Fiber is one of those nutrients that companies often advertise or praise, but they don’t really say why it’s good for us. At most, they give us vague allusions to it assisting with digestion or weight loss; however, fiber can be an essential nutrient that aids different areas and processes of the body. How? Well, let’s dive right into it!
Promotes Digestive Health & Function
The most famous health benefit of fiber that we know of is that it helps with your digestion. Specifically, it keeps your bowel movements normal. As soluble fiber moves through our system, it absorbs water, increasing the bulk of the fecal matter it’s part of. This makes the matter easier to pass, which can improve the regularity of movements and even help combat constipation. A fiber-heavy diet as treatment for constipation is under contention, however. One study has shown that sufferers of chronic constipation found relief after reducing their intake of fiber. This may have more to do with the type of fiber the participants consumed, though, since many dieticians still maintain fiber is very important to digestive health.
Fiber helps to promote a healthy gut biome for the good bacteria that live there.
Regulating your bowel movements isn’t the only way that fiber is good for your digestion. Fiber also has a similar effect to probiotics, to the extent where they are sometimes considered a prebiotic. Much like probiotics, fiber helps to promote a healthy gut biome for the good bacteria that live there. Essentially, it acts as food for these healthy bacteria. This can have plenty of benefits for you, a big one being it can help improve digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcerative colitis.
There is also a lot of evidence to support the belief that fiber is important for a healthy heart. In fact, one study found that proper fiber intake can significantly reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. One reason for this is fiber’s ability to lower your cholesterol. It achieves this in three ways. First, it slows your digestion, which limits your body from creating more cholesterol. Second, it prevents the reabsorption of some bile salts, forcing the body to use cholesterol to create more. And third, as fiber moves through your system, it picks up and moves cholesterol out of your lower intestine and out of your body.
Fiber may just be an effective diet-centric approach toward cardiovascular disease prevention!
There is also evidence that fiber can influence one’s heart health in other ways. One 2005 review of studies found a consistent link between fiber intake and lowered blood pressure. Another 2019 study by the American College of Cardiology strengthened this claim while also finding links to lowered risks of diabetes. Fiber may just be an effective diet-centric approach toward cardiovascular disease prevention!
Aids in Weight Loss
Surprisingly enough, fiber can also be an ally in your weight loss journey! Researchers have found that consuming fiber can be effective way to reduce one’s appetite. Dietary fiber promotes the creation of satiety-inducing hormones, making you feel fuller after a meal and less hungry after eating fiber. At the same time, fiber suppresses hunger-inducing hormones, so you’re less hungry in general.
As fiber breaks down in your system, short-chain fatty acids are created, which may increase your metabolism.
Fiber can also help you burn fat, specifically belly fat. This is due to the prebiotic qualities of soluble fiber. As fiber breaks down in your system, short-chain fatty acids are created, which may increase your metabolism. While more research is needed to know exactly how this happens, the relationship between these fatty acids and less stomach fat is fairly well-established.
May Prevent Certain Cancers
Finally, fiber may be effective at lowering your risk of certain cancers. The most prominent of these are colorectal cancers, which fiber may have a drastic effect on. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, for every 10 grams of fiber you add to your regular diet, your risk of colorectal cancer may decrease by as much as seven percent. There have also been studies that have further linked dietary fiber with lowered risk of colorectal cancer.
WebMD acknowledges that fiber’s other health benefits, like weight loss, can lower your risk of cancer as well.
Currently, there’s a lack of consensus about how strongly or directly fiber intake can influence your risk of cancer, with more long-term studies needed. WebMD acknowledges that fiber’s other health benefits, like weight loss, can lower your risk of cancer as well. So while there may be some argument over whether the two are genuinely linked or there’s just correlation, it’s worth noting that there’s a possibility.
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Fiber is one of those nutrients that you hear a lot about, but probably don’t think too much about. In fact, did you know that most Americans don’t get enough fiber in their diet? Considering how healthy it can be for you, it may be wise to look into ways you can easily add fiber into your diet and start reaping the benefits of a balanced, fiber-rich diet.