WHY YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT FIBER
We hear it all the time… Eat more fiber to be healthier. But what does that even mean? Is fiber really that good for you? Well, yes, it is good for you. And the sad fact is, many of us don’t get nearly enough of it in a typical American diet. It’s recommended that people consume roughly 50 grams of fiber per every 1,000 calories, yet most Americans fall woefully short. Just to give you a better idea of what you should be eating, high-fiber foods include beans, grains, brussels sprouts, sweet potato, bran, whole-wheat bread, and other fruits and vegetables.
WHAT IS FIBER?
Fiber is essentially what’s left over after your body digests food. When your body undergoes the digestive process, it breaks down the food you consume and delivers the nutrients your body needs. Dietary fiber is largely what’s left once this process is complete. Dietary fiber comes in two forms, soluble and insoluble.
Fiber that is soluble forms a gel-like substance by dissolving in water. This substance helps to slow food down as it passes through the digestive system, so that nutrients are better absorbed. It’s also the type of fiber that may help lower glucose levels and blood cholesterol levels.
Insoluble fiber is the kind people are probably most familiar with. It provides bulk to the digestive system, helping keep the pipes running smoothly and relieving common ailments like constipation.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF FIBER?
There are multiple benefits to high fiber foods, ranging from digestive benefits, to heart health, skin health, and even weight management.
FIBER MAY HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT AND MAINTAIN WEIGHT
Merely by upping your intake of high fiber foods could help you lose weight, even if you do nothing else in terms of diet changes. Because foods that are fiber rich tend to help you feel satisfied and full, faster and longer, you naturally consume less calories.
When your fiber content is high, your body can also prevent absorbing some of those calories, which can lead to a calorie deficit resulting in weight loss over time. Plus, if you stick with it, you can maintain your weight loss by eating more fiber. People who don’t consume enough (soluble) fiber may gain weight and have more body fat than people who do.
IMPROVE YOUR GUT FLORA
Your gut houses a variety of “good” bacteria that helps keep your body healthy and doing its job properly. The great news is that much of this gut bacteria feeds and thrives off of fiber.
As these bugs eat the fiber fermenting in your belly, they make short-chain fatty acids that have been shown to offer a variety of health benefits, such as lowering systemic inflammation which is a big contributor to many chronic health issues.
The only caveat is that you must continually eat a high fiber diet to reap the benefits. Otherwise, it can have the opposite effect and your gut flora will get out of balance and increase systemic inflammation instead.
HIGH FIBER FOODS MAY DECREASE RISK FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES
Fiber (mainly soluble fiber) and the gel-like substance it produces can have such a positive impact on blood glucose levels by keeping them steady, and it also helps you lose and maintain a healthy weight. Thanks to these effects, eating a high fiber diet can significantly lower your risk of developing diabetes.
A HIGH FIBER DIET IS GOOD FOR THE HEART
The gel-like substance produced by soluble fiber has a unique ability to whisk excess cholesterol out of your system before it can do any damage. This process helps to lower your risk of developing heart disease.
INCREASE BOWEL REGULARITY AND NATURALLY DETOX YOUR BODY
High-fiber foods make stools both bulky as well as soft and help them to move through the bowels quickly. This helps to relieve constipation, and also works to naturally detoxify your body as harmful compounds are soaked up and moved out before wreaking havoc.
A HIGH FIBER DIET MAY REDUCE RISK FOR OTHER HEALTH CONCERNS
Fiber-rich foods may also reduce other health risks, like stroke, diverticulitis, kidney stones, gall stones, and even hemorrhoids. Fiber foods can also improve skin health like rashes and acne, by moving yeast and fungus through your body quickly so it isn’t exerted through the skin instead.
YOU MAY LIVE LONGER AND HAVE STRONGER BONES
People who eat foods high in fiber may live longer in general than people who do not. Plus, soluble fiber may help maintain bone density by increasing the bioavailability of important and necessary minerals found in your food.
There’s no doubt that a high fiber-diet can offer a wide range of potential health benefits, especially when you eat high fiber foods consistently and on a daily basis. The key is to find high fiber foods you like and incorporate them into your diet slowly. Allow your body to adjust to the increased fiber intake, and then reap the rewards.