We’ve all heard it repeated over and over that you “need to eat more fiber”. But do you even know why fiber is so important? Is it just about digestion and elimination of wastes, or are there more reasons to include a lot of fiber in your diet? Read on to find out the REAL reasons you need more fiber in your diet:
Fiber and Digestion
The #1 reason you need more fiber in your life is to improve your digestive health. Fiber plays very important roles in your body’s elimination of wastes. First of all, it helps to loosen your stools and make it easier for your body to get rid of the fecal waste matter produced during the digestion process. Without enough fiber in your diet, you’d end up constipated, making it very difficult to eliminate wastes. Insoluble fiber also aids in the waste elimination process, helping to get rid of any waste matter clinging to your intestinal walls. This will not only lead to better overall waste elimination, but may actually reduce your risk of colon cancer.
Fiber and Gut Health
Fiber isn’t just useful for digestion—it’s also needed to feed the bacteria in your gut. Fiber can’t be absorbed or broken down by your body, so it passes through your stomach and small intestines to the gut bacteria living in your large intestines. There, the fiber is consumed by the bacteria, serving as their food, the thing that helps them to multiply. Healthy gut bacteria play a role in better immune function, brain health, organ function, and so many other internal systems. By feeding the gut bacteria more of the nutrients they need, you provide them with the fuel needed to grow, spread, and control bad bacteria and pathogens.
Fiber and Weight Loss
Fiber is one of those handy tools to use in your war on body fat! First of all, fiber binds with water in the intestines. This causes the fiber to swell up, making it far larger and more filling than it is on its own. You can enjoy feelings of fullness for longer thanks to all that soluble fiber. Not only will you feel fuller for longer, but you’ll also experience slower absorption of nutrients. This will keep the food in your intestines for longer, meaning a longer period of time before the hunger pangs return. Fiber will help to reduce your food intake, so you’ll have less risk of overconsuming calories—making weight loss a whole lot easier.
Fiber and Heart Health
Fiber can have visible, if minor, effects on your cholesterol levels. Essentially, fiber binds with the fatty particles in your gut, preventing them from being absorbed. Just a few more grams of fiber per day can reduce both your triglycerides and your LDL cholesterol levels. Though the effect isn’t huge, it’s enough to know that fiber works. If you want a healthier heart, eat more fiber!
Fiber and Blood Sugar
This is another of the super important reasons you need more fiber in your diet. Fiber is basically the antithesis of high-glycemic (sugar-rich) foods. Fiber stops your body from absorbing sugar, or at the very least slows down the sugar absorption rate. The fiber in fruits and veggies cancels out a lot of the sugar, making them much lower on the glycemic index than foods that have the same amount of sugar but no fiber. Fiber can stop spikes in your blood sugar levels, which will help to reduce insulin resistance (which can lead to diabetes). The more high-fiber foods you eat, the better!