5 Reasons to Include More Fiber in Your Diet

By Crystal A. Moore

On a recent shopping trip to my local market, I overheard two people discussing whether they should purchase white or brown rice. I couldn’t help but tune-in to their varying opinions on preparation time, taste, and texture.

After a few moments of my awkward eavesdropping, the two shoppers made their selection and left the aisle. I stood there surprised that there was no mention of what should have been the #1 deciding factor — fiber.

Why You Probably Need More Fiber

Fiber, an often unappreciated class of carbohydrate, is composed of long chains of sugar units. But unlike the carbohydrates found in starchy and sugary foods, bonds connecting the sugar units of fiber cannot be broken down by digestive enzymes in the digestive tract.

Instead, fiber passes virtually intact through your stomach, small intestine, and colon and eventually exits your body. This is why fiber is often referred to as roughage, and a bout of constipation is the “not-so-gentle” reminder that you probably need more.

Fiber’s role in health goes far beyond simply helping to keep bowel movements regular by creating bulky stools …

Fiber also helps with:

  1. Healthy cholesterol
  2. Weight management
  3. Glucose management
  4. GI health
  5. Removal of toxins
To better understand how fiber will help you manage these concerns, let’s take a look at the two types of fiber.

Types of Fiber

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Here are their key characteristics:1

Soluble Fiber:

  • Able to dissolve in water
  • Viscous: forms gels
  • Fermentable: easily digested by bacteria in the colon
  • Commonly found in legumes and fruits
Insoluble Fiber:

  • Does not dissolve in water
  • Does not form gels
  • Less readily fermentable
  • Commonly found in grains and vegetables
Now that you understand the types of fiber, here are some good reasons to include more in your diet.

5 Health Benefits of Soluble and Insoluble Fiber

1. Healthy cholesterol

Cholesterol is produced in the liver and has many beneficial roles in the body, but too much is associated with increased risk for heart disease. Fiber helps to support healthy cholesterol and heart health in several ways.2

One way is through limiting the recycling of bile acids. Bile acids are composed of cholesterol and are used in the digestive tract to break down and absorb fat. The cholesterol in bile acids can be reabsorbed into the body along with fat we have eaten and is recycled back to the liver. Soluble-viscous fiber binds with the cholesterol in bile acids and increases its excretion. Less cholesterol reabsorbed and more excreted means healthier cholesterol levels!

2. Weight management

When fiber reaches the stomach, it swells. So when you consume a high-fiber meal, you feel full faster, eat fewer calories, and stay satisfied longer! Now, I know that there are times when we (yes, myself included) ignore this feeling of fullness, but at least fiber will help you get off to a good start.

3. Glucose management

As mentioned earlier, fiber attracts water and swells in the stomach. Along with making you feel full, this causes delayed gastric emptying, meaning it takes longer for your stomach to empty after eating. This delayed emptying slows your bloodstream’s absorption of the sugars in carbohydrates and prevents dangerous post-meal glucose spikes.

4. GI health

Billions of beneficial microorganisms live in symbiosis in our bodies.3 While some are bad, many are beneficial. Known as probiotics, microorganisms in our gut help to strengthen our immune system, support the health of intestinal walls, and compete with harmful organisms. What’s fascinating is that these microorganisms LOVE fiber. When you eat fiber, you are providing food for your beneficial bacteria to grow and create strong healthy colonies.

5. Removal of toxins

When fiber reaches the colon, it binds to toxins, carcinogens, and excess estrogen for rapid removal through the stool.2 These toxins and excess hormones could otherwise be reabsorbed into the body.

Your Plan of Action

To reap the full benefits of fiber, you must consume a heaping 30–35g/day. It takes a while for the body to adjust to such a high amount, so here are a few tips for getting started.2

  • Gradually increase your fiber intake over the course of a few weeks.
  • Drink lots of fluids to soften the fiber and ease its transit through your digestive tract.
  • Be sure to consume a healthy balance of soluble and insoluble fiber. This will allow you to achieve maximum benefit.
So I challenge you to get started today. Begin with reviewing all food labels for FIBER and use this fiber chart4 to keep track of your daily intake.

By the way, if you’re wondering about which rice the shoppers chose, they selected the brown rice!

Now that you know what you should be looking for … what types of choices will you make?

References

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fiber/NU00033
  2. Whitney E, Rolfe SR. (2005) Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
  3. Immunobiology. 1992 Feb;184(2-3):157-79.
  4. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

Share | |

4 comments:

Stevan said...

Fiber is very much essential for our body and has a lot of benefits. As the fiber containing foods have least amount of calories so it is helpful in reducing weight. It prevents constipation and removes toxins from the body. So we must include fibers in our diet to get maximum benefits.

LifeExtension said...

Stevan - Great points! Thanks for sharing them with us.

Celebrity Slim Bar, Ireland said...

I agree with the benefits of fiber in our food. I am trying meal replacement bars for reducing my weight. Along with these bars I regularly take fiber in the form of fruits to maintain my weight. This is really beneficial.

LifeExtension said...

Celebrity Slim Bar, Ireland - Thanks for reading!

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...