Fiber is a miracle food that has more benefits than you can poke a sharp stick at:
- Improves digestion
- Adds bulk to your meals without adding calories
- Absorbs water to improve intestinal health
- Feeds healthy probiotic bacteria in your system
- Helps maintain an optimal pH in your intestines
- Prevents colorectal cancer
- Makes you feel full for longer
- Steadies your blood sugar levels and reduces cholesterol.
As if that’s not enough… it adds years to your life too!
What exactly does Fiber do?
While you may know that it’s good for you, many people don’t actually know why. Fiber is a carbohydrate that comes from unrefined plant matter. Fiber comes in soluble and insoluble varieties. It cannot be digested and so it passes through your system unaltered. It has no caloric content, but does make you feel full and performs a plethora of really vital tasks that improve digestion and health.
Improved digestion: Fiber acts as a natural laxative and helps stools to pass easily through the colon which improves the health of your digestive system and speeds the elimination of waste and toxins. Soluble fiber provides nutrients to probiotics which improve the efficacy of nutrient absorption and combat unhealthy bacteria.
Improved health and weight loss: Fiber slows the rate at which your stomach empties. This means that you feel full for longer after consuming fiber and that your blood sugar remains constant. Fiber helps to bulk out your meals without adding calories which is an essential component of long-term weight loss. A diet high in fiber can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure which reduces the risk of heart disease. Fiber also reduces inflammation which helps with arthritis and other inflammation-related pain.
Lower death rate: Fiber is so brilliant that it actually helps you to live longer! The National Cancer Institute recently released the results of a study of over 400 000 candidates which showed that people who had a high fiber intake lived longer. The study revealed that for every increase of ten grams in fiber intake, the risk of death decreased by 12% for men and by 15% for women.
If that just makes you want to rush out and get your fiber on, then there are so many really easy ways to make sure you get your daily dose. For men, that means 38 grams and for women, it’s a daily requirement of 25 grams. The sources of fiber are endless, but your best bet is whole, unrefined natural foods including nuts, fruit and vegetables, whole grains, flax seed and beans.
One of the greatest things about fiber is the fact that it is so easy to incorporate into your daily diet. Sure, you need to get your seven helpings of fruit and vegetables, but it can also be as simple as opting for brown rice instead of white, or a whole-grain pizza crust. The same goes for tortillas, wraps, bread and cereals. Snacks like cookies and crackers also come in healthier whole-grain varieties. You could be adding years to your life and not even notice the difference!
If you are really dedicated to your processed foods or have other health concerns like high cholesterol, ask your dietician or physician to recommend a fiber supplement.