Benefits of a High Fiber Diet
Let’s talk about fiber. You need more of it. We all need more of it. The benefits of a high fiber diet are many:
- You’ll lose more weight. Fiber-rich foods fill you up faster and keep you satisfied longer, usually resulting in a 90-130 calorie reduction in daily intake (which amounts to 9-13 pounds of fat loss per year). Fiber-rich foods also prevent your body from absorbing some of the calories in the foods you eat, binding to fats and sugars and shuttling them through the digestive track.
- You’ll stay lean. Studies show that people who eat more fiber consistently over time tend to be leaner, while those who were obese got an average of almost 1 gram a day less fiber than normal-weight participants, according to a study at the Medical University of South Carolina.
- You’ll poop like a champ! Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it. A bulky stool is easier to pass, decreasing your chance of constipation. If you have loose, watery stools, fiber may help give it heft because it absorbs water and adds bulk to stool.
- You’ll lower your Diabetes 2 risk. Analysis of over 19 studies showed that people who ate the most fiber—more than 26 grams a day—lowered their odds of diabetes by 18%, compared to those who consumed the least (less than 19 grams daily). The researchers believe that it’s fiber’s one-two punch of keeping blood sugar levels steady and keeping you at a healthy weight that may help stave off the development of diabetes.
- You’ll lower your CV risk. A review of 22 studies published in the BMJ found that for every 7 grams of fiber eaten daily, your risk of heart disease drops by 9%, partly due to fiber’s ability to absorb excess cholesterol in your system and ferry it out before it can clog your arteries.
- You’ll have healthier gut bacteria. The good bugs that make up your microbiome feed off fiber—and kick ass. As your gut bacteria gobble up fiber that has fermented in your G.I. tract, they produce short-chain fatty acids that have a host of benefits—including lowering systemic inflammation, which has been linked to obesity and nearly every major chronic health problem. A recent study found that eating a high-fiber Mediterranean diet was associated with higher levels of short-chain fatty acids. But you’ve got to consistently get enough grams—ideally every day, if not most days of the week—to keep getting the benefits. Skimping on fiber shifts bacteria populations in a way that increases inflammation in the body.
- You’ll have a healthy bowel. A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease). Some fiber is fermented in the colon. Researchers are looking at how this may play a role in preventing diseases of the colon.
- You’ll lower your risk of certain cancers. Every 10 grams of fiber you eat is associated with a 10% reduced risk of colorectal cancer and a 5% reduction in breast cancer risk, according to a study published in the Annals of Oncology. In addition to the anti-cancer effects of fiber, the foods that contain it—like veggies and fruits—are also rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that could further reduce your risk.
- You’ll control blood sugar levels. In people with diabetes, fiber — particularly soluble fiber — can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels.
- You’ll have strong bones. Some types of soluble fiber—dubbed “prebiotics” and found in asparagus, leeks, soybeans, wheat and oats—have been shown to increase the bioavailability of minerals like calcium in the foods you eat, which may help maintain bone density.
- It’ll clean you out. Fiber naturally scrubs and promotes the elimination of toxins from your G.I. tract. Soluble fiber adheres to potentially harmful compounds, such as excess estrogen and unhealthy fats, before they can be absorbed by the body. Because insoluble fiber makes things move along more quickly, it limits the amount of time that chemicals like BPA, mercury and pesticides stay in your system. The faster they go through you, the less chance they have to cause harm.
Your daily goal is over 30 grams of fiber, which can be challenging. Here are some high fiber foods to start working into your diet:
- Split Peas (16.3g per cup)
- Lentils (15.6g per cup)
- Black Beans (15g per cup)
- Lima Beans (13.2g per cup)
- Avocados (10.5g per cup)
- Artichokes (10.3g per medium vegetable)
- Asian Pears (9.9g per medium fruit w/skin on)
- Acorn Squash (9g per cup)
- Peas (8.8g per cup)
- Okra (8.2g per cup)
- Chickpeas (8g per cup)
- Raspberries (8g per cup)
- Blackberries (7.6g per cup)
- Brussels Sprouts (7.6g per cup)
- Coconut (7.2g per cup)
- Whole-Wheat Pasta (6.3g per cup)
- Chia Seeds (5.5g per tablespoon)
- Broccoli (5.1g per cup)
- Quinoa (5g per cup)
- Brussels Sprouts (4.1g per cup)
- Oatmeal (4g per cup)
There’s a delicious lentil recipe attached. Go eat some fiber!