Fiber is a carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. Unlike other carbohydrates that eventually get broken down into sugar, fiber passes through the digestive tract undigested. This indigestible property of fiber is what makes it so unique and why it has amazing health benefits. Guidelines recommend you consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day, unfortunately, the majority of individuals get less than half this amount. Understanding the amazing benefits of fiber is crucial to prompt you to consume more of it, read below!
Hemorrhoids are a very common condition I see in practice in both men and women, and can be very painful and irritating. Did you know that eating enough fiber is part of the protocol to prevent hemorrhoids? Hemorrhoids are inflamed veins in the rectum that can be internal or external and cause a great deal of pain. Prevent hemorrhoids by eating a high fiber diet now.
2. Keeps you full
Unlike other foods that your body is able to break down so that your cells can absorb their nutrients and calories, fiber can’t be broken down at all. Your body will still try very hard to break down fiber, which ultimately slows down the digestion of your food through your digestive tract, making you feel fuller longer preventing constant hunger and snacking.
3. Prevents constipation
Fiber adds bulk to your stool to allow for easier bowel movements through your digestive tract. Eating enough fiber is essential to preventing constipation and is the number one treatment for constipation – along with drinking enough water. If you aren’t eating any fiber or if you are eating very low fiber, there is no bulk to your stool to pull it down which means it will sit longer in your digestive tract.
4. Adds texture to your meals
Fiber adds that crunch that we crave and adds great texture to foods. Compare eating and apple to drinking apple juice. That crunch we get from munching on an apple is the fiber, whereas there is zero crunch with apple juice because it is straight water and sugar without the fiber. This is why eating an actual food is always better than drinking the juice of the food.
5. Calorie Free
Your body can’t absorb the calories from fiber and you may even burn calories from trying to digest it. Pretty amazing right! Fiber is literally the one thing that can eat that will never lead to fat gain.
6. Decreases bad cholesterol
Increasing fiber is the best natural way to decrease cholesterol, and is always my number one recommendation when I see patients who have high bad cholesterol levels. Fiber binds to bad cholesterol in your body and removes it physically from your body when you release a bowel movement.
7. Prevents high blood sugar
As discussed above, fiber slows digestion, meaning if it is taken with a high sugar food it will help to blunt the blood sugar spike that typically comes from that food.
8. Keeps the weight off
Due to all the reasons above (keeping you full, keeping your blood sugar stable, etc) you are less likely to overeat because the fiber slows things down and makes you feel more satisfied. Fiber also causes your body to burn more calories just from trying to digest it, and fiber may bind to calories and remove them from your body before they are absorbed.
9. May prevent cancer
Eating a diet high in fiber is associated with decreased chance of colon cancer. This may be due to how fiber soaks up toxins and removes it from your body with each trip to the restroom.
10. Prevents diverticular disease
Diverticular disease is inflammation and herniation of the muscular walls of the colon, and is very serious and normally presents as very painful stomach pain. The best way to prevent diverticular disease is by eating a high fiber diet.
Increase your fiber to at least 25 grams per day to reap all of the above benefits! The most fiber-rich whole foods include vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds.