Among people who aren’t very familiar with nutrition, fiber has the reputation of being “the powder that keeps old people regular.” Fiber is so much more than that, however. It’s a regular dietary need for everyone, and it has a wide range of different health benefits.
Fiber In Food
It’s also not really meant to just be a supplement, though supplementing if you’re not getting enough is better than none at all. But it’s really meant to come from a healthy diet.
Dietary fiber is actually the indigestible portion of the foods you eat (specifically, the carbohydrates that can’t be digested). So if fiber doesn’t provide nutrients, why is it so important?
It’s key to the digestive process in that it’s needed to ferment the food that you eat and adds bulk to waste to make it easier to pass.
The Two Types of Fiber
Fiber is divided into two basic types: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It’s needed to create gas in the colon, and it’s also a prebiotic in that it’s used as food by the microorganisms living in your GI tract.
Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water. Some types are also used as food by some microorganisms, but the chief purpose of it is to bulk up waste through water absorption, which is what makes stool easier to pass.
Plants provide both types of fiber, albeit in varying amounts. Most other foods that contain fiber are rich in either one type or the other. For example, whole grains tend to be rich in insoluble fiber, while legumes are more rich in soluble fiber.
The two richest overall sources of fiber are easy to remember: greens and beans! Dark green vegetables provide good all-around fiber content, while legumes are the richest single source of soluble fiber by far and usually even pack a little insoluble fiber too.
Not a fan of chawing through kale and black beans? That’s OK. There’s plenty of other options, those are just the richest sources. Prunes and plums are both a complete source of both types of fiber — insoluble in the fairly tough skins and soluble in the tasty pulp inside. Almonds also contain some of both types as do rye, oats and barley.
- Good veggies for soluble fiber are peas, broccoli, carrots, onions and artichokes.
- Fruits that are particularly good are bananas, avocados, pears, figs and most types of berries. Apples are also good, though they must be eaten with the skin on, as that’s where all the fiber is.
- Root tubers like sweet potatoes are also great.
- Chia and flax seeds are also good, as well as nuts in general, though none are as rich as almonds.
- Whole grains in general — wheat, brown rice, maize, quinoa and millet.
- Good veggie choices are green beans, celery, zucchini and cauliflower.
- The best fruit choices are grapes and tomatoes, but as with apples, the skin is where it’s all at. Sorry, drinking wine doesn’t help!
- Potato skins, though be careful here, as these also love to suck up toxins from pesticides.
General Health Benefits of Fiber
Aside from aiding in digestion and helping make potty time a more pleasant experience, studies have found fiber is also key in aiding several biological processes
The best-studied effect it has is on cholesterol levels. High fiber intake appears to reduce total cholesterol, but especially LDL-C, otherwise known as the “bad” cholesterol that forms arterial plaque. The studies found that the drop in HDL, the “good” cholesterol, was comparatively very small. It has also consistently lowered glucose levels when tested in diabetic patients. [1,2]
A regimen of insoluble fiber in particular has also been seen in some studies to reduce blood pressure significantly in overweight and obese individuals.
Vegetables have life-prolonging benefits beyond the fiber
And as far as vegetables go, there’s a whole lot more to them than just the fiber. Earlier on, we wrote about how eating your fruits and vegetables keeps you alive longer.
So How About Weight Loss?
Now, the part you’ve all been waiting for!
The bad news is, fiber consumption doesn’t appear to do anything at all in terms of promoting the burning of stored fat and overall caloric expenditure.
The good news? It’s a great appetite suppressant, maybe the best one in nature. Eating foods high in fiber creates that “full” sensation much more quickly.
And How About Supplementation?
As we’ve said before, the best results have come from incorporating natural fiber sources into your diet from healthy food sources.
But in the real world, people are busy and sometimes have to grab what’s around them, and convenience meals are usually very poor in fiber. A lot of the stuff on that insoluble list is also not a pleasant eating experience unless it’s drenched in something much less healthy.
Fiber supplements are readily available and not very expensive. They usually come in a powdered form to be mixed with water, sometimes even pre-flavored. Psyllium fiber is most commonly used in these supplements. There’s nothing wrong with it, but too much of it can cause the usual minor digestive issues — gas, cramping and bloating — so it’s not wise to take it indiscriminately just to “make sure you’re covered.” Overdoses of certain fiber types can also block absorption of some nutrients.
You should be keeping track of your macros anyway, so check your diet to make sure you’re getting at least 30g per day if you’re male and 25g per day if you’re female. If you tend to fall short of those numbers, then it’s time to think about keeping a powder on hand.
Summary: More fiber and more fat burning with Pyroxamine
If you’ve been chronically fiber-deprived, ease back into consumption to avoid spending too much time in the bathroom.
And as always, check out Pyroxamine for fat-burning support to go hand-in-hand with appetite suppression. It’s a focus-driven fat burner that will get you in the zone and keep your mind off of junk eating.
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