Why Fiber is Important For Your Health and Weight Loss

It’s a commonly known fact that fiber is an essential part of any weight loss program. If you are confused about the role of fiber in your diet and what exactly it does for your body, then read on to know more about it.

Fiber is found naturally in the plants that we eat. It is found in the parts of plants that pass undigested through your digestive system. Fiber is found in nearly all plants, but there is very little of it in meat. That means that you should eat more plant foods if you want more fiber in your diet.

There are two main types of fiber – soluble and insoluble. As the names suggest, soluble fiber is soluble in water while insoluble fiber is not. Both types are very important for the proper functioning of your body.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water found in your food and forms a sort of gel with it. This gel is much denser than normal food and can slow down the overall digestion process. Thus you feel fuller for longer, which can aid your weight loss efforts.

Soluble fiber also plays a big role in reducing cholesterol levels. It works like this: fiber absorbs bile in your intestine, which prevents the re-absorption of bile. This bile, having been absorbed by the fiber, is excreted through the feces. In order to make up for this loss of bile, the liver starts making more bile salts. It uses cholesterol to make more bile salts. So the body increases the number of LDL (bad cholesterol) receptors, which in turn decrease the amount of bad cholesterol in your bloodstream.

The major sources of soluble fiber are apples, oranges, oatmeal, celery, strawberries, cucumber, carrots and various other raw roots, fruits and veggies. Do your research and start getting more soluble fiber in your diet.

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, and hence passes through your digestive system pretty much intact. Due to its extra weight and bulk, insoluble fiber can have a laxative effect, prevent indigestion and reduce constipation. It can speed up the passage of food and waste through your gut.

You can usually find insoluble fiber in whole grains and vegetables such as whole wheat, wheat bran, seeds, nuts, barley, zucchini, barley, etc. – all the good stuff that everyone knows they should be eating in order to be healthy.

How much Dietary Fiber do you need?

Most Americans consume about 15 grams of fiber per day. However, the ideal amount that you should be consuming, according to the 2005 Directory Guidelines for Americans, is around 25 grams for women under 50 and around 30-38 grams for men under 50. This discrepancy is most probably caused by the popularity of meat in the daily American diet, and the relative unpopularity of plant foods.

So get more plant foods in your diet. However, if you generally consume low amounts of fiber, then increase it in your diet in small steps. Going overboard on fiber consumption in a short period of time can cause gas and cramps. Taking it slow will allow your intestinal tract to adjust to the increased fiber intake. Your body can adapt slowly to a healthier, more fiber-rich diet.

If you have been used to eating refined and processed foods, then adding more fiber in your diet can seem like a great challenge. Well, since you should be increasing fiber intake slowly anyway, the trick is to make small changes gradually so that you don’t get overwhelmed.

Use these tips to slowly add more fiber into your diet:

  • Eat lots of fruits: Seriously, just eat more fruits. This is a really easy change to make, since fruits can be sweet and tasty and are not really a hassle to add into your diet. Keep more fruits in your home, and the next time you feel like popping a bit of chocolate or having a glass of fruit juice, eat a whole fruit instead.
  • Drink Smoothies: While juicing discards the pulp from the fruit, blending smoothies preserves all the fiber-rich pulp. Plus, smoothies are much easier to make. So get a blender and drink more smoothies.
  • Read the labels: Try to find fiber-rich foods. Look for the word "whole" and check the fiber content in the nutrition facts list.
  • Get more veggies: Just eat more of the vegetables - it's health advice that has been repeated numerous times since your childhood. Veggies contain a lot of fiber, and you should definitely be getting more of them in your diet.

Fiber supplements are also an option, but their effectiveness hasn’t really been verified scientifically. So it’s generally a better idea to go for natural, fiber-rich plant foods instead.

Hopefully, this article leaves you in no doubt that fiber is of supreme importance in your diet. So start getting more of it in your diet today!

Stephen Ralph
Stephen Ralph
Stephen is the Founder of Health Haxor, an active duty USAF service member, online entrepreneur and fitness buff. In between a busy schedule Stephen is an active contributor to Health Haxor and regularly posts articles related to men's health, fitness and nutrition.
Stephen Ralph
- 8 years ago
Stephen Ralph