Fiber from whole foods, fruits, and vegetables can also provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and hence it is important that you consume enough of fiber for your overall health.
What Are The Different Types Of Fiber?
Two types of fiber are available in whole foods: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Both have their own benefits.
Soluble fiber absorbs water and becomes a gel-like substance in digestion. This slows down digestion and keeps blood sugar stable.
According to the U.S. National Library Of Medicine, insoluble fiber increases stool bulk and facilitates food passing through the stomach and intestines easily.
It is important to remember that fiber from processed foods doesn’t offer the same benefits.
Processed foods that don’t naturally contain fiber are added with processed fiber. This is often called ‘isolated fibre’ in the food industry.
These isolated fibers can help you feel fuller and more regular, but they lack the phytonutrients and antioxidants found in whole grains, fruits, and pulses.
Processed fiber is derived from food like chicory root and corn, and then it’s added to foods such as snack bars, pasta and sugary cereals.
Real foods rich in fiber are also packaged with phytonutrients, antioxidants, and other health benefits. However, these benefits don’t exist when processed fiber is added.
In fact, certain functional isolated fibers in processed foods, particularly those that are non-viscous like inulin, fructooligosaccharides and wheat dextrin, don’t lower bad LDL cholesterol and improve glycemic control compared to fibers from whole foods, as per a November 2016 article published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
When choosing fiber-rich foods, you should ensure that they are whole and not packaged. Most people don’t get enough fiber.
According to a May 2012 study published in the Journal Of Medicine, more than 90% of American children and adults fail to get the recommended daily fiber intake.
Not Eating Enough Fiber
Americans eat a lot of processed foods and simple carbohydrates, such as potato chips, French fries, and hamburger buns. People also limit their vegetable intake due to inaccessibility and dislike. Shapiro says this can cause low fiber intake.
Whole foods can be expensive, intimidating, and time-consuming to prepare. Here are some of the warning signs that suggest you are not getting enough fibre.
Your Digestive System Might Take a Hit
If you are straining to poop, it could be an indication that your diet is not sufficient in fiber.
Constipation can be caused by not eating enough high-fiber foods. This happens when your poops are too difficult to pass or you have fewer than three bowel movements per week, according the Cleveland Clinic. How often you should poop is dependent on the individual.
The 2015-2020 Dietary guidelines recommend that you consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed each day to ensure that you are getting the recommended amount.
Dietary fiber is made from non-digestible carbs found in plants like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Since fiber is not digestible, it makes your stool larger and softer.
Larger stools are easier to move through your digestive system and out of your body. This means that the more fiber you consume, more regular you will be.
Although most foods contain a mixture of insoluble and soluble fiber, it is the insoluble fiber that is largely responsible for keeping people regular.
Tip: Do not overdo it with fiber. Gradually increase your fiber intake to give your body the time it needs to adjust. Drink enough water to enable your body to absorb fiber.
Your Heart Health May Suffer
According to the American Heart Association, high cholesterol (also known as hyperlipidemia) means that your blood contains too many fats like LDL (bad), cholesterol, and triglycerides.
If you have high levels of bad cholesterol or triglycerides in your blood, it can cause fatty deposits to build up in your arteries. This narrows these pathways and increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high levels of saturated fat and trans fats can lead to high cholesterol. These fats include full-fat dairy products, fatty meats, desserts and certain oils.
High cholesterol can be reduced by eating high-fiber foods, such as vegetables, fruits and beans. Unhealthy fats can also be replaced with those that are healthy, such as avocados, extra virgin olive oil, fatty fish, and nuts.
Soluble fiber in fruits, oats, chia and flax seed help reduce bad cholesterol. The gel removes cholesterol from the blood free-floating through our waste. All fiber is good for your heart health, cholesterol, and regularity. But soluble fiber can capture more.
Soluble fiber can be found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and sprouts.
A May 2012 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, that included more than 300,000 people from eight European countries, found that those who consumed at least 27.5 grams of fiber per day had a 20 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease. This is in comparison to those who consumed 17.5 grams of fiber.
There are trillions of bacteria living in your gut. According to Harvard Health, an imbalance in good and bad bacteria can lead to infection and disease.
You can increase your microbiome (the control center of your immune system) by eating more probiotic food like Greek yogurt, miso, and kefir.
If good bacteria doesn’t have prebiotics, it will die and your microbiome won’t be as rich as if it had high-fiber food.
Proper intake of probiotics and prebiotic fibre will make you more resistant to bad bacteria. The more good bacteria in your body, the stronger your immune system and the better you will be able to fight infection.
Prebiotic fibers can be found in onions, bananas and Jerusalem artichokes.
Your Blood Sugar Levels Could Go Haywire
Refined and highly processed carbohydrates and sugars found within packaged foods, white pasta, and bread can increase blood glucose levels and cause crash-like symptoms.
These simple carbs are more easily digested by the body than complex carbs like those found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Type 2 diabetes can develop in severe cases when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to break down the glucose in your blood.
However, whether you have type 2 diabetes or not it is important to eat a high-fiber diet so that you don’t get into the vicious circle of cravings.
Fiber forms gel-like substances when it combines with water. This helps slow down the absorption and digestion of carbohydrates.
Instead of experiencing a sudden spike in blood sugar like you would with simple sugars or carbohydrates, there is a gradual rise and fall in blood sugar. This is great for diabetics as it means that their blood sugar doesn’t spike.
Fiber takes longer to digest in your body. This allows you to feel fuller for longer periods of time.
You Are More Likely To Gain Weight
Consuming processed foods can increase cravings and lead to weight gain.
A November 2019 review in Nutrition highlighted how processed foods contribute to the obesity epidemic in America. However, countries in the Blue Zones where the intake of processed food is low, the rates of obesity and chronic diseases are much lower.
Health experts recommend that you focus on fiber to combat weight gain. Fiber will curb your cravings and stabilize blood sugar.
Fiber is low in calories because we don’t digest it. Foods high in fiber are therefore less caloric than they claim. Fiber is a food our bodies attempt to digest, which means we are able to stay fuller for longer periods of the day until it passes through our systems.
Tip: Fill half of your plate with vegetables for all meals and snacks, as they are high in volume and low calories. These are some great snack and meal ideas.
- Peanut butter and apple
- Hummus and whole-wheat crackers
- Carrots and celery with Guacamole
- Rice and beans
- Whole-wheat avocado toast
- Trail mix
- Turkey chili
- Oatmeal with blueberries and chia seeds
There are many health benefits of eating more fiber. It’s important that you make it a priority in your diet, just like lean protein and healthy oils.
Be sure to choose whole food sources of fiber instead of processed foods with isolated fiber.
Isolated fiber, which is commonly found in protein bars and cereals, doesn’t contain the same phytonutrients or antioxidants your body requires to sustain basic daily functions.
All vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and beans are great sources of insoluble and soluble fiber.