Sure, you drink plenty of water, eat a variety of vegetables and make sure you get enough protein in a typical day.
But, do you know many people are forgetting to add one thing to their diet that's crucially important not only for weight management but for a healthy gut?
It's fiber and not enough Americans are eating it. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, only about 5% of Americans eat enough fiber.
What you eat or don't eat in this case – wreacks havoc on your gut. A diet low in fiber, as well as other factors, including how much sun you get and the supplements you take, can change the compositions and function of your gut flora, essentially weakening your health.
Such health problems include:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Weight Gain and Obesity
- Coronary Heart Disease
- Colon Cancer (cancer of the large intestine)
Fiber and Your Digestive System
Your digestive system is lined with muscles that massage food along the digestive tract from the moment food is swallowed to the time it's passed out of the bowel.
Dietary fiber helps in preventing constipation as well as diarrhea as it simultaneously works to soften your stools while solidifying the watery stool making it easier to pass.
Having a diet loaded with foods high in fiber can help your digestive system to function in an efficient way.
Additionally a fiber-rich diet might also reduce the chances of hemorrhoids and related diseases.
Fiber and Weight Loss
Did you know fiber helps you lose weight? Want to know how?
Meals with more fiber provide more food with fewer calories and it adds bulk without energy.
Soluble fiber forms a gel in your body slowing down:
- The process of emptying the stomach
- The transit time food travels through your digestive system
It also delays the absorption of sugar from the intestine. This helps maintain the level of blood sugar and prevent a rapid rise in the blood insulin level – which is linked to obesity and increased risk of diabetes.
When people eat a fiber-filled diet, their gut benefits from this food and helps create healthy gut.
According to a study at Stanford University, people who had a high level of the gut microbe Akkermansia muciniphila – a strain responsible for leanness – and increased their fiber intake, lost weight, had better cholesterol and reduced risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease.
But, don't worry, if you don't have plenty of Akkermansia muciniphila in your gut, eating a diet rich in fiber increases their population, aiding in better health.
Fiber and Blood Cholesterol
There is good evidence soluble fiber reduces the level of blood cholesterol. When your blood cholesterol level is high, fat get deposited along the artery walls.
This can make them narrow, which can be dangerous and can lead to a high risk of coronary heart disease. It's believed that soluble fiber lowers the level of blood cholesterol by binding the bile acids and then passing them out through the bowel.
While all this talk about your bowels and stools isn't something to talk about at the dinner table, having a healthy gut and digestion starts with the foods you eat. Let's look at ways to increase your fiber intake.
Easy Ways to Increase Fiber Intake
You might think you're getting enough fiber in your diet. After all, many foods are fortified with fiber, right?
Well, the type of fiber manufacturers use, inulin, doesn't have the same effect as natural sources of fiber from whole foods.
So, when looking to add more fiber, choose whole foods rather than fortified foods.
If you don't know how much fiber you should get, men should shoot for 38 grams of fiber and women should aim for 25 grams of fiber a day. Here are some ideas to get some more fiber in your body:
- Eat breakfast cereal such as barley or oats.
- Switch to multigrain bread and brown rice.
- Snack on dry fruits, fruits, and nuts instead of low fiber biscuits and cakes.
- Include an extra vegetable in your daily evening meal.
- Eat more legumes.
Don't Forget the Fiber
Leading a healthy life can sometimes seem like an uphill battle. You try to eat a healthy diet, avoid processed foods and supplement with vitamins and minerals.
But, as long as you remember to eat a well-balanced meal and include plenty of vegetables and water in your diet, you won't have any problems losing weight or keeping your gut healthy.
Here at The Allergy Kit you'll find plenty of remedies for your health problems – from leaky gut to acid reflux.
And when you include our kit in your health plan, you won't have to worry anymore about your allergies or health problems.
Over to you – what steps are you going to take to increase your fiber and lead a healthier life?