Americans have a big issue with food. Obesity is rampant in our nation, which is why many try to consume healthy alternatives. Most people think of fiber as one of those “healthy” ingredients their food should have. However, few know about the health benefits dietary fiber has.
For this reason, throughout this article, we’ll talk about fiber benefits. Moreover, we’ll take a look at how you can incorporate a higher amount of fiber into your diet. So join us and keep reading to learn everything about fiber!
What Is Dietary Fiber?
Before discussing dietary fiber benefits and why you should have a high-fiber diet, we must talk about dietary fiber. According to the American Institutes of Medicine, there are two types of fiber: dietary fiber and functional fiber.
The institute defines dietary fiber as the zero-calorie, non-digestible part of a carbohydrate that adds bulk to food. This type of fiber is the one you can find in high-fiber foods. Further down, they split into soluble fiber foods and insoluble fiber foods.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and produces a gel; think of chia seeds in a glass of water. This fiber slows digestion down, making the consumer feel full. Insoluble fiber, in contrast, speeds up bowel movements. Most plants (which is where fiber comes from) have both types, but usually more of one than the other.
Functional fiber, on the other hand, is made of isolated non-digestible carbohydrates. This kind of fiber is produced synthetically or obtained from natural foods like fruits and vegetables. It only exists in an isolated form. Most people consume this fiber through manufactured products that incorporate it into their ingredients. Some common examples are protein bars, noodles, or cereals.
Health Benefits Of Dietary Fiber
There are several health benefits of having a soluble dietary fiber diet. Unfortunately, though, most people don’t consume enough. The Institutes of Medicine recommends a daily fiber intake of 25g for women and 38g for men. Nonetheless, the average grown-up American only consumes 15 grams of fiber per day. So, to encourage you to ask your doctor about fiber diets, here are some of the health benefits:
Better Gut Health
For people over 40, constipation is a common ailment in the US. Having a high-fiber diet contributes to regulating your feces and making them softer. As a result, it’ll be easier to evacuate daily.
Reduces Blood Cholesterol
Just consuming 5 to 10g of fiber more per day can reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, otherwise known as “bad” cholesterol. This claim comes from a study from the Mayo clinic.
Reduces Breast Cancer Risks
According to a study from the Annals of Oncology, fiber might reduce the chance of developing breast cancer. For every 10 grams of fiber you add to your diet; you’ll decrease your chances of breast cancer by 5%.
Improves Heart Health
Heart disease risk is reduced by 9% for every 7 grams of fiber consumed daily. That is closely related to the harmful cholesterol levels reduction, as it prevents clots from forming.
Build Strong Bones
Some types of fiber facilitate the absorption of calcium in some foods. It will help maintain bone density and prevent illnesses such as osteoporosis.
Helps Control Blood Sugar Level
Fiber slows down sugar absorption in the intestines. This steadies the blood sugar level and lessens the ups and downs of insulin secretion. As you might already know, a low blood sugar level is essential to prevent diabetes.
Hypertension Dangers Go Down
As lousy cholesterol levels go down, the risk of hypertension does so too.
May Help You Lose Weight
As fiber hinders fat absorption, a high fiber diet contributes to keeping a healthy weight. Researchers found this in a study where leaner participants consumed 1 gram of fiber more per day than fatter participants. Moreover, mice put on a high fiber diet resisted fat gain much better than others.
Make Your Skin Glow
Suffering from acne? Fiber can help! Fruits and veggies with a high fiber content contain antioxidants that eliminate toxins through the digestive system. It eliminates the toxins that cause acne through your intestines rather than through your skin.
You Will Sleep Like a Dream
Most people who wake up in the middle of the night suffer from this because of ill-regulated sugar levels. A high fiber diet helps regulate sugar and, as a result, you’ll sleep more efficiently and comfortably.
Fiber supplements and fiber-rich foods promote regularity. Moreover, they reduce symptoms of constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
Help You Live Longer
Although most people trying to increase their fiber intake are looking to be fitter, immortality is an unexpected benefit. Well, maybe immortality is an overstretch; however, fiber does help you live longer. At least according to a study published by the National Institutes of Health. That is because fiber reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes and prevents some cancers from forming.
The Bottom Line
Most people think of fiber as a bowel-movement regulator or an easy way of losing weight before summer. Nonetheless, as we’ve seen, a high-fiber diet has more benefits than you probably thought of. From extending your life expectancy to providing good sleep, fiber seems to be miraculous. So, next time, you might want to choose your veggies or cereal more carefully. And remember, some grams of fiber a day keeps the doctor away.