Why is Everyone Always Talking About Fiber?

Fiber is a form of carbohydrate that can’t be broken down by digestive enzymes. Since it passes through the body largely undigested, it contributes little or no calories and doesn’t impact blood sugar levels. 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 your body extracts from food.

In one study, those participants who doubled their intake of fiber knocked 90-130 calories off of their daily intake. In another study, dieters who were only told to get at least 30 grams of fiber a day lost nearly as much weight as another group of dieters put on a more complex diet requiring limits on calories, fat, sugar, and salt while increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 

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

Fiber lowers cholesterol because it absorbs fiber as it moves through the intestines, forming a gel-like substance, and trapping bile acid. The bile acids that are captured are eliminated in the stool – this forces the body to use more cholesterol to replace the excreted bile acids. Therefore, less cholesterol is available to travel in the blood as LDL and be deposited in arteries. 

Fiber slows the absorption of nutrients and glucose, thus blunting the rise in blood sugar that usually occurs when we eat. 

Every 10 grams of fiber that you eat is associated with a 10 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer and a five percent reduction in breast cancer. 

A study published in Pediatrics in 2016 showed that women who ate a high-fiber diet during adolescence were less likely to develop breast cancer later in life. Researchers hypothesize that the reduction in risk is linked to decreased insulin and estrogen levels in the blood.

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 very healthy for us—they lower systemic inflammation, which has been linked to obesity and many chronic health problems.

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

The Institute of Medicine recommends that women get 25 grams of fiber a day and that men shoot for no less than 38 grams daily. Experts recommend 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed (this is known as the Adequate Intake or AI); for example, if you’re a female between the ages of 31 and 50 on an 1800-calorie diet, you need about 25 grams of fiber a day. The average American gets about 17 grams a day; a measly 5% of Americans reach the AI for fiber

The average person consumes 17 grams of fiber a day, but eats way more than 1,000 calories a day! Sadly, most of the fiber that Americans consume comes from foods that are low in nutrients, such as pizza crust, noodle soup, and pasta,. These foods are low in fiber, but it adds up if we eat large quantities of them. 

Unfortunately, healthier, fiber-rich foods like beans, peas, and lentils make up only six percent of our diets.

 

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