Fiber does more than keep you regular and increase feelings of fullness. Get the facts on fiber here!
Here’s the first surprising fact about fiber: It’s a carbohydrate. But not just any carbohydrate. Because it’s indigestible, fiber doesn’t affect your body the way other carbs do.
Here’s the second surprising fact: There are two major types of fiber.
Soluble fiber dissolves readily in water and turns into a gel upon digestion. It takes a long time to digest and slows the release of other nutrients into the blood.
Insoluble fiber, doesn’t dissolve in water. It enhances your body’s ability to bulk up stool and keeps food moving through your digestive system.
I– Insulin control
B– Beneficial bacteria
Fiber’s effect on satiety is usually attributed to two main factors: adding bulk to the diet and slowing down digestion. When you eat high-fiber foods, this increased bulk takes up more space in your stomach. This is directly related to fullness because your stomach is a “volume counter” rather than a “calorie counter.”
It’s no wonder you can plow through a whole box of cereal but struggle to finish a second serving of broccoli. The high-fiber nature of the broccoli takes up more space in your stomach, which sends signals to your brain to put down the fork.
Additionally, foods high in soluble fiber slow digestion and absorption by creating a gel once ingested. A slower rate of digestion helps to keep you fuller between meals and allows satiety signals to be sent to your brain, which work to stop you from eating as much.
Another perk of slow digestion is enhanced insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control.A high-fiber meal slows the entry of nutrients, such as glucose, into the blood. A slower release of glucose into the blood allows insulin to distribute it effectively. What’s more, the pancreas doesn’t need to secrete as much insulin.
The beneficial bacteria your gut feed on fiber. Increasing the amount of good gut bacteria has been shown to enhance immune function and reduce inflammation.
A stronger immune system helps you get to the gym, rather than being stuck on the couch, sick, wrapped up in a blanket. You can’t make progress if you’re unable to get to the gym!
Reducing inflammation may reduce your risk of several metabolic abnormalities such as high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and high blood lipids.
Multiple studies demonstrate a positive association between the amount of fiber you eat in your diet and life expectancy. A recent study looked at the dietary fiber intake of nearly half a million European adults and found that those eating more than 28 grams of fiber per day had a 24 percent less risk of death than those taking in less than 16 grams per day.
This doesn’t mean a low-fiber diet will take away 25 percent of your years on earth, but it does suggest that eating a high-fiber diet may potentially add a few years. That means more time for squats!
A diet plentiful in insoluble fiber is effective at increasing fecal bulk and promoting a regularly scheduled trip to the bathroom. There’s even some new research demonstrating that people who eat a diet higher in fiber may expend more calories through their poop than those consuming a low-fiber diet. The results may be miniscule, and more research is needed at this point, but, hey, it’s another incentive to stay regular.
How to Increase Daily Fiber Intake
If you’re not eating enough fiber at the moment, have no fear, as there are many options high fibers food. Start with one meal, and swap in a high-fiber source—say, brown rice for white rice. Then, start increasing your vegetable intake, one meal at a time, until you’re at 4-5 servings per day. Slow and steady is the key; otherwise, you may suffer cramps, excessive bloating, and gas.
Excellent Sources of Fiber
- Soluble Fiber: Oats, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and some fruits and vegetables
- Insoluble Fiber: Whole-grains such as wheat and popcorn, fruits and vegetables (with peels)
When you increase your fiber intake, you should increase your fluid intake, too. Without adequate fluids, fiber can actually increase constipation and impede digestion.