You’ve probably heard of the many benefits of having fiber in your diet.
In fact, there’s a large body of evidence that adequate fiber intake can benefit digestion, reduce chronic disease, and help with weight control and weight loss.
So, we decided to write this article on why adding fiber-rich food to your diet might be a good idea.
What Is Fiber?
Fiber is a type of non-digestible carbohydrate. While most carbohydrates break down into sugar molecules, such as glucose, fiber passes through undigested.
Fiber comes in two different varieties. Both varieties of fiber are important to overall health for various reasons.
Soluble fiber is a type of fiber that can dissolve in water and form a gel-like material. This gel-like material slows down gastric emptying, which can help to lower blood glucose levels and cholesterol.
Fiber-rich foods high in soluble fiber include oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, fruits like apples and blueberries, and barley.
Insoluble fiber does NOT dissolve in water and can help move food through your digestive system and increase stool bulk. This is beneficial for anyone struggling with constipation or irregular stools.
Good fiber sources containing insoluble fiber are whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, and potatoes.
Benefits Of A High-Fiber Diet
Fiber has a vast array of benefits when it comes to your overall health. For example, most people think of preventing constipation, but it plays a more significant role than just making things move more easily. It also reduces the risk of developing various conditions, including diabetes, diverticular disease, constipation, and heart disease.
Several studies link a lower risk of heart disease to people who have a high intake of fiber. For example, in a study conducted at Harvard of over 40,000 male health professionals, researchers found that a diet high in fiber-rich foods was linked to a 40 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease. Another Harvard study found similar results on females.
High fiber intake has also been linked to a lowered risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome consists of factors, including high insulin levels, high blood pressure, high levels of triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, and excess weight. These factors increase the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.
Type 2 Diabetes
Diets low in fiber and high in highly processed foods may increase the risk of developing type 2 Diabetes. For example, multiple studies found that these types of highly processed food diets doubled the risk of type 2 diabetes compared to a diet high in fiber and low in high glycemic index foods.
Foods high in fiber, especially foods with soluble fiber, can slow the absorption of sugar and can help to improve and improve overall blood sugar levels.
Focusing on a high fiber diet also often leads to a greater intake of whole foods vs. processed foods, bringing along other benefits such as reduced calorie intake.
A high-fiber diet can also help improve or maintain overall gut health. In addition, fiber can reduce your risk of developing hemorrhoids and diverticular disease (small pouches in your colon).
Other studies have also found that a high fiber diet can lower the risk of colorectal cancer.
Intestinal bacteria can feed on the fiber as it passes through your gut, promoting “good” gut bacteria growth.
These “good” bacteria produce nutrients for the body, including something called short-chain fatty acids.
These short-chain fatty acids can “feed” the cells in your colon, leading to reduced gut inflammation and help to improve inflammatory gut diseases such as IBS, Chrohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
Normalized Bowel Movements
Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints in the United States.
Dietary fiber, especially insoluble fiber, can help increase the weight and size of your stool as well as soften it. Bulky stool is easier to pass, which can help if you currently suffer from constipation. If you have loose or watery stool, fiber can also help by solidifying and absorbing extra water and adding bulk.
It’s recommended that you increase fiber intake slowly over time rather than suddenly. This is because too much fiber before you adapt can cause some abdominal discomfort and flatulence.
How Much Fiber Should You Eat?
According to the Institute of Medicine, which advises on health matters according to the best available evidence, recommends that men get around 38 grams of fiber per day and women around 25 grams per day.
These recommendations aren’t exact numbers and can vary from person to person. Use them as more of a reference point when setting your overall fiber goals!
Tips For Getting More Fiber
Need some ideas for getting in more fiber? Try one of these suggestions:
Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only are they rich in fiber, but they also contain vitamins and minerals.
Lean on high-fiber snacks when you’re in a pinch. There are plenty of on-the-go products that contain a good amount of fiber. One great example is the MCT Collagen Bar from NuSkool Snacks! It’s low sugar, contains collagen protein, and has 7 grams of fiber per bar!
Add in legumes. Beans, peas, and lentils are great sources of fiber! You can easily add them to soups, chili, beef dishes, and salads! You can also make homemade salsas with them to eat with high-fiber chips!