What is fiber?
Fiber, a type of carbohydrate only found in plants, is a vital nutrient. Even though it’s important to have enough of it every day, many Americans‘ diets fall short. Richard suggests consuming between 20 and 35 grammes of fibre each day, and even more in rare circumstances. When the digestive tract is overloaded with fibre and not given enough water, symptoms including bloating, cramps, gas, constipation, and diarrhoea can occur.
A certified dietitian and nutritionist, Monique Richard has a Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition with a Psychology minor. She owns Nutrition-In-Sight in Johnson City and provides nutrition communication, counselling, and consulting services and is also a National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The benefits of dietary fibre extend far beyond the digestive system. A meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming enough of it may help reduce cholesterol levels and promote weight reduction and weight maintenance by making people feel full for longer (opens in new tab).
Some soluble fibres were found to be equally effective at lowering both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the “bad” variety that increases your risk of heart disease and stroke). Constipation can be avoided and blood sugar levels can be maintained with a fiber-rich diet.
Insoluble fibre and soluble fibre are the two most common kinds of dietary fibre. According to Richard, “insoluble fibre,” which may be found in the celery string and other plant parts like the peel or pulp, helps bulk up stools, encourages regular bowel movements, and “sweeps” out the colon.
“Like a sponge, soluble fibre soaks up water and swells, making digestion more gradual, binding with cholesterol, and possibly helping to firm the stool. The list includes oats, dry beans, barley, apples, potatoes, and berries. You can find both types of fibre in foods, however in different proportions.
Is fiber good for weight loss?
Although a calorie deficit (using more energy than you take in) is necessary for weight loss, consuming fiber-rich meals may facilitate this process due to their increased satiety and increased chewing time (the feeling of fullness). Therefore, as Richard explains, if you feel full sooner, you are less likely to overeat, and you may even reduce your calorie consumption.
Even without making other major dietary adjustments, a 2015 study(opens in new tab) found that consuming just 30g of fibre per day was associated with ‘significant weight loss.
In addition, studies on the effects of viscous fibre on appetite regulation were reported in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition(opens in new tab). This is a type of soluble fibre that, when digested, can gel and bind cholesterol in the digestive tract, blocking its absorption.
Apricots, beans, asparagus, oats, Brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes are good sources of soluble fibre. Consuming some of these meals regularly may help you feel full after eating less.
How can you get enough fiber from your diet?
Because plant foods contain fibre, following a vegan diet may also aid in weight loss. Since it occurs naturally in these foods, you can obtain more of it by eating the peels and skins. The outer bran layer of nutritious grains like brown rice and oatmeal is rich in fibre, and so are beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds.
In addition to helping you shed pounds, meals high in fibre have many other benefits. Fiber intake is inversely related to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer, according to a number of studies (opens in new tab).
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According to Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson and registered dietitian Caroline Susie (opens in new tab), “those who consume a high fibre diet tend to perceive a reduction in their hunger because it is so full.” Foods that are high in fibre include those that are just harvested, such as fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains like barley, millet, amaranth, ferro, and brown rice.
Raw almonds, ground flaxseed, and chia seeds are all good options for a healthy snack or addition to your morning bowl of cereal. Eat more vegetables every day. Eat more vegetables by serving them as a side dish, snacking on crudité, or smuggling them into heartier dishes like soups, chilis, stews, and casseroles. Raw vegetables make a healthy and delicious snack.
Principal at Mercer, a worldwide health consulting organisation, where she oversees the Nutrition and Weight Management Vertical as part of the Total Health Management Team. She holds a degree in nutrition from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and has served as president of the Oklahoma City District Dietetic Association.
Some other simple approaches to boosting your fibre consumption:
- Grab some plain whole wheat biscuits, shredded whole grain cereal, or steel cut oats and top them with some nuts and berries for a filling meal that’s also good for you.
- Choose foods like granary or wholemeal breads, whole-grain pasta, bulger wheat, and brown rice.
- To eat a healthy lunch, use a whole grain tortilla.
- Make sure the potato skins stay on.
- Try eating more fresh fruit, dried fruit, and canned fruit for dessert.
- Crudités, fresh fruit, oatcakes, unsalted nuts and seeds, and a glass of wine are all great options.
- Whole, unpeeled fruit
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In addition, keep in mind that you want to increase your fibre consumption gradually and with lots of water, as advised by certified dietitian Holly Larson(opens in new tab), owner of Holly Larson and Co.
“Like a new sponge, dietary fibre requires water to plump up and move easily as it makes its way down the digestive tract,” she says. Nausea and/or constipation may result from eating too much fibre without drinking enough water.
Before reaching for the fibre pills, keep in mind that fibre is already included in many healthy foods. Fiber supplements and fiber-enriched foods may not provide the same health benefits, including satiety, as whole foods, according to research. If you aren’t getting enough fibre every day, you may not be getting enough of other nutrients, either.
A high fibre consumption is indicative of a healthy diet in general. Aim for your daily fibre intake with whole, unprocessed foods for the full range of health benefits.
Read: How to follow a plant based diet plan for weight loss