10 Reasons To Make Fiber Your Best Friend

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What is fiber and why is it so important? It is surprising that not many people truly understand the importance of fiber in the diet. In fact, Americans consume only an average of 15g of fiber a day, well below the recommended intake of around 25g/day for women and 28g/day for men. What are some food sources of fiber and why is fiber so important? Read on to find out.

According to the Institute of Medicine Panel on the Definition of Dietary Fiber, “dietary fiber consists of nondigestible carbohydrates and lignin that are intrinsic and intact in plants. Functional fiber consists of isolated, nondigestible carbohydrates that have beneficial physiological effects in humans. Total fiber is the sum of dietary and functional fiber.” Basically, fiber is all of the parts of plants that our body’s enzymes are incapable of breaking down. However, this physiological fact is why it is so beneficial.

First let’s name some valuable sources of fiber. The best, most valuable sources of fiber are found in fruits and vegetables, primarily because their toll on your glycemic load, or the total effect of glucose intake on your blood sugar levels, is relatively low. Great sources of fiber are raw broccoli, cauliflower, corn, lettuce, kale, green beans, legumes and all types of beans, squash, apples, oranges, prunes, raspberries and the like. Whole grains are also good sources of fiber, eaten in moderation, with consideration to each grains’ glycemic load. To find out the glycemic load of a certain food look here:

glycemic-index Photo courtesy of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2002

Here is a top ten list of why adding fiber to your diet is a win-win situation:

1. Fiber makes you full. Fiber, specifically gel forming fibers such as chia seeds, form gels during digestion and contribute to a feeling of satiety and fullness. The fibers need to be gel forming. Wheat bran doesn’t do it as well. Large doses are required for the satiety effect. Other sources of satiety-inducing fibers are apples, corn bran, and barley.

2. Fiber can delay the absorption of certain nutrients in the small intestine. The binding effects of fiber and delayed nutrient absorption have shown to have a positive effect on glucose tolerance, meaning your blood sugar does not go through the valleys and peaks it normally does without fiber intake, thus lowering the incidence of pre-diabetes and diabetes.

3. Fiber lowers serum cholesterol. Fiber delays gastric emptying, interferes with digestive enzymes, and also interferes with actual cholesterol formation, all thus lowering your serum cholesterol way better than any pharmaceutical can.

4. Fiber gets rid of toxins. The binding effect of fiber essentially wraps up little packages of toxins and harmful substances found in our foods and sends them out to be eliminated in your feces. Eliminated products can be bile acids, diacylglycerols, long-chain fatty acids and ammonia.

5. Fiber may lower the incidences of colon cancers. Because fiber quashes out of control cell division i.e. cancer, fiber lowers the risk of carcinogens attacking vulnerable dividing cells by stopping their proliferation.

6. Fiber lowers constipation. Need I say more?

7. Fiber lowers blood pressure. Because fiber improves serum lipid levels and reduce inflammation, fiber has been shown to lower blood pressure.

8. Fiber reduces the incidences of Type 2 diabetes. Diets that provide 30 to 50g of fiber per day have been shown to lower serum glucose levels and thus lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

9. Fiber is an effective obesity prevention tool. Diets higher in fiber have shown to reduce the mean waist circumference of dieters than those who consume less fiber. Fiber is great for your belt buckle.

10. Fiber lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. Because of the combined effects of lowered blood pressure, lower serum cholesterol levels, and reduced inflammation, their is evidence that fiber also lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.

I could go on and on about fiber, but I won’t. I think there is enough here to compel you to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. Don’t be a part of the American low fiber intake statistics. Increase your intake of fiber and you will be lighter, healthier and happier. Cheers to fiber!

Resource:

STIPANUK, M., & CAUDILL, M. (2006). Biological, physiological, and molecular aspects of human nutrition.    (3RD ed., pp. 194-203). ST. LOUIS: ELSEVIER.

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4 thoughts on “10 Reasons To Make Fiber Your Best Friend

  1. What really sucks is when you have gastroparesis and IBS because the diet for each one is the opposite from the other. With gastroparesis I’m not supposed to have fiber because it’s harder to digest and takes longer and with IBS I’m supposed to have high fiber just like everyone else. So, I just pretty much don’t eat much of anything. With gastroparesis you don’t have any appetite anyway. It’s a nasty disease. But this is very good information for all of you “normal” people out there. Keep up the good work. I’ll keep following. I just like to read interesting “stuff” whether it pertains to me or not.
    Tammy 🙂

      • Only if I juice them because my body can digest liquids much easier than solids. So, in order to get my fresh fruits and veggies in, I have to juice them. I just got my juicer out a few weeks ago, after it sitting in the box for almost 2 years and juiced some carrots and pineapple. It was delicious and I need to get online and get some more juicing recipes so I can get my green veggies and others in. The juicer only came with a very small book of recipes and they were mostly fruity. Didn’t see any with any green veggies. I’d like to try some with like kale and spinach with some fruit. That’s the only way I can get them in. I still follow blogs that talk about things I can’t do, just because it’s interesting and you never know…………I believe in miracles. I’ve survived a few things that would have killed most people. 🙂

      • I love it. Check my blogs about juicing. I have a few recipes on there with kale/spinach, and one with carrots/melon/apple. I hope you try them and I hope they help. I fully endorse juicing and hope that you can get some fiber from that. Since I started juicing I feel amazing. Please keep me posted on your progress!

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