Health and Weight Loss Benefits of Fiber

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. It plays a major role in weight loss. It is at the forefront of the latest diet theories, and for good reason.Vegetable Smile

When a specific food is said to contain fiber that means it contains some combination of the two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble.

When placed in water, soluble fiber dissolves and forms a thick gel. In the stomach this gel makes you feel fuller longer. Oats, barley, pulses, and most fruit and vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber.

The insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and does not expand in the stomach and intestines. Instead, it acts like a scrub brush, helping to push food and waste out of the body more quickly. Insoluble fiber passes through your digestive tract without being broken down or absorbed, meaning that it basically provides zero calories to the body. Good sources of insoluble fiber are whole grains (such as brown rice and quinoa), beans, flaxseeds, nuts and wheat bran.

To decrease hunger and increase weight loss, you will increase the intake of both kinds of fiber from whole foods.

The health and weight loss benefits of fiber being present in your eating plan include:

  • It speeds up the passage of food through your digestive system, thus preventing more calories from being absorbed. Better still, fiber is now thought to block calorie absorption by keeping the intestines from breaking down the caloric parts of the food.
  • The soluble fiber helps with appetite control because it gives you the ‘bulk’, helping you feel fuller longer without extra calories. It will also bind with some of the cholesterol and fat in the food you eat which keeps fat levels under control, as the fiber passes out unabsorbed.
  • The bulking action of fiber slows down the emptying of food from your stomach and makes your blood glucose levels rise and fall more gently. This provides a steady supply of nutrients for your body to use, which translates into feeling fuller longer.
  • When fiber expands in your stomach it stimulates your body to release more of the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK), which tells your brain you are full faster and for a longer time even when you have eaten a relatively small amount of food.
  • Fiber helps to avert colon and rectum cancer because its fermentation contributes to the removal of bowel ammonia – a toxin that results from a high-protein diet, suggested as a potential carcinogen.
  • Fiber also determines how much estrogen is stored and how much excreted – soluble fiber binds estrogen so that it is excreted more efficiently.
  • Fiber contributes to healthy cholesterol levels and prevents from heart disease.
  • It aids digestion and helps promote regularity. Your bowels are eliminating toxins more efficiently thus preventing them from being reabsorbed in your system and causing ill health.
  • Increasing the amount of fiber in the diet is important in prevention of breast cancer.
  • Some forms of fiber can slow down the absorption of sugars and help to maintain your blood-sugar balance.
  • Be aware that consuming excessive amounts of fiber may decrease the absorption of zinc, iron, and calcium.

Adding fiber-rich foods to your diet will give you all of these great benefits. Each of us needs approximately 25 total grams of dietary fiber (consisting of both soluble and insoluble fiber) each day to help the food we eat pass through our systems quickly enough that it does not have a chance to be stored as body fat.