Benefits of Eating Fiber

Benefits of Eating Fiber

What is Fiber?

Fiber is a term that describes one type of carbohydrate that our body is unable to digest. However, recent studies show that there are some digestible substances present in the fiber which make the fiber harder to define. There are different types of fiber and each of them offers different types of benefits. Benefits of eating fiber is majorly linked to the weight management and prevention of constipation. However, apart from those there are many more benefits that we can enjoy by consuming this non-digestible carbohydrate.

Types of Fibers

Dietary Fiber:

Naturally present in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. The fiber is commonly known for preventing constipation. Dietary fiber cannot be digested instead the fiber passes through the small intestine and colon and then out of your body. The dietary fiber can be divided into two main types: Soluble and Insoluble.

Soluble Fiber:

This is a type of fiber that dissolves in water and forms a gel like material. As this is water soluble so it can be digested easily. Soluble fibers can be found inside of plants and this includes substances like pectin.

Insoluble Fiber:

Insoluble fiber never dissolves in water and it is digestible. This comes from the outer skins of plants. The fiber makes the stool bulky and works great for those who have constipation.

Why is Fiber Important in the Diet?

Research shows that an adequate amount of fiber intake benefits the digestion process and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. A study shows that the increased amount of dietary fiber consumption may reduce serum cholesterol levels. The consumption of fiber has many benefits however, the average fiber consumption rate is very low in the US. The average recommended intake of fiber Is 14 g/1000 kcal for children and adults but, as per the study only 5% of the U.S. population consumes the recommended fiber. There are many more benefits of eating fiber, let’s discuss:

Benefits of Eating Fiber

Normalizes bowel movements:

The fiber makes the stool soft and increases its weight which makes the bowel movements easy. Fiber makes the stool loose and watery. By doing this it makes the stool pass easily out of the body which helps in preventing constipation.

Reduces Risk of Cancer:

The high fiber consumption lowers the risk of colorectal and breast cancers. A journal published in NCBI mentioned that in a study researchers have found that the fiber present in whole grains is linked to the reduced risk of colorectal cancer. On the other hand, the soluble fiber and fruit fiber are good for breast cancer.

Lowers Cholesterol Level:

Fiber intake is great for controlling cholesterol level. Beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran contain soluble fiber which is great for lowering total blood cholesterol level that benefits in maintaining heart health, blood pressure level and inflammation. Fiber also helps to reduce the body cholesterol level.

Keeps you full & Manage Weight:

Compared to other nutrients fiber takes longer to digest. This gives you a feeling of fullness. Due to the fiber intake you may not feel hunger for a longer period of time which restricts you from overeating. This helps in losing weight and excess body fat. The high fiber weight loss diet also helps you to reduce the calorie intake.

Improves Gut Health:

Eating fiber provides food for healthy bacteria which are present in our gastrointestinal system. The bacteria creates gut microbiome which offers a number of benefits such as lowering systemic inflammation, improves immunity and maintains gastrointestinal health.

Reduces Risk of Diabetes:

One of the main benefits of eating fiber is, this can help you in controlling diabetes level. Fiber can slow down the absorption of the sugar by the body which prevents blood sugar spikes after eating something. A review published in a 2018 report states that people with a high fiber diet had lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A small reduction in blood glucose level was noticed.

Also the Soluble fiber offers therapeutic benefits towards and protective effects towards type 2 diabetes.

Live longer:

Many past studies showed that people who consumed more fiber in their diet had lower chance of dying from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Enough fiber intake can protect you from dying from heart disease and cancer.

Natural Detox:

Fiber naturally scrubs and eliminates toxins from your GI tract. Harmful compounds, such as excess estrogen and unhealthy fats get soaked up by soluble fiber before they get absorbed by the body. On the other hand, insoluble fiber doesn’t let chemicals like BPA, mercury and pesticides stay in our system for longer by making things move along quickly. By doing this insoluble fiber reduces the chances of those chemicals to harm our body.

Recommended DRIs for Fiber:

  • Children – 1 to 3 years: 14 grams (g)
  • Girls – 4 to 8 years: 16.8 g
  • Boys – 4 to 8 years: 19.6 g
  • Girls – 9 to 13 years: 22.4 g
  • Boys – 9 to 13 years. 25.2
  • Girls – 14 to 18 years: 25.2 g
  • Boys – 14 to 18 years: 30.8 g
  • Women – 19 to 50 years: 25 g
  • Women – 51 and older: 21 g
  • Men – 19 to 50 years: 38 g
  • Men – 51 and older: 30 g

Healthy Sources of Fiber

Healthy sources of fiber include both soluble and insoluble fibers. Benefits of eating fiber can never be counted. Foods that increase the fiber intake can help in many ways because if you consume different types of dietary fibers then these will benefit you in many different ways. Foods with soluble fiber improve digestion and lower blood sugar and on the other hand insoluble fiber intake soften the stool, making it easier to pass. Here are some healthy sources of both soluble fiber and insoluble fibers for you:

Good Sources of Soluble Fiber

FoodsQuantitySoluble Fiber Content
Black beans172g (Baked )15g
Lima beans128g5.3g
Brussels sprouts78g2g
Sweet potatoes100g (Boiled)2.5g
Broccoli92g (Cooked)1.5g
Pears1 Medium1.5g
Nectarines1 Medium1.4g
Oats1 Cup, 233g (Cooked)1.9g
Hazelnuts1 Cup, 34g1.1g
Barley½ Cup, 79 g (Cooked)0.8g
OrangeSmall Size fruit1.8g
Apples1 Medium (182g)1g

Good Sources of Insoluble Fiber

FoodsQuantityInsoluble Fiber Content
Wheat bran1/2 Cup1g
Black beans1/2 Cup (Cooked)3.1g
Flaxseeds2 tbsp.2.1g
Split Peas1/2 Cup2.4g
Potato with skin1 Medium2.4g
Soybeans1/2 Cup2.2g
Kale2 Cup (Cooked)5.1g
Blueberries3/4 Cup1.1g
Mango1/2 Cup, Small1.2g
Brown rice1/2 cup (Cooked)0.1g
Oatmeal1 Cup, (Cooked)1.6g

What Happens if You Take Too Much Fiber?

Adding too much fiber to the diet quickly can cause you intestinal gas, cramping and abdominal bloating. This can also cause constipation. The side effects of eating fiber can occur if a person is eating more than 70g fiber in a day. The side effects of eating excessive amount of fiber is mentioned below:

  • Bloating
  • Poor absorption of some key nutrients
  • Too much weight gain or loss
  • Nausea
  • Intestinal blockage in rare cases
  • Gas
  • Feeling too full
  • Stomach cramps
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Mineral deficiencies

Does too Much Fiber Cause Diarrhea:

Too much water in your digestive tract and quick digestion process can cause loose stools, or diarrhea. Consumption of too much insoluble fiber can trigger both of these two things. Too much insoluble fiber in the digestive tract pulls water from outside of your intestine to the inside of your intestine which may cause you to experience diarrhea. That’s why it is better to keep the consumption of fiber to a recommended level.

High fiber foods are great for health but a sudden increase in consumption may cause some difficulties. Fiber provides great solutions to many problems and remedies for many diseases. One of the main benefits of eating fiber is unlike carbohydrates, fiber doesn’t contribute to weight gain. One can have fiber without being worried about gaining fat.

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