What’s the Deal With Dietary Fiber?
Dietary fiber… you’ve probably heard you need more of it. Why? Check out these great ways that dietary fiber can totally change your health and improve your life. All you need is fiber!
It’s time to take fiber seriously
Doctors are always telling their patients to get more dietary fiber, and although you might be tired of hearing it, fiber does have a ton of undeniable benefits, all of which are backed by numerous studies.
Technically, the daily recommendation for fiber is between 25 and 38 grams…
But most people fall far short of this – the Journal of Nutrition reports that over 90 percent of adults and children don’t get enough fiber. Although you might think your doctor is just nagging you, it’s hard to deny just how important fiber is for good health.
1. Improves digestion
According to the Mayo Clinic, fiber is either soluble or insoluble. When it’s insoluble, our body doesn’t digest it into energy. Instead, it works its way through your digestive system to help keep you regular and add bulk to your bowel movements.
In fact, eating more fiber can help ease symptoms in people with digestive problems like Irritable Bowel Syndrome says the IBS Treatment Center.
2. Help manage weight
One study divided 240 people into two groups. One followed the American Heart Association’s (AHA) diet, which encourages eating more fruits and vegetables, fish, lean protein and to stay away from salt, sugar, and fat while the second group was just supposed to eat 30 grams of fiber each day.
At the end of the study, both diets were almost just as effective, and the group who ate fiber lost 4.6 pounds on average, and the only change they made was eating more fiber. Fiber probably helps with weight loss because it takes up space in your stomach and helps you feel fuller.
3. Lowers cholesterol
A meta-analysis of 67 trials published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a connection between high fiber diet and lowering total and LDL or bad cholesterol. Although this analysis found all fibers lowered cholesterol by small amounts, insoluble fiber can be especially beneficial.
The AHA advises a high fiber diet can lower cholesterol by as much as 10 percent.
4. Regulates blood sugar
At least ten studies, including the famous a Harvard study of over 40,000 men and 80,000 women, have demonstrated that fiber is a powerful tool for lowering blood sugar.
According to Oregon State University, there’s strong evidence that diets high in refined carbohydrates and low in fiber increase your risk for diabetes while eating more fiber, especially from whole grains, reduces that risk because of its ability to keep blood sugar levels low.
This can help prevent diabetes in the first place, or be included in an adequate diet in people who already have diabetes.
5. Reduces blood pressure
Considering how good fiber is for the cardiovascular system, it’s no surprise it can also help lower blood pressure. A meta-analysis of 24 studies found that increasing fiber intake by taking supplements lowered blood pressure and may help prevent hypertension in the first place.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan recommended for lowering blood pressure also recommends eating more fiber.
6. Boosts heart health
Countless studies have demonstrated that fiber improves heart health, which is why the AHA recommends eating it.
According to an article published in the BMJ, an analysis of 22 studies focusing on dietary fiber and cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease found that the more fiber people ate, the fewer chances they had of developing either one.
7. May protect against cancer
Although more research needs to be done, the evidence is trickling in to show that fiber might also play a role in cancer prevention.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, the fiber may help prevent mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon, rectum and stomach cancer. Additionally, a 2016 long-term study published in Pediatrics involving 44,000 women found eating 28 grams of fiber each day, on average, could reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by 24 percent.
Fiber is one of the simplest and most efficient ways to improve your overall health, and as you can see, it works on multiple levels.
Although many struggles to get enough fiber, the solution is fairly simple – eat whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
CBS reports that people who eat three or more servings of whole grains a day usually get the amount of fiber they need. This can be as simple as making sandwiches with whole grain bread or choosing brown rice over white. To get more fiber, and its benefits, just be more thoughtful in your food choices.