There are multiple different nutrients that we should make sure we have in our diets to stay healthy. Fiber is one of the most important, even if it might not seem particularly interesting. Although it might make you think of whole wheat and bran flakes, you shouldn't dismiss fiber and the key role that it has. Fiber is key to keeping your digestive system regular, which has a number of excellent follow-on benefits. It can help to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal disorders, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol.
So why is fiber so important, what does it do, and how much of it do we really need?
The Role of Fiber in Our Diets
Fiber is one of the most important things in our diets. Fiber is found in plant-based foods, ranging from fruits and vegetables to grains. There are two types of fiber, soluble fiber, and insoluble fiber. We require both types of fiber for a healthy diet. Simply put, soluble fiber dissolves in water, while insoluble fiber doesn't. Soluble fiber is found in foods like apples, carrots, beans, and lentils.
Insoluble fiber comes from whole grains, whole bran, nuts, berries, and the skins of many fruits and vegetables. It's important for bringing moisture into the gut and softening stools, which helps to keep bowel movements regular. Fiber is also important for feeding healthy gut bacteria.
What Counts as a High-Fiber Diet?
It's important to make sure you get plenty of fiber in your diet, but how much do we actually need? What counts as a high-fiber diet? The Institute of Medicine says that up to the age of 50, men should get 38 grams of dietary fiber per day and women should get 25 grams. Over the age of 50, men should have 30 grams per day and women should have 21 grams per day. However, only 5% of people in the US meet these daily recommendations.
In addition to adding high-fiber foods to your diet, you can make sure you get enough fiber with supplements. Our Fiber 14g supplement gives you 50% of your daily recommended amount, while Complete Cleansing Fiber can be used for a digestive cleanse.
Can you have too much fiber?
A high-fiber diet is good for your health, but if you're aiming to add more to your diet, it's important not to add too much too quickly. It could lead to gas, bloating, and cramping. If you want to get more fiber into your diet, add it slowly over a few weeks. This gives the bacteria in your gut time to adjust.
Key Health Benefits of a High-Fiber Diet
Eating a diet high in fiber will benefit your health in multiple ways. If you increase the amount of fiber in your diet, you could benefit in the following ways:
Regular digestion and bowel movements
Dietary fiber is key to keeping your digestive system working properly. It's important for healthy bowels and ensuring you have regular bowel movements. When you get plenty of dietary fiber, it increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it. This makes it easier to pass, which means you have a lower risk of constipation. Fiber can help to make loose stools more solid too.
Maintain bowel health
Getting enough fiber in your diet is good for your overall bowel health. It helps to reduce the risk of a number of problems and diseases related to your bowels and gastrointestinal system. A high-fiber diet can help to lower your risk of hemorrhoids and diverticular disease, which is the development of pockets in your colon. Another excellent benefit of a high-fiber diet is that it decreases your risk of colorectal cancer.
Healthy levels of cholesterol are one of the things you can control with your diet. Soluble fiber might be able to lower your blood cholesterol level by lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also often called "bad" cholesterol. High-fiber foods could also help to keep your heart healthy, possibly providing benefits such as lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation.
Control blood sugar levels
Ensuring you have plenty of dietary fiber can help you to prevent type 2 diabetes. There are several factors that can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, including genetics, but including lots of insoluble fiber in your diet could help to lower that risk. People who already have diabetes can also benefit from a high-fiber diet. It lowers blood sugar levels by helping with the absorption of sugar.
Maintain a healthy weight
High-fiber foods can also help you to maintain a healthy weight, although it's somewhat indirect. Foods with lots of fiber tend to be more filling compared to foods that have less fiber. That means that you can feel satisfied quicker when you're eating and will ultimately eat less if you stop when you feel satiated. High-fiber foods also often take longer to eat and are lower in calories, helping to prevent you from eating past the point of fullness.
Finally, dietary fiber can help you to live longer. Research suggests that a high-fiber diet is linked to a lower risk of multiple types of cancer and a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. You can extend your lifespan by changing your diet and/or using a fiber supplement to make sure you get enough fiber in your diet.
Fiber is hugely important to get into your diet, but many of us don't get enough. By increasing the amount of fiber you get every day, you can receive some excellent health benefits. You can start to slowly add more fiber into your diet to ensure you get the daily recommended amount. Taking a daily supplement can help to make it easier, especially if you struggle to get enough fiber through what you eat.
Take a look at our fiber supplements to find one that suits you. Adding a fiber supplement to your routine or occasionally giving yourself a fiber boost can keep your gut and the rest of your body healthy.