Fiber plays an important role in every healthy, real food based diet. Women are recommended to eat 25 grams of fiber per day, while men should eat 38 grams per day.

But how much do you really know about the health benefits of fiber. While health authorities claim it's the way to living healthier, there just aren't enough studies to back up these claims.

But that doesn't mean you should ditch fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes in your daily meals. Here's a quick fact list on everything you need to know about fiber:

What is Fiber

Dietary fiber is indigestible carbohydrate found in foods. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and can be metabolized by the “good” bacteria in the gut; while insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. Some of them have important health benefits, while others are mostly useless.

How it Works

Different species of bacteria can have a dramatic effect on various aspects of health, including weight, blood sugar control, immune function and even brain function. These bacteria need energy in order to survive and function. Most carbs, proteins and fats get absorbed into the bloodstream before they make it to the large intestine, leaving nothing left for the gut flora.

Since humans don’t have the enzymes to digest fiber, it gets to reach the large intestine relatively unchanged. But the intestinal bacteria have the enzymes to digest many of these fibers.  The friendly bacteria then produces nutrients for the body, which in turn reduces inflammation in the gut and improvements in various digestive disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chron’s disease and Ulcerative colitis.

Do note that when the bacteria ferment the fiber, they also produce gases. This is the reason high-fiber diets can cause flatulence and stomach discomfort, but this usually goes away with time as your body adjusts.

Might Aid In Weight Loss & Reduce Cholesterol

Some types of fiber can cause weight loss by increasing feelings of fullness and leading to reduced calorie intake. Foods that contain fiber have a lower glycemic index and cause smaller spikes in blood sugar than foods that are low in fiber. Some types of fiber can also reduce cholesterol levels, although the effect isn’t very large on average.

Fiber and Constipation

One of the main purported benefits of fiber is reduced constipation. However, the results are actually fairly conflicting. The truth is that the result really depends on the individual, as well as the type of fiber.

No Evidence That Fiber Protects Against Colorectal Cancer

There is a common myth that fiber can prevent colorectal cancer, which is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the world. While initial studies showed that fiber was associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer, but higher quality studies haven’t found any real link between the two.