What is fiber and why it is important
Fibers are important nutrients which are found in whole plant foods. There is plenty of evidence that they can be beneficial for your health. But let’s take a deeper look in the topic.
Fiber, what is that?
Dietary fiber is non-digestible carbohydrate. It falls into two categories.
One is soluble fiber – it can be dissolved in water and the “good” gut bacteria can metabolize it.
The other is insoluble fiber which cannot dissolve in water.
Remember, there are many various types of fiber. Some are pretty much useless while others have lots of health benefits. Also, there are some insoluble fibers which the good gut bacteria can digest. Keep in mind, most foods have both soluble fibers and insoluble ones.
It’s recommended that men eat about 38 g of fiber per day, while for women the recommended amount is 25 g of fiber per day.
Fiber for weight loss
There are certain types of fiber which reduce your appetite, therefore helping you lose weight.
Some studies also show that an increase of dietary fiber promotes weight loss by reducing the calorie intake automatically.
Fibers soak up water in your intestines and cause the nutrients absorption to slow down. They also increase your feeling of satiety.
But this depends on what type of fibers are you consuming. Some don’t have any effect of your weight while others do lead to significant effects.
Fiber is important for the “good” gut bacteria.
There are 10 bacteria for each body cell in our body. They live on your skin, in the nose and the mouth but mostly in the gut, mainly – the large intestine. There are approximately 500 different bacterial species in the intestine and are also familiar under the name gut flora.
But bacteria aren’t a bad think. Actually, they are quite beneficial for you. While you are provide them a safe environment, shelter and food and they take care of some things you cannot do on your own. Some kinds of bacteria are vital for different health aspects like
blood sugar control, brain function, immune function and weight.
And those bacteria require energy in order to survive and to function. But most fats, carbs and proteins are absorbed into your bloodstream long before they reach the large intestine. But since we don’t have the enzymes needed for fiber digestion, the fibers reach your large
intestine unchanged. And the bacteria there do have the necessary enzymes.
So, fibers function as prebiotics – they promote the health of the “good” bacteria in your intestines. And those good bacteria produce some important nutrients, including various short-chain fatty acids (such as butyrate, acetate and propionate) and those short-chained fatty acids feed the cells in your colon, thus, reducing the gut inflammation and improving your condition in some digestive disorders (such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome).
Also, when those bacteria ferment the fibers, they produce gases which may lead to flatulence and/or stomach discomfort in some people but the side effects typically disappear when your body adjusts to its new diet.
Reduces the spike in blood sugar after a rich in carbs meal
Refined carb sources have high glycemic index while high-fiber foods have a lower one.
Scientists believe that the viscous soluble fibers in a high-carb meal may reduce the spikes in the blood sugar after the meal. And this is very important. Especially if you are on a high-carb dies.
Fibers relieve constipation
Amongst the main benefits of the increased fiber intake is that the fibers relieve constipation.
Fibers absorb water, increase the stool bulk and speed up the stool’s movement through the intestines. But there are some researches which show fibers improve constipation symptoms while other researches say removing fibers lead to improvement if you have constipation.
After all, the effect depends on what type of fiber are you consuming.
In general, if you consume fiber that increases the stool’s water content, this will relieve your constipation. But if you eat fiber which adds to the stool’s dry mass without leading to increase in the water content, then those fibers may have some constipating effects.
Types of fiber as psyllium and sorbitol have laxative effect and relieve the constipation. If that’s your goal, consult your doctor.
Strengthens the immune system
Fibers improve the gut health which is tightly related to the function of your immune system.
So, if you consume a diet rich in fibers, than you may be able to improve the natural defenses of your body.
When it comes to exercise, strengthening of the immune system means you’ll spend more time in the gym instead sick in bed, you’ll fight the exercise-induced stress easier and will be able to recover faster from your training sessions. The produced by your immune syste regulatory T cells are thought to be able to support the repair of tissue and prevent the breakdown of the muscles.