No matter where you live, including Calgary, Canada, eating healthy is just as important as exercise when it comes to getting fit. One of the most underrated nutrients is fiber, particularly for weight loss. Fiber fills you up and keeps you feeling fuller longer, just like protein does. It’s also important for colon health. That’s what most people think of when they think of fiber, which makes it the butt of many jokes. Fiber is high in most fruits and vegetables, so increasing it in your diet just requires adding more fruits and veggies to your meals.
There are two types of fiber and you need both.
Fiber is soluble or insoluble. The soluble fiber dissolves in fluid and becomes a gel. That gel helps your body two ways. It feeds the friendly microbes and helps keep your stool soft, so it can pass more easily. Insoluble fiber isn’t digested by either our bodies or the friendly microbes in the digestive tract. Instead, it adds bulk, slows the digestion of sugar and just like soluble fiber, makes you feel fuller longer.
What foods are best for soluble and insoluble fiber.
Most fruits and vegetables contain either soluble fiber, insoluble fiber or both. Good sources of soluble fiber are beans, whole grains, apples, flax seed, psyllium husk, broccoli, sweet potatoes and asparagus. Insoluble fiber is also in beans greens oat bran, and avocado. It’s in berries, celery, wheat germ and coconut. If you want the benefits, eat the fruit or vegetable whole, instead of just drinking the juice. Juicing these will remove the beneficial fiber.
You’ll lose weight and get more nutrients when you add fiber to your diet.
Fiber fills you up and slows digestion. By slowing the absorption of sugar, it helps regulate your blood sugar levels. It also helps regulate cholesterol levels. It can aid in preventing insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes and weight gain around the middle. Since it feeds the beneficial microbes, it aids in creating a healthier microbiome in your gut. Those beneficial microbes help break down the food you ate, and in the process, make the nutrients bioavailable. The microbes also control bodily functions and boost your immune system. They even play a role in your emotional health.
- The older you get, the less fiber you need, but not by much. Women under 50 need approximately 25 grams a day, but those over 50 only need 21 grams. The same is true for men who require 8 grams less after 50.
- One reason fiber fills you up has to do with the hunger-satiety hormone balance. It increases the satiety hormone and decreases the hunger hormone. That’s the opposite of what sugar or lack of sleep does.
- Be careful if you’re adding fiber supplements, drinks or pills, increasing it too fast can have negative consequences. It can cause GERD, bloating, mineral deficits, constipation or diarrhea.
- You also need to increase your water intake if you’re increasing fiber, unless the fiber comes from fruit or vegetables with a high water content. Boost your water intake in the same proportion as you boost your fiber intake.
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