No matter what fitness, diet, weight loss, or health website you visit, you’ll find they all have one thing in common: they all recommend fiber as one of the most important elements of your diet.
Fiber plays a huge role in your overall health! There are many things that fiber does, such as:
It slows down sugar absorption. When you eat a lot of sugar, your body turns it into energy far faster than you can burn it. This means that the excess energy is turned into fat and stored for “later”, thereby increasing the amount of body fat you have in storage. But fiber slows down the rate at which sugar is absorbed, giving your body time to burn the energy before turning it into fat. It also stops the sugar from being absorbed into your bloodstream too quickly, keeping blood glucose levels under control.
It scrubs out your digestive tract. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber is like nature’s steel wool. It cannot be absorbed by your body, so it runs through your intestinal tract fairly quickly. But the fiber particles are large, and they collide with the food clinging to the walls of your intestines. The bombardment of fiber particles sort of sandblasts your intestines, cleaning away all of that excess waste. The insoluble fiber is excellent for cleaning out your digestive tract!
It absorbs toxins, sugar, alcohol, and cholesterol. Soluble fiber is like a sponge, and it soaks up anything that it comes in contact with. If you eat a lot of high-cholesterol foods, the fiber binds with the fatty acids. Once bound, the particles of fat and fiber are too large for your body to absorb, so they are sent to the disposal. The same happens with toxins, sugars, and alcohol in your digestive system. Eating more fiber is the key to preventing harmful substances from being absorbed into your body.
It fills you up. Have you ever compared a bowl of cornflakes to a bowl of bran logs? You feel a whole lot fuller after the bran, and it’s all thanks to the fiber. The soluble fiber in your bran absorbs the liquid in your stomach–milk, saliva, stomach acid, water, etc.–and swells up, similar to the way popcorn expands when it is cooked. When your stomach is full, it takes longer for the food to be broken down and digested. This means that you remain full for much longer after eating fiber-rich foods, making it less likely that you will feel hungry soon after eating. For those trying to lose weight, this means a far lower risk of snacking!
It ensures the production of fresh bile. Bile is the acid that breaks down the food in our stomach. When you don’t get enough soluble fiber, your body essentially circulates the bile it already has produced. This means the toxins and harmful substances in the bile are circulated through the body, slowly becoming more and more concentrated. But when the bile is absorbed by the fiber and eliminated, your body has to produce fresh bile. Think of the difference between a cup of fresh olive oil and a cup of oil that has been used to deep fry foods a half-dozen times. Ew!
As you can see, there are A LOT of reasons to eat more high-fiber foods. We’ve got a list of foods for you to add to your diet:
How much fiber do you need per day? According to the experts, roughly 18 to 30 grams per day is the minimum–more is always better!