Dietary fiber or roughage is the indigestible portion of food derived from plants. It has two main components:
- Soluble fiber, which dissolves in water, is readily fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically active byproducts, and can be prebiotic and viscous. It delays gastric emptying which in turn can cause an extended feeling of fullness.
- Insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water, is metabolically inert and provides bulking, or it can be prebiotic and metabolically ferment in the large intestine. Bulking fibers absorb water as they move through the digestive system, easing defecation.
Dietary fibers can act by changing the nature of the contents of the gastrointestinal tract and by changing how other nutrients and chemicals are absorbed.
From Wikipedia - Dietary Fiber.