Lots of attention is given to carbs, fat, protein and calories, but what about fiber? Fiber is found in plant products such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Fiber is considered indigestible by your body, but it can be fermented by the bacteria in your gut and provide you with lots of health benefits. Here is what fiber can do for you!
1. Promotes bowel regularity- The insoluble fiber found in the skin of fruits, vegetables and whole grains helps to increase the frequency of your bowel movements (Aka:poop). The less time your poop spends time inside your body, the less likely your will be exposed to carcinogens or toxins.
2. Feeds your microflora- Fiber helps fuel the good bacteria in your gut. These bacteria break down the fiber through a process known as fermentation. The by-products of this process, such as short chain fatty acids, help protect the integrity and health of the gut. In addition, fiber promotes more gut friendly bacteria in your colon which can improve your immune function.
3. Curbs your hunger- Soluble fiber can help the stomach to slowly empty into the intestines. This leaves you feeling fuller longer and more satisfied with your meal. Try to include a high fiber food item such as whole wheat bread or brown rice and water to gain the maximum benefits
4. Cancer protective- Evidence suggests that a diet high in fiber may lead to less risk of colon cancer. The exact mechanism is unknown, but it is thought that the increase in bowel regularity reduces the amount of time carcinogens are exposed to your body.
5. Reduces Cholesterol- In simple terms, fiber acts like a sponge in the intestines and absorbs cholesterol. Then you poop it out! This way cholesterol (in bile acids) is not absorbed back into your bloodstream. Isn’t that great? Way to go fiber
6. Reduces glucose and insulin levels- Studies have shown that fiber may help promote better glucose control. Remember how I explained fiber slows the emptying of the stomach contents? Well this also helps your blood sugars because it slows the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream. Thus, your insulin levels do not rise as high.
I hope I have provided you with enough reasons to include fiber at every meal. Aim for 25-38 g of fiber a day to gain the maximum benefits. Great sources of fiber are nuts, whole grain breads and cereals, beans, artichokes, broccoli and berries. Yum!