5 Reasons to Up Your Fiber Intake

5 Reasons to Up Your Fiber Intake
fruits fiber
Rachel Kreider

Fiber may not be the sexiest part of your diet, but it’s one of the most important. Dietary fiber consists of the non-digestible carbohydrates, mostly from components of plants. The human body does not make the types of enzymes needed to break the bonds in these fibers, so they pass through the body relatively intact.

There are two types of fiber—soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber attracts water as you digest your food, and turns into a type of gel. You can get soluble fiber in oat bran, nuts, seeds, and beans (to name a few). Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains and green leafy vegetables. You need both types of this “roughage” for optimal health.

Whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables are examples of fiber-rich foods.

Haven’t been paying attention to how much fiber you get in your diet? Here are five reasons why you should!

Reason 1: Fiber Nourishes Your Microbiome

Our gastrointestinal tract is home to trillions of beneficial microbes (called the “gut microbiome”) that live in a symbiotic relationship with us. This means that we benefit them and they benefit us. Just like us, these microbes need to eat to live and grow, so they obtain nourishment from the undigested part of the food, (fiber), that is passing through our intestines by fermenting it.  (We should point out that fiber that promotes the growth of the intestinal microbiome are called prebiotic fibers, and that not all fibers are considered prebiotic.)

A healthy gut microbiome can protect you against disease-causing bacteria because the good bacteria competes for space in the intestines, blocking the bad guys from taking hold. It can also help you absorb otherwise non-absorbable nutrients like certain antioxidant polyphenols, and produce vital micronutrients (like vitamin K5).

Scientists are just starting to understand the impact the microbiome can have on our overall health, and the next 10 years will surely reveal more information to support the power of the microbiome.

Reason 2: Fiber Keeps You Feeling Full Longer Between Meals

Because fiber is so difficult for your body to break down, it stays in your gastrointestinal tract longer compared to simple carbohydrates like table sugar. Having food in your system helps you feel full for longer. This is the reason some studies show high-fiber diets help us eat less, which can impact weight management. Fun Fact: Research shows that this effect is compounded when fiber and protein are consumed together.

Reason 3: Fiber Supports Healthy Blood-Sugar Levels

Consuming a meal that’s mostly sugar or simple carbohydrates causes a tidal wave of sugar into your blood stream. High-fiber meals, however, help slow the emptying of the stomach, resulting in a trickle of sugar into the bloodstream. A slower release of sugar into the blood helps maintain a constant energy stream, rather than energy peaks and lulls. So, eat whole grains, legumes, …read more
Source: Deepak Chopra

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