This Important Health Benefit of Fiber May Surprise You
We hear that eating fiber is good for our health. Many reasons are discussed. It helps your digestion go smoothly and prevents constipation in some people. Fiber is said to help with weight loss. It can even help prevent blood sugar spikes when eating fiber with a high carb meal at times.
However, the most important benefit of fiber is something else entirely. This benefit is for everyone, everytime they eat certain fiber-rich foods. In the excerpt below you’ll see why the right fiber on your plate means good things for your health and keeps you looking and feeling younger!
The Main Reason Fiber is Beneficial, is That it Feeds The “Good” Bacteria in The Intestine
Did you know that your body is really just 10% human? That’s because the bacteria that live in the body outnumber the body’s cells 10 to 1. Bacteria live on the skin, in the mouth and nose… but the great majority lives in the gut, primarily the large intestine.
There are about 500 different species of bacteria living in the intestine, total number about 100 trillion. The bacteria in the gut are also known as the gut flora. This is not a bad thing… there is a mutually beneficial relationship between us humans and the bacteria. We provide the bacteria with shelter and a safe habitat, instead they take care of some things that the human body can not do on its own.
There are many different kinds of bacteria… and the type (different species) of bacteria can have a dramatic effect on various aspects of health, including weight, blood sugar control, immune function and even brain function.
But what does that have to do with fiber?
Well… like other organisms, bacteria need to eat. They need to get energy from somewhere in order to survive and function. The problem is that most carbs, proteins and fats get absorbed into the bloodstream before they make it to the large intestine. There is nothing left for the gut flora. This is where fiber steps in… humans don’t have the enzymes to digest fiber and therefore it reaches the large intestine relatively unchanged. However, the intestinal bacteria DO have the enzymes to digest many of these fibers.
This is the most important reason that (some) dietary fibers are important for health. They feed the “good” bacteria in the intestine, functioning as prebiotics. That way, they increase our levels of the “good” bacteria, which can have various possitive effects on health.
The friendly bacteria produce nutrients for the body, including short-chain fatty acids like acetate, propionate and butyrate, of which butyrate appears to be the most important. These short-chain fatty acids can feed the cells in the colon, leading to reduced inflammation in the gut and improvements in various digestive disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chron’s disease and Ulcerative colitis.
When the bacteria ferment the fiber, they also produce gases. This is the reason high-fiber diets can cause flatulence and stomach discomfort, but this usually goes away with time as your body adjusts.
Bottom Line: Consuming adequate amounts of soluble, fermentable fiber is very important for optimal health, because it optimizes the function of the friendly bacteria in the gut.
– via Authority Nutrition
Soluble and Insoluble Fiber – What’s the Difference?
Soluble and Insoluble Fiber do different things in our bodies. They are both good, but depending on your own health and what you need to accomplish, it may be important to know which is which.
Here is a quick and easy way to tell soluble and insoluble fiber apart in your food so you can make good choices with your diet. There is also a list of easy ways to add fiber to your everyday diet plan. Crunch and Enjoy!
How Can You Tell if a Fiber is Soluble or Insoluble?
Maybe you’ve never thought about it, but it’s actually fairly easy to tell the two fibers apart. When you make barley soup or boil potatoes, you can easily see how the liquid thickens up – that’s because barley and potatoes are high in soluble fiber.
On the other hand, when you cook brown rice – a whole grain that’s rich in insoluble fiber – it doesn’t get sticky because the fiber doesn’t dissolve. Instead, it simply absorbs water as it cooks, causing the grains to swell up.
Another easy way to see the difference is to open up a can of beans (rich in soluble fiber) and then open up a can of corn – a grain that contains mostly insoluble fiber. Both the beans and the corn are water-packed, but if you take a close look at the liquids in the can, they look very different from one another. Since the corn fiber is insoluble, the liquid that it’s packed in looks watery, rather than sticky or gluey. But the liquid in the can of beans is much thicker, because the water-soluble fiber in the beans has thickened up the water that the beans are packed in.
Tips for Increasing Fiber Intake
Eat whole fruits with skin more often than fruit juices
Use whole fruit as a dessert
Eat a variety of whole vegetables – cooked and raw – and eat them freely
Use 100% whole grain breads, waffles, cereals, rolls, English muffins and crackers instead of those made with refined white flour
Use corn tortillas rather than flour
Use brown rice, wild rice, millet, barley, and cracked wheat as alternatives to white rice
Add beans to main dish soups, stews, chili or salads
If you have trouble meeting your fiber intake, you can use fiber supplements. But remember that fiber supplements don’t replace the healthy fruits, vegetables and whole grains that you should be consuming.
– via Discover Good Nutrition, Fitness & Beauty
Is fiber a regular part of your daily diet? Can you see ways that you could increase your fiber intake?