Fiber: The Indisputable Reasons of Why You Should Eat More Of It

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Fiber - Purpose Driven Mastery“Do or Do Not.  There is No Try.”

– Yoda

Fiber

Soluble and insoluble fiber are the two forms found in many of the food sources that you eat.

Soluble fiber is digestible and stimulates the growth of healthy bacteria and fatty acids required for the colon.[1]

Some common foods that contain soluble fiber are:

  • Bananas
  • Plums
  • Apples
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Fiber: Carrots - Purpose Driven MasteryAlmonds
  • Beans
  • Peas

On the contrary, insoluble fiber is indigestible, but it’s essential for cellular regeneration and repair for intestinal health.[2]

Below are some food examples that contain insoluble fiber.

  • Brown rice
  • Peas
  • Green beans
  • Fiber: Green Beans - Purpose Driven MasteryCauliflower
  • Barley
  • Avocado
  • Skins of fruits such as plums, kiwis, tomatoes, and grapes

How Fiber Can Fight Against Cancer and Diseases

Besides aiding in bowel movements, fiber can also decrease the risk of mouth and throat cancer according to a research[3] done by the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine in Switzerland.

Atherosclerosis is a disease caused by the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries that pump blood to the heart.  

When there’s a complete blockage preventing blood reaching the heart, a heart attack occurs.

Preventing heart disease is a huge concern because it’s the leading cause of death in the United States.[4]

Increasing fiber intake daily by 10 grams correlated to a 14% decrease in risk of all heart disease and a 27% decrease in risk of death caused by heart disease according to a research[5] analysis of 10 studies by the University of Minnesota.

Additionally, a Harvard University study also supported similar findings.  

This is also supported by a six-year study that consisted of 43,757 men showing an increase in fiber intake associated with a decreased risk of heart disease.[6]

Moreover, consuming more fiber also resulted in a decrease in total LDL (bad) cholesterol that helps protect against heart disease.[7]

How Fiber Can Fight Against Type Two Diabetes

Chronic high blood sugar levels caused by insufficient insulin production or inability for cells to use insulin properly cause type 2 diabetes.  

The risk for type 2 diabetes increases when fiber consumption is low while that of simple carbohydrates is high.[8]

However, you can reduce the risk by increasing your fiber consumption to improve your body’s ability to use insulin and regulate blood sugar levels.[9]

Other Powerful Benefits of Fiber

Metabolic syndrome comprises of disorders such as obesity (especially in the abdomen area), high blood pressure, high insulin levels, high levels of triglycerides (fat particles), and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.  

Metabolic syndrome causes many problems including higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.[10]

Fiber and magnesium were primarily responsible for the reduced risk of developing the metabolic syndrome according to a study[11] conducted by Tuft University.  

Lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, prevent weight gain, promote weight loss, and improved blood sugar level were shown in other research studies.[12]

Fiber also fights against colon disorder such as diverticulitis, an intestinal inflammation.

This is a concern if you’re over the age of 45.

An adequate amount of fiber consumption, especially the insoluble form, corresponded to a reduction in the risk of diverticulitis according to a Harvard University study[13] that consisted of 43881 men.  

How Much Fiber You Want to Eat Daily

You should eat about 14 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories eaten according to the Institute of Medicine.[14]

Don’t be too concerned about the actual amount of fiber you should eat every day.

Rather focus on the quality of food that you eat.

You will get plenty of fiber if you eat:

  • Raw vegetables
  • Legume, beans, nuts, and seeds

Try your best to avoid any processed foods despite the high fiber content shown on their “healthy” labels.  

Closing Thoughts

The scientific evidence is clear for supporting adequate fiber consumption to live a long and healthy life.

The health benefits range from reducing the risk of cancer to an improved bowel movement.

Although insoluble fiber doesn’t count as calories because it “passes” through the body, it’s a key fuel source for a healthy gut microbiome.    

To reap the benefits of fiber, slowly add in whole raw foods that are rich in fiber into your meals.  

Have fun and experiment with different foods to see what you like the most.  

Create your own “staple” list of fiber-rich foods that you look forward to eating!

It’s these small changes that form habits over time, which makes the biggest difference in the future!

Please share this article with anyone who you think may find it useful.

If you have any questions and/or comments on fiber, please leave a comment below or send me an email.

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Footnote References:

[1]Alison M. Stephen and John H. Cumings, “Mechanism of Action of Dietary Fibre in the Human Colon,” Nature 284, no. 5753 (1980): 283-4; Alfredo A. Rabassa and Arvey Rogers, “The Role of Short-Chain Fatty Acid Metabolism in Colonic Disorders,” American Journal of Gastroenterology 87, no.4 (1992):419-23.

[2]Medical College of Georgia, “Scientists Learn More about How Roughage Keeps You “Regular,”” Science Daily, accessed December 21, 2016, http://www.sciendaily.com/releases/2006/08/060823093156.html.

[3]Fabio Levi, Cristina Pasche, Franca Lucchini, Liliane Chatenoud, David R. Jacobs Jr. and Carlo La Vecchia, “Refine and Whole Grain Cereals and the Risk of Oral, Oesophageal and Laryngeal Cancer,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 54, no. 6 (2000): 487-89.

[4]“Leading Causes of Death,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last updated July 14, 2014, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.html.

[5]Mark A. Pereira, Eilis O’Reilly, Katarina Augustsson, Gary E. Fraser, Uri Golbourt, Berit L. Heitmann, Goran Hallmans, Paul Knekt, Simin Liu, Pirjo Pietinen, Donna Spiegelman, June Stevens, Jarmo Virtamo, Walter C. Willet, and Alberto Ascherio, “Dietary Fiber and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease,” Archives of Internal Medicine: A Pooled Analysis of Cohort Studies 164, no. 4 (2004): 370-76. doi: 10.1001/archinte.164.4.370.

[6]Eric B. Rimm, Alberto Ascherio, Edward Giovannucci, Donna Spiegelman, Meir J. Stampfer, and Walter C. Willett, “Vegetable, Fruit, and Cereal Fiber and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease Among Men,” JAMA 275, no. 6 (1996): 447-51. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530300031036.

[7]Lisa Brown, Bernard Rosner, Walter W. Willett, and Frank M. Sacks, “Cholesterol-Lowering Effects of Dietary Fiber: A Meta-Analysis,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 69, no. 1 (1999):30-42.

[8]Matthias B. Schulze, Simin Liu, Eric b. Rimm, JoAnn E. Manson, Walter C. Willett, and Frank B. Hu, “Glycemic Index, Glycemic Load, and Dietary Fiber Intake and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in Younger and Middle-Aged Women,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 80, no. 2 (2004): 348-56; Simin Liu, Walter C. Willett, Meir J. Stampfer, Frank B. Hu, Mary Franz, Laura Sampson, Charles H. Hennekens, and JoAnn E. Manson, “A Prospective Study of Dietary Glycemic Load, Carbohydrate Intake, and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in US Women,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 71, no. 6 (2000): 1455-61.

[9]Supriya Krishnan, Lynn Rosenberg, Martha Singer, Frank B. Hu, Luc Djoussé, L. Adrienne Cupples, and Julie R. Palmer, “Glycemic Index, Glycemic Load, and Cereal Fiber Intake and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in US Black Women,” Archives of Internal Medicine 167, no. 21 (2007): 2304-09. Doi: 10.1001/archinte.167.21.2304; Teresa T. Fung, Frank B. Hu, Mark A. Pereira, Simin Liu, Meir J. Stampfer, Graham A. Colditz, and Walter C. Willett, “Whole-Grain Intake and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Prospective Study in Men,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 76, no. 3 (2002):535-40.

[10]“Metabolic Syndrome,” MedlinePlus, accessed December 21, 2016, http://www.nlmnih.gov/medlineplus/metabolicsyndrome.html

[11]Nicola M. McKeown, James B. Meigs, Simin Liu, Edward Saltzman, Peter W. F. Wilson, and Paul F. Jacques, “Carbohydrates Nutrition, Insulin Resistance, and the Prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome in the Framingham Offspring Cohort,” Diabetes Care 27 no. 2 (2004): 538-46. Doi: 10.2337/diacare.27.2.538.

[12]Manisha Chadalia, Abhimanyu Garg, Dieter Lutjohann, Klaus von Bergmann, Scott M. Grundy, and Linda J. Brinkley, “Beneficial Effects of High Dietary Fiber Intake in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes mellitus,” New England Journal of Medicine 342 (May 11, 2000): 1392-98. Doi: 10.1056/NEJM200005113421903; Lawrence J. Appel, Thomas M. Vogt, Jeffrey A. Cutler, Marlene M. Vollmer, Laura P. Svetkey, Frank M. Sacks, George A. Bray, Thomas M. Vogt, Jeffrey A. Cutler, Marlene M. Windhauser, Pao-Hwa Lin, Njeri Karanaj, Denise Simons-Morton, Marjorie McCullough, Janis Swain, Priscilla Steele, Marguerite A. Evans, Edgar R. Miller, and David W. Harsha, “A Clinical Trial of the Effects of Dietary Patterns on Blood Pressure,” New England Journal of Medicine 336 (April 17, 1997): 1117-24. Doi: 10.1056/NEJM199704173361601; Cynthia M. Ripsin, Joseph M. Keenan, David R. Jacobs Jr., Patricia J. Elmer, Robert R. Welch, Linda Van Horn, Kiang Liu, Wilfred H. Turnbull, Forrest W. Thye, Mark Kestin, Maren Hegsted, Dennis M. Davidson, Michael H. Davison, Lynn D. Dugan, Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, and Stephanie Beling, “Oats Products and Lipid Lowering: A Meta-analysis,” JAMA 267, no. 24 (1992):3317-25. Doi: 10.1001/jama. 1992.03480240079039; June Stevens, “Does Dietary Fiber Affect Food Intake and Body Weight?” Journal of American Dietetic Association 88, no. 8 (1988): 939-42, 945.

[13]Walid H. Aldoori, Edward L. Giovannucci, Helaine R. H. Rockett, Laura Sampson, Eric B. Rimm, and Walter C. Willett, “A Prospective Study of Dietary Fiber Types and Symptomatic Diverticular Disease in Men,” Journal of Nutrition 128, no. 4 (1998): 714-19.

[14]Institute of Medicine, Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, (Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2005

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