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Let’s be honest. How often do you keep track of how much fiber you eat? If you’re anything like most people, fiber is the last thing on your mind. At first glance, fiber is nothing but a bland plant constituent that simply helps you poop. With that kind of reputation, it’s easy to forget.
But the truth is, fiber is so much more than a humble digestion aid. While fiber has numerous benefits for the gut, it also plays an essential supporting role in heart health, blood sugar support, weight management and more.
That makes fiber an unsung rockstar in the world of nutrition. Countless studies over the years have revealed that fiber can have profound effects on your well-being.
Yet most people simply don’t get enough fiber. Processed foods are severely lacking in fiber, which helps to explain why only 7% of the population is getting the amount of fiber they need every day.
Most recommendations are for a daily fiber intake of 25-35g which should come from a mix of soluble and insoluble sources, since each type has distinct benefits for the body. Here are eight ways fiber can transform your health.
Containing a whopping 100+ trillion cells, the gut microbiome is fundamental to overall health. Getting fiber in your diet is one of the best ways to support a healthy gut microbiome.
While probiotics (good bacteria) are well known for their gut benefits, some types of fiber (such as inulin) are a prebiotic, meaning they function as a food source for the beneficial bacteria. When you feed these healthy microbes, it encourages their growth.
Why does this matter?
Studies have found that healthy gut bacteria can be an important factor in weight control, blood sugar regulation, and even mental health. There’s also emerging evidence that healthy gut bacteria may play a role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. So, getting more fiber can help both your gut microbiome and overall health.
One of the most overlooked benefits of fiber is its ability to help with weight management. Fiber helps with weight loss because it helps you feel full, so it can help to reduce cravings and reduce how much food you eat.
In one study, researchers found that consuming an additional 14 grams of fiber per day caused people to eat 10% fewer calories and lose around 4 extra lbs. within four months.
Fiber can also help prevent weight gain. A research article published in Nutritional Epidemiology found that when women increased their dietary fiber intake, it significantly reduced the risk of future weight gain.
One of the most challenging aspects of sticking to any weight loss plan is overcoming feeling hungry, and adding more fiber may make it easier to pass on bigger portions so you can reach your goals.
Blood sugar level fluctuations throughout the day can have a huge impact on how you feel, such as being tired and irritable. Foods rich in simple carbs can cause a spike in blood sugar, prompting your body to release insulin to reduce blood sugar, an up-and-down cycle that can also stress your kidneys.
It’s important to keep your blood sugar levels as stable as possible. One effective way to stabilize blood sugar levels is to eat more soluble fiber. Soluble fiber (such as from peas, oats, and flax seed) can slow the release of sugar, helping to steady blood sugar levels throughout the day.
Soluble fiber helps to support healthy cholesterol levels, providing a modest reduction in total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol. This is because fiber soaks up cholesterol in your intestines. By acting like a cholesterol sponge, soluble fiber prevents cholesterol from getting absorbed into your blood.
As you may know, if your blood cholesterol gets too high, it may increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is considered to have the most damaging effects. Since fiber can help to reduce LDL cholesterol, eating more fiber is an important step for heart health.
Fiber has another way of improving your cardiovascular health: it can help reduce elevated blood pressure. An analysis published in the Journal of Hypertension found that increasing dietary fiber can provide significant benefits for those with high blood pressure.
“We performed a comprehensive analysis of data from 25 clinical trials and all the data pointed to one strong conclusion — adding fiber to a person’s diet has a healthy effect on their blood pressure,” explains author Seamus Whelton.
Increasing your fiber intake can improve your digestion by boosting motility, or in other words, helping food travel through the digestive tract. With improved digestive motility, fiber helps to increase the frequency of bowel movements and decrease constipation.
But there’s a catch! If you don’t drink enough water and consume a bunch of fiber in a meal it can promote constipation. So, make sure you drink enough water when you have a high-fiber meal. Another way to do this is to have a high-quality fiber powder supplement that you add to water which helps to ensure that you stay hydrated.
One of the most underappreciated benefits of fiber is its ability to help protect the body from dietary toxins. That’s vital because our food supply is riddled with toxins. There are pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals in food; plus chemicals in food packaging, all of which end up in our bodies.
After eating, these toxins can either enter the bloodstream or exit your body when you poop. This is where fiber comes into play. Fiber traps toxins and transports them to where they belong… in the toilet.
Adding more fiber helps to prevent the uptake of toxins. To maximize your detox, take it with natural zeolite to help reduce your body’s burden of toxicants in the gut and body.
One of the most important functions of fiber may be how it can be protective of colon health. Along with avoiding processed meats, and increasing your intake of fruits and veggies, fiber can help maintain colon health.
While its protective role in colon health is not fully understood, the Cleveland Clinic explains that, “fiber helps move food through the digestive system faster, limiting the time potential carcinogens sit in the intestines.”
Since most people only get about half the recommended amount of fiber each day, adding more fiber to your diet should be a priority. The good news is that many fiber-rich foods are an easy add.
Foods rich in soluble fiber include peas, beans, flax seed, oats, barley, mangoes, pears, bananas, and sweet potatoes. Insoluble fiber is found in many foods including broccoli, onions, celery, and most leafy green veggies.
Another option is to add an organic superfood fiber mix to your day to boost your intake. Look for a fiber powder that has both soluble and insoluble fibers for maximum health benefits. It should also have a prebiotic (inulin) and a probiotic to optimize gut health, with plant-based enzymes to assist digestion.
With more fiber in your daily routine, you can expect to improve the health of your gut microbiome, boost digestive detox, support healthy weight management, and much more. In just a few short weeks, you may be amazed at how great you’ll feel simply by getting the right amount of fiber.