Most people know that fiber is very important for your health. The most commonly heard benefit from fiber is that it helps keep your bowel movements regular. This is very important, however, fiber has many more effects on your body. It can help you lose weight, fight off colds, control blood sugar, improve cholesterol, and increase satiety after a meal. All of these things will lead to an overall healthier life. In this article, I will list a few positive benefits from a high fiber intake that you might not be aware of.
If you don’t know how much fiber you are getting it could be worth looking into. Check if you are getting adequate amounts. A good number to shoot for is to get a bare minimum of about 10% of your total caloric intake in grams of fiber. For example, if you consume 2000 kcal in a day you should be getting at least 20 g of fiber. Now more is not always better and if you reach very high levels of fiber upwards of 60-70+ grams, this could have adverse effects. This is however very hard to achieve and very few people eat that much high fiber foods to reach such a number.
A higher fiber meal compared to a lower fiber meal helps reduce the blood sugar response significantly. This can be beneficial for people with diabetes that struggle with blood sugar control. It also reduces the amount of cholesterol in the blood stream following a meal which is also a positive effect of adding fiber. Having high levels of glucose and cholesterol in the blood is not a good combination and by eating more fiber this can be reduced.
A meal that is high in fiber compared to a low fiber meal of the same caloric value will not have the same metabolic response. Fiber is difficult for the body to break down. There is less energy absorbed from the higher fiber meal. If all other things are equal besides fiber, a higher fiber meal will help you to control calories without having to count calories. All meals take a little bit of energy to break down and meals that are high in fiber, as well as protein, require an extra amount of calories to utilize which is why these meals can be beneficial when improving your body composition.
So if the body has a tough time breaking down the fiber why would it be beneficial to eat? It is difficult for the body to absorb, however, the bacteria that live in your gut loves to eat fiber. When you eat fiber it passes through you all the way down to your micro biome. This is where the bacteria consume the fiber and from that consumption, many positive effects happen in your body. The growth of the good bacteria increases while the growth of the bad bacteria decreases. We have many different strains of bacteria in the gut, some are associated with lower body fat while some are associated with higher body fat. The good bacteria love it when there is a fiber coming down to them. This helps them grow and weeds out the not so positive bacteria. Improvements in gut bacteria are associated with lower energy intake, better glucose control, lower insulin, higher satiety hormones, as well as better cholesterol. These effects will have a significant impact on your health and well-being.
Fiber is obviously very good for you but how do you make sure that you get an ample amount of fiber?
Here’s what you do. Eat a lot of whole and unprocessed foods. Make sure that each meal contains 1-2 cups of vegetables. Yes, that’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Vegetables should be your number one source and on top of that if you consume some fruit, nuts, and seeds you will get a great amount of fiber through your daily diet.
Foods that contain a lot of fiber are:
Lentils, Chia seeds, figs, brussels sprouts, artichokes, almonds, pears, squash, blackberry, avocado, broccoli, oats, sweet potato, carrot, apple, orange, berries, and beans.
Pretty much any vegetable, fruit, nut, and seed will have a good amount of fiber. These foods should be the staple of your diet along with lean protein sources. If a product is advertised as extra high in fiber be cautious of overzealous marketing. Whole unprocessed foods are naturally high in fiber.
This information applies to generally healthy individuals. High fiber diets can be ill advised for populations with intestinal problems such as Crohn’s, IBS, or similar issues.
B.S. Exercise Science from Lindenwood University
Started CrossFit in 2010.
Favorite thing about what I do:
To help and see people improve their fitness and confidence
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association
CF L1 Coach
CF L2 Coach
USAW Sports Performance Coach & club coach