Updated: Aug 31, 2018
Fiber is SO underrated. It is found in the most wholesome foods for a reason. I bet you reading about fiber's natural benefits will encourage you to add a little extra fiber into your life.
First off, what is fiber?
Fiber is a carbohydrate from plants that cannot be digested in the human body. Most carbohydrates are broken down into sugar, but fiber is able to pass through the body undigested.
There are two types: soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber attracts, and dissolves in, water - making stool softer and easier to pass. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and adds bulk to your stool. Basically they're the perfect combo.
Here are a few reasons we should add fiber to our everyday lives:
1. It can aid in weight loss.
HOW? Fiber makes you full faster and stay fuller longer. Fiber adds bulk to your meals, filling your stomach, and as a result, releases hormones that act as satiating agents to signal to your brain that you are full. The reason this is important is because without fiber, or eating refined carbohydrates (chips, donuts, white rice), feeling full is a whole lot harder. I don't know about you - but I can eat 4-5 servings of white pasta and go back for seconds an hour later. Adding fiber to refined carbohydrates (veggies to pasta) or switching to complex carbohydrates (whole grains) allows us to feel satiated while eating adequate amounts of calories. This ultimately can help aid in weight loss. It's a win, win, win!
2. It stabilizes our blood sugar levels.
Our blood sugar can influence our sleep, mood, alertness, performance... the list goes on. Consuming carbohydrates without fiber, leads to a quick breakdown and release of sugar into our bloodstream. Ultimately, this leads to a spike in our blood sugar and then....CRASH!! Cue the drowsiness, fatigue, and mood swings. To prevent this, add FIBER! To name a few ~fiberlicious~ foods: oatmeal, lentils, broccoli, apples, avocado, beans, and chia seeds.
3. It can help lower our cholesterol levels.
Fiber has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels; specifically the bad kind. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream. This fiber latches onto LDL ("lousy cholesterol"), pulls it out and excretes it through our stool. Overtime, following a high fiber diet has shown to lower these levels which can ultimately lower your risk of heart disease.
4. It keeps us regular.
Yep, I'm talking poop. Fiber keeps our intestines active, encourages the formation of stool and promotes regular bowel movements. To keep it simple, the indigestible properties of fiber leads to "ruffage"... or poop. Keeping our tummies happy and healthy. In order for fiber to do its job, we need WATER. Increasing your fiber intake? Increase your water intake too. The recommended amount of fiber for an adult is 30-35 grams per day. And if you were wondering... the average American consumes <15g of fiber per day. Moral of the story, we could all use a little bit more fiber in our lives.