What is Fiber?
Okay I may be weird...but fiber is my absolute favorite part about nutrition. If I had to make a fad diet- it would definitely be called “the fiber diet.” Fiber is such a cool little secret about nutrition that no one really talks about. But I’m going to tell you all about it right now!
Just in case you have no idea what fiber is- it’s like the filler for plants. So by plants I mean beans, wheat, oats, fruits, and vegetables. You can extract fiber and just take it as a supplement but there are many different types of fiber, so it’s best to just eat it in whole food form.
Okay now that you know what I’m even talking about, here are 5 reasons you should add more fiber to your diet!
1. Your body doesn’t digest it- so it fills you up without the calories! When people always complain about being hungry when they’re on a diet- I always think “Are you eating any fiber??” I’m not saying that food with fiber has no calories- I’m just saying that food with fiber will make you more full (because it literally fills your stomach) but your body cannot break down all of the parts of that food so you don’t store the calories. For example, when you eat an apple your body can use some of the sugar from the carbohydrates of the apple, but your body just passes the fiber through. As opposed to say a cup of apple juice. There is no fiber but the carbs are still there, so you won’t be full but your body will be storing the carbs.
2. PREBIOTICS. I love that everyone is all about probiotics and helping the microbiome, but what about prebiotics? This is the food for all of that healthy bacteria that you’re adding to your gut. They gottta eat too! Some fiber is fermentable-meaning that the bacteria in your gut (from the probiotics) eat it and get stronger! So many people are worried about eating enough yogurt and kombucha, but eating fiber can help your microbiome out too!
3. Laxative. You can’t talk about fiber without talking about poop! Fiber helps you stay “regular” by bulking up your stool (poop) and even attracting water to it. This helps you pass more bowel movements (poop!) easier. If you’re feeling constipated, then eat a little fiber and it could help you out!
4. Lower Cholesterol. Did you ever wonder why Cheerio’s and oatmeal are so “heart healthy?” Yes they’re low in fat, but they also actually help decrease cholesterol because they have so much fiber! Your body can make cholesterol and you also eat it, but fiber in your gut grabs the cholesterol and helps you flush it down the toilet (poop again!). If you’re worried about your cholesterol definitely decrease your intake, but also make sure to eat more fiber to flush those suckers out.
5. Glucose Response. You may have heard that if you have diabetes, you should eat whole grain versions of bread and cereals, but do you know why?? You guess it again- Fiber!! Whole grain rice, bread, and cereals have more fiber. They also do have a lot of carbs, but the fiber content helps slow down the body’s absorption of carbs, causing a slower rise in blood glucose. If you just eat a piece of white bread there isn’t much fiber at all, so your body is going to quickly break it down and you will have a surge of glucose to the blood. If you’re worried about glucose spikes, eat more fiber!
Do you love fiber now too??
A last note- there are actually many different types of fiber, each with these different roles. In order to get all of the benefits just enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This is why eating a fiber supplement really isn’t good enough, because you need all of the different forms to get the full effect. Food that don’t have fiber are meats, oils, and dairy (just so I’m clear). Go out and get you some fiber!