Excellent Health

Eating more fiber brings major health benefits

Eating more fiber brings major health benefits

We’re aware of the benefits of eating more fiber, yet an astonishing 90 percent of women and 97 percent of men fail to meet their recommended fiber intake, as per the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

While fiber, a type of indigestible carbohydrate naturally present in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, is commonly acknowledged for its role in enhancing digestion, its advantages extend beyond the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

More fiber influences nutrient absorption, hormonal balance, and acts as nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria, resulting in a range of unexpected health benefits. Here are four lesser-known health impacts of increasing fiber intake.

01. Your energy levels can achieve greater stability throughout the day

Insufficient fiber intake may contribute to symptoms like shakiness, fatigue, and lightheadedness after a carb-heavy meal. Carbohydrates break down into sugar, causing blood sugar levels to rise, triggering the release of insulin.

While insulin helps sugar enter cells for energy, rapid drops in blood sugar can lead to discomfort and metabolic issues. Fiber slows glucose absorption, stabilizing blood sugar and promoting lasting energy and fullness.

Opt for fiber-rich foods like beans, legumes, vegetables, berries, apples, quinoa, and barley for sustained satiety and minimized blood sugar fluctuations.

02. Reduction in LDL cholesterol levels may occur

High levels of Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as “bad cholesterol,” elevate the risk of cardiovascular disease. Opting for high-fiber foods is an effective strategy to lower LDL cholesterol due to their cholesterol-lowering properties, particularly soluble fiber.

Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the gut, binding with cholesterol to aid in its excretion rather than absorption. This gel also binds to bile acids, produced from cholesterol, used in food digestion.

Typically, bile acids are reabsorbed in the intestine for recycling, but soluble fiber renders them unabsorbable. Consequently, our bodies produce more bile acids from cholesterol stores, lowering blood cholesterol levels.

Fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains are rich sources of soluble fiber. Incorporating chia seeds into morning oatmeal, adding lentils to salads, or including barley and potatoes in soups are delicious ways to increase soluble fiber intake and support a healthy blood lipid profile.

03. You can potentially reduce your blood pressure

High blood pressure poses a significant risk for heart disease and stroke, and its prevalence is higher than commonly perceived. According to the CDC, nearly half of U.S. adults are estimated to have high blood pressure.

Consuming more fiber-rich foods can aid in lowering cholesterol levels, which in turn may enhance vasodilation. This facilitates better expansion of blood vessels, resulting in decreased blood pressure. Moreover, the intake of more fiber is linked to improved metabolic health, which also correlates with reduced blood pressure.

04. Enhanced bone density may occur

Certain fibers can improve calcium absorption, thereby potentially enhancing bone density and reducing the risk of fractures, osteoporosis, and osteopenia in the long term. Additionally, some fibers have prebiotic properties, supporting a healthy gut microbiome.

Well-nourished gut bacteria produce anti-inflammatory compounds, such as short-chain fatty acids, which may increase the absorption of minerals like calcium and magnesium. Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), found in foods like asparagus, artichokes, garlic, onions, barley, and chicory, are among the prebiotic fibers associated with improved mineral absorption.

How much more fiber should you consume?

According to current guidelines set forth by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), men are advised to aim for a daily fiber intake ranging from 30 to 38 grams, while women should target 21 to 25 grams of fiber daily.

However, it’s essential to recognize that these recommendations were established based on the amount of fiber deemed sufficient to maintain heart health and regular bowel function. Research indicates that consuming more fiber is likely to yield further health advantages and support a healthy gut microbiome.

Eating more fiber brings major health benefits conclusion

More fiber intake can yield significant health benefits. However, it’s crucial to proceed with caution. Rapidly boosting your fiber intake can lead to digestive discomfort. Therefore, it’s advisable to adopt a gradual approach, starting with small increments and gradually increasing more fiber intake over a few weeks.

Additionally, ensuring adequate hydration by drinking plenty of water is essential to facilitate smooth digestion.