The health authorities give general advice such as, “Eat more fiber”. They advise you to consume more vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and other foods rich in fiber.
You might ask, why?
This is because the health authorities believe that dietary fiber helps reduce cholesterol in the body.
Furthermore, it also helps in preventing various types of diseases and relieves constipation. Truly, the health benefits of dietary fiber are amazing.
However, the actual research about fiber does not back up various claims. Although fiber contains various important benefits, many of the health claims result to be untrue when put to the test.
Fiber is truthfully overestimated. However, it is still a significant addition to the diet. And it is still an important part of healthy living.
Let me tell you why.
But, firstly, we should get to know the necessary facts about these wonder complex carbohydrates.
What is Fiber?
Did you know that fiber is also called roughage? Quite surprising. Fiber is a member of the plant-based food group that has a body that cannot break down. This complex carbohydrate passes through the body undigested.
This is why it keeps the digestive tract healthy and clean—facilitating bowel movement and flushing the harmful carcinogens and cholesterols out of the body.
Dietary Fiber comes in two varieties, soluble and insoluble fiber.
- Soluble fiber – this variety of fiber dissolves in water. Furthermore, it helps in controlling the blood sugar levels in the body. Also, it helps in reducing the level of cholesterol. Some of the foods that are rich in soluble fiber are oatmeal, barley, nuts, beans, and fruits like berries, pears, oranges and some other citrus fruits, and apples.
- Insoluble fiber – this variety of fiber, on the other hand, does not dissolve in water. The bulk fiber is the one that helps in preventing constipation. These are found in foods like wheat cereals, whole grains, and vegetables like celery, carrots, tomatoes, and turnips.
A lot of foods have both varieties of fiber, insoluble and soluble. The food has a higher fiber content if it is more natural and is not processed.
Another way to categorize the compound is ‘non-fermentable or fermentable‘. This only means that whether the friendly bacteria in the stomach can use the fiber or not.
It is very important to bear in mind that there are many types of fiber, just like fats which also have many different types. Some of the types of fiber have significant health benefits, while some of them are just useless.
The health authorities recommend that men should eat at least 38g of fibers a day. Furthermore, women should eat 25g of fiber a day.
Why is Fiber Beneficial?
Did you know that when you eat foods rich in fiber, the good bacteria in the intestine are being fed? This is the main reason why fiber is beneficial for the body. Especially in our health
Did you know that your body isn’t a hundred percent human? You might laugh about his, but this is a fact. Our body is just 10% of a human.
Why? This is because the bacteria which live in the body are more numerous than the body cells. It is in the ratio of 10 to 1.
The bacteria in our body usually live in the mouth, nose, or skin. However, the majority of them live in the gut. Most primarily, these bacteria are found in hidden areas, like the intestine.
There are approximately 500 different species of bacteria that live in the intestine alone. To sum it all up, there are approximately 100 trillion in just the stomach alone. Some people call these bacteria in the gut, gut flora.
This isn’t a bad thing at all. There is a beneficial mutual relationship between us humans and those bacteria in our bodies. The bacteria in our body help take care of some things that our body cannot do on its own. In return, our body provides shelter to the bacteria and for them to have a safe habitat.
Maybe you’re going to ask, what does that information have to do with dietary fiber? Well, I’ll tell you that the bacteria also need to eat like any other organisms in the world we are into. They also need to get the ample energy they need to survive and do their function.
But there is a problem. A significant number of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins get absorbed into the bloodstream even before reaching the large intestine. That’s why there might be no food for the bacteria in the gut unless we intake foods that are rich in fiber. Since our body doesn’t have enzymes to digest all the fibers we consume, it goes through the large intestine. Therefore, the gut flora has something to eat.
This is why fiber is very important for overall health. They feed the “good” bacteria in the intestine, which functions as prebiotics in our body. Furthermore, in this way, it increases the levels of “good” bacteria in our bodies. Which will eventually have a positive effect on our health?
The ‘good’ bacteria produce nutrients inside the body, including short-chain fatty acids like propionate, butyrate, and acetate. These fatty acids are beneficial in feeding the cells in our colon, which reduces inflammation in the stomach. Moreover, it also helps improve some digestive disorders like Chron’s disease, Ulcerative colitis, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
When all the bacteria ferment the consumed fiber, it also produces gas. This is the main reason why diets that are rich in fiber can cause stomach discomfort and flatulence. However, this normally goes away as the body adjusts to it.
Amazing Health Benefits of Fiber
The health benefits of fiber cannot be exaggerated unless you have constantly reached your daily requirement for a month or so. You can’t just imagine how amazing you will feel. Do you need extra reasons to eat more fiber? Here are some of the largest ones:
#1. Keeps the Cholesterol Level Down
Fiber helps in blocking the harmful cholesterol from entering our bloodstream. In this way, the nutrient helps our cholesterol level to go down. Precisely, the soluble fiber is the one that is responsible for this process. Soluble means that it is soaked up into the body, unlike the insoluble, which remains undigested throughout its trip into the body.
High cholesterol level is, in fact, a sign of a much larger problem of heart disease. This will make you think you should keep an eye on your health and get a regular checkup. If your doctor told you to watch your cholesterol level, you might as well consume more fiber-rich foods.
To benefit from this, the best source of fiber is oatmeal. Oatmeal is rich in fiber and is especially good at drenching up cholesterol and beating it out of the body. To get extra soluble fiber in your meal, try to incorporate some fruits into your oatmeal.
#2. Helps in Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Consuming the proper amount of fiber every day contributes to the right maintaining of a healthy weight. If you don’t get enough fiber, it might cause you to store an excessive amount of body waste that might leave you vulnerable to harmful toxins.
Being obese or overweight may lead to a higher risk of various conditions or illnesses. Fiber helps you in avoiding all these diseases by giving you ideal weight. Combining a high fiber intake and a balanced diet with proper exercise will naturally lead to natural weight loss.
The best sources of fiber in this certain benefit are anything rich in fiber. This is to meet all the necessary nutritional requirements needed in having a healthy weight. Vegetables and fruits help provide the right amount of vitamins you need each day. Furthermore, beans and nuts, on the other hand, will also help give you all the important minerals needed by your body.
#3. Steadies the Blood Sugar Levels
The sudden rise in blood sugar may cause you to feel foggy and exhausted. This may be caused by eating an improperly balanced carb-laden meal. However, if you add rich fiber food, you can ease the feeling all day long.
Maintaining a healthy level of blood sugar is very important because it helps you prevent diabetes. However, it also helps you in keeping the body’s weight healthy. Furthermore, it also means that your body will be alert and more focused all day. Having a steady level of blood sugar means protection against foggy-headedness and fatigue.
The best sources of fiber in this certain benefit are beans. Beans are believed to have the best fiber source, which may help make the blood sugar level stable. The body slowly digests the beans, so it will keep you feeling full for hours. Furthermore, it also provides various fibers to make you get closer to the daily requirement. Additionally, beans are also a good source of minerals that our body needs to replenish every day.
#4. Helps you Stay Regular
Making you stay regular maybe is the most common health benefit of consuming dietary fibers. When I say “Keep you stay regular”, it means you will have fewer occurrences of both diarrhea and constipation. Fiber helps in keeping your stools smooth, soft, and supple to avert constipation and bulk them all up to prevent the risk of diarrhea.
Our body needs to stay regular because it helps in facilitating the eradication of harmful toxins. If you have an inactive digestive system, it might cause you to risk re-absorbing the harmful toxins that your body should release. If you consume the proper amount of fiber each day, you’ll be able to keep it humming.
The best sources of fiber in this certain benefit are any foods, especially those rich in fiber. However, you must avoid those products in the store and are labeled as rich in fiber. Yes, it might give you the fiber your body needs, but it isn’t the optimal way I getting the right fiber needs.
#5. Helps in Keeping the Colon Healthy
The cornerstone to the overall well-being has a healthy colon, and it also has some benefits to some other systems in the body. Defiantly, when the colon is blocked and not functioning properly, other systems or areas in the body might also surface.
You will not have a healthy colon if you don’t get enough fiber over the long term. Ultimately, the increasing effect of inadequate fiber may take its toll and may cause you to lose the efficiency of the colon. This may cause various complications like constipation, hemorrhoids, IBS, and others.
The best sources of fiber in this certain benefit are any food that contains soluble and insoluble fiber to keep your digestive tract healthy and clean. Most vegetables and fruits may contain some insoluble and soluble fibers. This will make your colon much healthier than it used to be.
#6. Helps Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Maintaining a healthy heart must be your number 1 priority. And to achieve this, you need to get enough fiber. This is because fiber is rich in some antioxidants that are beneficial for heart health.
The best sources of fiber in this certain benefit are nuts. Research says that nuts are good for the heart. Furthermore, nuts help in reducing the risk of various heart diseases. It does not only contain fiber. It also helps in lowering the triglycerides in the body. Additionally, it is believed to have a direct link in avoiding heart disease.
#7. Helps in Reducing the Risk of Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids, as professionals state, is a sudden condition that is very painful and intense. It can be caused by or degraded by toughened stools. These hardened or toughened stools are caused by the lack of fibers in the body. Furthermore, these might cause strain in going and spending longer on the toilet relieving yourself.
If you have experienced any symptoms of hemorrhoids, you might never want to feel it again. Luckily, you can get rid of this sudden condition naturally. Yes, you can do it. You need to it foods that are rich in fiber. On the other hand, if you haven’t experienced it yet, it’s good that you eat plenty of fiber-rich foods to add an ample amount of fiber to your body which will help in preventing the risk of hemorrhoids.
#8. Makes the Gut Bacteria much Healthier
As stated above, having healthy gut bacteria has an amazing effect on our health. To have healthy gut bacteria, you must eat plenty of fiber-rich foods since, as I’ve stated earlier, these go through the intestines (gut) and feed the bacteria in them.
A certain study found out that eating a fiber-rich diet contributes to higher short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids help in reducing inflammation, which is known to cause some chronic problems and obesity.
#9. Helps in preventing the risk of Certain Cancer
A 10 percent reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer may happen when you consume 10 grams of fiber every day. Furthermore, additional 5 percent reduction in the risk of breast cancer. How? This is because fiber-rich foods contain phytochemicals and antioxidants, which are proven to reduce cancer risk.
So, to prevent the possible risk of cancer, you must eat the proper daily amount of fiber. This will not just make your health in top condition, but also aids you to live much longer and much healthier.
#10. Gives you a Healthier Bones
Some variants of soluble fibers are rich in the bioavailability of minerals like calcium. This is beneficial in having not just a healthy but also a stronger bone density. You can get this benefit in foods like leeks, soybeans, asparagus, oats, and wheat.
All the health mentioned above benefits of fibers is just a few of the many benefits. However, these are all proven, and you’ll never go wrong with it, so trust me and trust your fiber-rich diet to improve your health level.
Tips on Adding Fiber in your Diet
So, we have already known what dietary fiber is, why it is significant, and its health benefits. Now, we are going to know how to incorporate it into our daily diet. Let’s go!
So, depending on your gender or age, health experts recommend you consume approximately 21-38 grams of fiber a day. This is for optimal health. The study suggests that most of us people are not eating even half of that amount.
Hitting the daily target of fiber may seem overpowering at first. However, if you love consuming whole wheat, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you might get the right amount of fiber your body needs to start gaining the necessary health benefits outlined above.
Here are some tips that you can use in adding fiber into your diet plan:
- Start the day with dietary fiber. At breakfast, take whole grain cereal to boost your intake of fiber. You can add an extra 6 grams of fiber into your diet by switching into a cereal meal like Bran Flakes. Oats are an amazing source too, top it with your favorite fruit and you are good to go.
- Replace bread, rice, and pasta with whole grain or brown rice. Whole grain and brown rice are very rich in fiber than rice, bread or your pasta meal. Furthermore, even if you replace those meals with brown rice or whole grains, it will still give you delicious taste. So no worries in the taste of the food.
- Increase Fiber in your baking methods. You can substitute whole grain flour for white flour. Because whole grain flour is much heavier than the white flour, it has more fiber, which you need in improving your health. Always be mindful in checking the labels when you visit your favorite grocery store.
- Add fruit in your breakfast. It is enough that you incorporate cereals and whole grains in your breakfast. However, it will be much greater if you add fruits in it. This is since the whole grain or cereals have ample amount of fiber, and when you add fruits to your breakfast, there’ll be more additional fiber which will be beneficial for the body. And don’t forget the added vitamins and minerals from consuming it, it all adds up to your daily RDA intake.
- Increase salads and soups. You can incorporate nuts, kidney beans, seeds, peas, or black beans into your salads to make it healthier and richer in fiber. Furthermore, you can also include beans into your soups to get the best benefit of dietary fiber.
Now that you have read all the necessary information and amazing health benefits of dietary fiber, I would love to know what you think of it. Knowing all the astonishing health benefits of the compound, why don’t you try it? I’m telling you, you will improve the quality of your and help you to age wonderfully.
Fiber is everywhere; you can buy it in the supermarket, in your local store, in your local market, anywhere. Moreover, it comes in various types, whether the oatmeal, whole-grain product, fruits, or vegetables, will give you the best of fiber has to offer. However, you should also bear in mind that when purchasing, get only the best quality. I advise that if you want to get the best health benefits of fiber, choose the fresh ones, the unprocessed ones because they do have more nutrients in them and will give the best expectations.
Fiber played a crucial role on my part since I’ve gone through some illnesses. However, the good thing is, I discovered the power of fiber in improving my condition. You should try it too!
Did you learn a lot from this article? Just let me know. Leave your comments and suggestions below. Thank you!