Why is Everyone Always Talking About Fiber?

Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are excellent sources of fiber. But why does that matter?

Fiber helps you to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. 

Fiber takes more chewing, slows the passage of food through the digestive tract so that you feel full, and may stimulate hormones that tell the brain to stop eating. It also binds to fat and sugar molecules as they travel through your digestive tract, which reduces the number of calories you get.

Dieters who were told to get at least 30 grams of fiber a day but had no other instructions, lost a significant amount of weight. They lost almost as much weight as a group put on a much more complicated diet that required limiting calories, fat, sugar, and salt while upping fruit, veggie, and whole-grain consumption.

It helps to prevent the most prevalent chronic diseases in America. 

Fiber is essential for preventing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer (such as colorectal, breast, and stomach cancers). People who ate more than 26 grams of fiber a day reduced their risk of diabetes by 18% compared to those who consumed less than 19 grams daily. For every 7 grams of fiber eaten daily, your risk of heart disease drops by 9%. Fiber sops up excess cholesterol in your system and ferries it out before it can clog your arteries.

The healthy bacteria in your gut L-O-V-E fiber. 

Gut bacteria ingest fiber fermented in your GI tract, which produces short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are perfect for us—they lower systemic inflammation, which has been linked to obesity and nearly every major chronic health problem.

We are going to keep talking about fiber, and you can’t stop us. 

You need about 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories that you consume. So if you’re on a 1500 calorie diet, you need 21 grams, and if you’re on a 2,000 calorie diet, you need 28 grams. What percent of Americans do you think consumes the recommended amount of fiber? 5%.

The average person consumes 17 grams a day, but way more than 1,000 calories a day! Most of it comes from pizza crust, noodle soup, and pasta, which are low in fiber, but because we eat so much of them, it adds up.

Better-for-you foods loaded with fiber – like beans, peas, and lentils- make up only 6% of our diets.

The fiber added to your toaster pastries, and ice cream bars in a science lab doesn’t count for much. 

Isolated fibers, such as those found in cereal bars made from refined flour that are naturally devoid of fiber, have not consistently been proven to help with weight loss, lowering cholesterol, or stabilizing blood glucose. Some do help with GI health, though. Thankfully, the FDA’s proposed guidelines will make manufacturers show the physiological effects of isolated fibers before they can be deemed dietary fiber. I rarely give kudos to the FDA, so let’s take a moment to bask in the warmth of my compliment.

Examples of isolated fibers that you will see on ingredient lists include polydextrose, maltodextrin, and inulin. To add insult to injury, not only will isolated fibers not do much for your health, but they can cause considerable gas and bloating for some people.