Written by Libby Eyre, Certified Health Coach at Found Edited by Lynn Yudofsky, MD, Director of Behavioral Health at Found
A “Magic Bullet” is often described as the cure-all for disease and other ailments. Most scientists will tell you that it’s synonymous with a preventive medicine or a simple solution to a difficult problem. But, what if I told you that fiber actually falls into this category? It’s actually life changing! Fiber is a Magic Bullet when it comes to your health and weight care journey, and at Found, we’re all about it...so let’s bite in!
What is fiber?
Fiber, aka, roughage or bulk, is a carbohydrate (which includes vegetables😊) that isn’t digested by the body; it remains mostly intact as it passes through the digestive tract. Fiber provides a host of health benefits, like maintaining blood sugar levels and promoting healthy bowel movements, that make it crucial to health and weight loss. Vegetables, whole grains, fresh fruits, and legumes are all sources of fiber.
In the past, fiber has been broken down into two categories: those that are soluble in water, and those that are not. Soluble fibers attract water, forming a gel-like substance in the gut. This gel helps remove cholesterol and toxins, and slows the process of digestion. Insoluble fiber simply creates bulk in the stool, and helps scrub your intestines clean.
Most foods include a variety of fiber types. Using this knowledge, we can plan meals to include the optimal balance of fibers that provide a variety of health benefits!
Lower your cholesterol: Gummy fibers like psyllium and beta-glucan trap bad LDL cholesterol and flushes it out of the body before they can be absorbed.
Improve gut health: Fermentable fibers like oat bran, bananas, and chickpeas are broken down into simple sugars that feed beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. Happy gut flora improves digestion and gut regularity (ahem, daily bowel movements).
Regulate blood sugar: Viscous (soluble) fibers (e.g. brussel sprouts, asparagus, oats, etc.) gel up in the GI tract and slow the absorption of dietary sugar. This releases sugar into the bloodstream at a slower pace, instead of all at once.
Reduce cancer risk: Several studies show a decreased risk of gastrointestinal cancers, breast and ovarian cancers with increased fiber intake.
Fiber and weight loss
Why is fiber important for weight loss? By eating fiber, your digestion slows the rate of sugar absorption into your bloodstream. Since large amounts of sugar aren’t being dumped in all at once, the hormone insulin isn’t triggered to gather the sugar and store it away as fat. So it’s actually regulating your body and helping aid weight loss.
Eating fiber gives both the benefit of filling you up quickly and keeping you full longer. For example, serve oatmeal, a viscous fiber, with berries and nuts on top for bulk. Or, try a whole grain wheat wrap with hummus, lean meat, avocado and greens for lunch. Remember, it’s usually more beneficial to get your fiber from whole food sources rather than supplements since whole foods provide more beneficial nutrients.
Last, but not least, eating more fermentable fiber to support healthy bacteria can also help decrease inflammation in the gut and elsewhere in the body. Inflammation can hinder weight loss by prompting insulin resistance** and leading to fat storage. Feed that healthy gut bacteria with fermentable, prebiotic fibers like bananas or onions.
Try some simple swaps to boost your daily fiber intake. Add in more grains, like steel cut oats or quinoa. Pair it with protein for added hunger control. Add just one more serving of fruit or veggies to your day. Try adding blueberries or strawberries in your oatmeal, or cut vegetables alongside your sandwich or add them in.
Here’s what a fiber-full day looks like:
Breakfast: Whole grain, steel cut oats with slivered almonds, and strawberries.
Lunch: Mixed greens salad with chicken, avocado slices, black beans, and garden vegetables.
Dinner: Grilled salmon with whole grain quinoa, and asparagus.
Optional Snacks: Chickpea hummus with whole grain crackers and carrot sticks/apple slices with peanut butter.
RECENT FINDINGS HAVE FOUND THAT FIBER CAN ACTUALLY REDUCE DISEASES BY ACTIVATING THE INNATE IMMUNE SYSTEM. SO WARD OFF ILLNESSES BY EATING MORE FIBER!
Following a balanced diet while adding more fiber into your daily routine gives you the upper hand to keep your hunger levels in check and help with weight loss. Now you know the many benefits of fiber and how it can nourish your resilient body. Eating those fiber-rich foods and switching up a few of your choices will give you the advantage one bite at a time!