary fiber definitions help to bridge the “fiber gap”. Nutr J. 2014;13:34.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Karhunen LJ, Juvonen KR, Huotari A, Purhonen AK, Herzig KH. Effect of protein, fat, carbohydrate and fibre on gastrointestinal peptide release in humans. Regul Pept. 2008;149(1–3):70–8.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Keenan J, Goulson M, Shamliyam T, Knutson N, Kolberg L, Curry L. The effects of concentrated barley B-glucan on blood lipids in population of hypercholesterolaemic men and women. Br J Nutr. 2007;97(6):1162–8.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kim SY, Song HJ, Yoon YL, Cho K-H, Roh YK. Biomedical issues of dietary fiber B-glucan. J Korean Med Sci. 2006;21(5):781–9.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Lambeau K, McRorie J. Fiber supplements and clinically proven health benefits: how to recognize and recommend an effective fiber therapy. J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. 2017;29(4):216–23.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Lazaridou A, Biliaderis CG. Molecular aspects of cereal B-glucan functionality: physical properties, technological applications and physiological effects. J Cereal Sci. 2007;46:101–8.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Leclere CJ, Champ M, Boillot J, et al. Role of viscous guar gums in lowering the glycemic response after a solid meal. Am J Clin Nutr. 1994;59(4):914–21.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Li J, Kaneko T, Qui LQ, Wang J, Wang Y. Effects of barley intake on glucose tolerance, lipid metabolism, and bowel function in women. Nutrition. 2003;19(11–12):926–9.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Liu S, Willett WC, Manson JE, Hu FB, Rosner B. Relation between changes in intake of dietary fiber and grain products and changes in weight and development of obesity among middle-aged women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(5):920–7.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Livesey G, Taylor R, Livesey H, et al. Dietary glycemic index and load and the risk of type 2 diabetes: assessment of causal relations. Nutrients. 2019;11(6):1436.

    Article  CAS  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Ma Y, Hu M, Zhou L, et al. Dietary fiber intake and risks of proximal and distal colon cancers: a meta-analysis. Medicine. 2018;97(36):e11678.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • McRorie J. Evidence-based approach to fiber supplements and clinically meaningful health benefits, part 1: what to look for and how to recommend an effective fiber therapy. Nutr Today. 2015;50(2):82–9.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • McRorie J, Fahey G. The CRC handbook on dietary supplements in health promotion. Florence: CRC Press; 2015.

    Google Scholar 

  • McRorie J, McKEown N. Understanding the physics of functional fibers in the gastrointestinal tract: an evidence-based approach to resolving enduring misconceptions about insoluble and soluble fiber. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2017;117(2):251–64.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Monro J, Shaw M. Glycemic impact, glycemic glucose equivalents, glycemic index, and glycemic load: definitions, distinctions, and implications. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87(1):237S–43S.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Muller M, Canfora E, Blaak E. Gastrointestinal transit time, glucose homeostasis and metabolic health: modulation by dietary fibers. Nutrients. 2018;10(2):275.

    Article  PubMed Central  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • O’Keefe SJ. Diet, microorganisms and their metabolites, and colon cancer. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016;13(12):691–706.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Papathanasopolous A, Camilleri M. Dietary fiber supplements: effects in obesity and metabolic syndrome and relationship to gastrointestinal functions. Gastroenterology. 2010;138(1):65–72.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Pedersen H, Gudmundsdottir V, Nielsen H, et al. Human gut microbes impact host serum metabolome and insulin sensitivity. Nature. 2016;535(7612):376–81.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Pins J, Kaur H. A review of the effects of barley B-glucan on cardiovascular and diabetic risk. CFW Res. 2006;51:8–11.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Position of the American Dietetic Association. Vegetarian diets. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009;109(7):1266–82.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Qin J, Li Y, Cai Z, et al. A metagenome-wide association study of gut microbiota in type 2 diabetes. Nature. 2012;490(7418):55–60.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Raninen K, Lappi J, Mykkanen H. Dietary fibers as immunoregulatory compounds in health and disease. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009;1190:70–85.

    Google Scholar 

  • Roberts CL, Keita AV, Duncan SH, et al. Translocation of Crohn’s disease Escherichia coli across M-cells: contrasting effects of soluble plant fibres and emulsifiers. Gut. 2010;59(10):1331–9.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Slavin J. Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients. 2013;5:1417–35.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Soliman G. Dietary fiber, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):pii: E1155.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Strate LL, Morris AM. Epidemiology, pathophysiology, and treatment of diverticulitis. Gastroenterology. 2019;156(5):1282–98.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Thanikachalam N, Khan G. Colorectal cancer and nutrition. Nutrients. 2019;11(1):pii: E164.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Torsdottir I, Alpsten M, Andersson H, Einarsson S. Dietary guar gum effects on postprandial blood glucose, insulin and hydroxyproline in humans. J Nutr. 1989;119(12):1925–31.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Tosh S. Review of human studies investigating the post-prandial blood glucose lowering ability of oat and barley food products. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013;67(4):310–7.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Trumbo P, Schlicker S, Yates A, Poos M. Dietary reference intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein and amino acids. J Am Diet Assoc. 2002;102(11):1621–30.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 2010.

    Google Scholar 

  • US Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs. Dietary Goals for the United States, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office; 1977. p. 4.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vega AB, Perello A, Martos L, et al. Breath methane in functional constipation: response to treatment with Ispaghula husk. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2015;27(7):945–53.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Venn B, Green T. Glycemic index and glycemic load: measurement issues and their effect on diet-disease relationships. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007;61(Suppl 1):S122–31.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Vitaglione P, Lumaga RB, Stanzione A, Scalfi L, Fogliano V. Beta-glucan-enriched bread reduces energy intake and modifies plasma ghrelin and peptide YY concentrations in the short term. Appetite. 2009;53(3):338–44.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Weickert MO, Pfeiffer AF. Metabolic effects of dietary fiber consumption and prevention of diabetes. J Nutr. 2008;138(3):439–43.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wood P. Cereal B-glucan in diet and health. J Cereal Sci. 2007;46:230–8.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Wu W, Qui J, Wang A, Li Z. Impact of whole cereals and processing on type 2 diabetes mellitus: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;26:1–28.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ye EQ, Chacko SA, Chou EL, Kugizaki M, Liu S. Greater whole-grain intake is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and weight gain. J Nutr. 2012;142(7):1304–13.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Zhu L, Liu W, Alkhouri R, et al. Structural changes in the gut microbiome of constipated patients. Physiol Genomics. 2014;46(18):679–86.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ziai S, Larijani B, Akhoondzadeh S, et al. Psyllium decreased serum glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin significantly in diabetic outpatients. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005;102(2):202–7.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to C. S. Pitchumoni .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2020 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this entry

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this entry

Narayanan, S., Pitchumoni, C.S. (2020). Dietary Fiber. In: Pitchumoni, C., Dharmarajan, T. (eds) Geriatric Gastroenterology. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90761-1_27-1

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90761-1_27-1

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-90761-1

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-90761-1

  • eBook Packages: Springer Reference MedicineReference Module Medicine

Publish with us

Policies and ethics