Are you getting enough fiber? If not, it may be one reason you’re struggling to shed extra pounds. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, and each provides its own health benefits. Soluble fiber draws in water and becomes a gel. It feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut. Insoluble fiber adds bulk and acts like “scrubbing bubbles” in the intestine, helping food to pass more quickly.
The health benefits of fiber.
There are direct and indirect health benefits from fiber. Since fiber is a prebiotic, it helps keep your microbiome healthier. The microbiome is the microbes that grow in your body, primarily in the intestines. They digest the food and make the nutrients available, while also controlling many other functions, including hormones that affect your mood. Fiber can also help you control blood pressure, improve insulin resistance and lose weight.
One study compared the American Heart Association Diet with a diet higher in fiber.
The University of Massachusetts Medical School divided 240 overweight volunteers with metabolic syndrome into two groups. Metabolic syndrome includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol. One group followed the diet from the American Heart Association—AHA—and the other was just asked to increase their intake of fiber to 30 grams a day. To give an example of what that amount might be like, consider that a half cup of Fiber One is 14 grams of fiber and a pear with the skin is 6. Both groups lost weight, improved their body’s response to insulin and lowered blood pressure.
Besides those benefits, extra fiber helps your body in other ways.
Extra soluble fiber can improve your digestion by keeping your digestive bacteria and microbes in balance. The insoluble fiber adds bulk to prevent constipation and leave you feeling fuller. Studies show that fiber can help rid the body of carcinogens and reduce the incidence of colon polyps. According to a mega-study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, as the amount of fiber people consumed increased, the risk of colon reduced.
- Ditch the sugary treats and grab an apple or a pear. Always eat the skins, but make sure you wash it thoroughly, especially if it’s not organic. Add a few extras to your salad, like broccoli or more carrots.
- You can increase your fiber with whole grain cereals and bread. Instead of eating a box of the latest sugary pop cereal, opt for a bowl of oatmeal. Avoid the instant oatmeal in packets that have added sugar.
- Try overnight oatmeal from Oat Groats. Oat groats are the hulled kernels of oats that include the bran, cereal germ and endosperm. They’re super nutritious. Just bring it to a boil in water for a couple of minutes then cover until you’re ready to use the next morning. Reheat and add your favorite fruit.
- You’ll help your body when you eat buckwheat groats as a source of fiber. It contains rutin that helps reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure, cholesterol and won’t spike blood sugar.
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