Fiber is a truly underrated nutrient.
Let me guess, when you think of fiber, your grandma’s Metamucil is the first thing that comes to mind. Sure, fiber is important for less stimulating topics like intestinal transit - preventing constipation and increasing regularity - but fiber plays so many more important roles in the body and your overall health than those that relate to bowel movements.
Adequate fiber intake is associated with reduced cardiovascular disease, diabetes, inflammation, and certain cancers like colorectal, breast and gastric cancer. Additionally, fiber play a major role in improving body composition.
BENEFITS OF FIBER FOR WEIGHT LOSS + BODY COMPOSITION
Studies show that individuals with higher fiber intake have lower body weight and less weight gain over time. This is due to fiber’s ability to decrease appetite, and therefore food intake, and to increase satiety, aka fullness after meals. Additionally, fiber slows the absorption of glucose into the body, which prevents blood sugar spikes, which can cause you to crash and burn shortly after a big meal.
Studies also show that the products of fiber fermentation in the gut can provide additional benefits. Propionate, a short-chain fatty acid produced when bacteria in your gut breaks down fiber, has been shown to decrease liver synthesis of fatty acids and increase satiety by influencing hormones that affect hunger/fullness.
GOOD SOURCES OF DIETARY FIBER
Looking for fiber rich recipes? Try these:
Most men and women don’t get enough fiber. The average intake for most Americans is 17 grams/day, well below the recommended amount of 25 grams/day for women and 38 grams/day for men. By increasing fiber intake, people can decrease their risk of chronic disease as well as increase their likelihood of achieving a healthful body weight.
However, all fiber isn’t created equally. Some research shows that isolated fibers (those isolated from food and used as supplements) do not provide the same appetite decreasing and satiety-boosting effects of fiber from foods sources. Additionally, excessive fiber from supplements has been linked to digestive disturbances.
Your best bet is getting fiber straight from the natural source - food!
There are plenty of delicious places to find it. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains are all excellent sources of dietary fiber - as well as many other beneficial nutrients.
For example, 1/2 cup of black beans provides 9 grams of fiber, about a third of your daily needs. You can easily toss beans into salads, soups, or wraps to up your fiber intake. Adding seeds to meals is another easy way to increase fiber. Two tablespoons of chia seeds provides about 7 grams of fiber. You can reap the benefits by adding seeds to smoothies, oatmeal, or baked goods.
Increasing fiber in your diet can assist you in reaching your health and fitness goals and prevent chronic disease at the same time!
About The Author
Whitney English Tabaie, MS, RDN, CPT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer. Whitney earned her masters degree from the University of Southern California in Nutrition, Healthspan, and Longevity and completed a dietetic internship at Norris Cancer Cancer, Keck Medical Center, LACUSC, and Breathe Healing Life Center.
Through her private practice and nutrition website, Whitney E. RD, she aims to help clients treat and prevent chronic disease with sustainable, balanced dietary advice.
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