The Top Three Health Benefits of Fiber You Need to Know

Feb 4, 2023Nutrition

Nutritionists: We should be obsessing over this underappreciated superfood

Psst!!! Contrary to stereotypes, a fiber-rich diet isn’t just for your grandma. We tend to associate topics like gut health with geriatrics, but, in reality, the entire GI tract (mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus) and its health is hugely important to anyone’s body, no matter their age. And fiber ranks at the top of the list of superfoods that keep your GI tract in order. There are great health benefits for using fiber!

What is fiber?

Fiber is a substance found in plants and plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy body. It is a carbohydrate that the body’s enzymes cannot break down, so it passes through the digestive system mostly intact. This makes it an important part of a healthy diet, as it helps regulate digestion and prevent various health problems.

There are two types of fibers, soluble and insoluble fibers. Soluble fibers absorb water and form a gel-like substance in the stomach allowing digestion to slow and keeping you feeling full longer. Soluble fibers are found in foods such as oatmeal, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Insoluble fibers do not absorb water and add bulk to stools. This can help to promote regular bowel movements and prevent constipation. Insoluble fibers are found in foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Fiber: Top Three Health Benefits

Dietitians and GI doctors agree that getting the right amount of fiber is essential to your body’s digestive system and overall health. And while there are dozens of health benefits of fiber, we’re dishing out the top three you need to know. 

Promote Regular Bowel Movements

One of the most important benefits of fiber is its ability to regulate digestion. When we eat foods high in fiber, they move through the digestive tract more slowly, allowing our bodies to absorb more nutrients. This can help to prevent constipation and diarrhea, and it can also help to keep our blood sugar levels stable. Additionally, fiber can help prevent hemorrhoids and diverticulitis, which can cause discomfort and pain in the rectal and colon area.

Help Prevent Overeating

Another important benefit of fiber is its ability to keep us feeling full for longer periods of time. Foods that are high in fiber tend to be bulkier and take up more space in the stomach, which can help to reduce feelings of hunger. This can be especially helpful for people trying to lose weight, as it can help prevent overeating and snacking between meals. Additionally, fiber can help to regulate blood sugar levels, which can help to prevent cravings and keep energy levels stable.

Reduce the Risk of Chronic Diseases

Fiber is proven to help lower the risk of chronic diseases. Studies have shown that eating a diet high in fiber can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer. This is believed to be due to the ability of fiber to lower cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar levels. Additionally, fiber can help to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can help to improve overall health.

How much fiber do I need?

A whopping 95% of Americans fail to get the recommended amount our bodies need to function at their best. This translates to a population-wide deficiency and what nutritionists call the “fiber gap.” 

The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests the following amounts of fiber:

  • Women under 50: 25 to 28 grams per day
  • Women 51 and older: 22 grams per day
  • Men under 50: 31 to 34 grams per day
  • Men 51 and older: 28 grams per day

Where can I find fiber?

To increase your fiber intake, include more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes in your diet. You can also try using whole wheat flour instead of white flour and choosing whole fruits over fruit juice. (Note: most fruit juices are loaded with added sugars. Yikes!)

Another option to getting more fiber in your diet is a supplement like gastro-fiber or whole food fiber, sold at PHIT. In addition to providing adequate fiber, both help support healthy gut bacteria and bowel movements. Ask us to help you decide which product is right for you, as each has its own list of ingredients, benefits, and side effects.

However you choose to incorporate it, fiber plays a crucial role in maintaining the overall health of the human body. It aids in weight management, promotes regular bowel movements, lowers the risk of chronic diseases, and promotes satiety. Be sure to gradually add fiber-rich foods or supplements to allow your body time to adapt. It is also important to note that adequate hydration is required to get the full benefits of fiber in the body. 

*The information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. You should always consult with your doctor before making any dietary changes.

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