High on Fiber
Research shows that most American’s don’t even come close to getting the recommended 32 grams of fiber each day.
Most popularly known for its digestive health benefits, fiber helps move food through the digestive tract, absorbing water along the way and easing bowel movements. Since the digestive tract contains more bacteria than cells in our bodies, the fiber helps ensure that the good bacteria stay alive to fight off the bad bacteria. But did you know fiber also has a number of other long-term health benefits?
- Fiber helps with the stabilization of blood sugar levels. Consuming fiber slows down the passage of food through the stomach, and therefore slows down the absorption of glucose in the blood stream. This prevents insulin spikes that can send blood sugars low and cause you to become hungry and start eating again.
- Fiber keeps you full longer. By eating a high-fiber diet, you are less likely to experience cravings for high-fat foods and junk foods with excess sugar. In fact, fiber is a great tool for weight loss and weight management.
- Fiber has long-term heart health benefits. Studies have shown that men and women who eat a fiber-rich diet have a 40 percent less chance of developing heart disease than those who do not get enough fiber in their diets. Researchers have found that for every 7 grams more fiber you consume daily, your risk of stroke decreases by 7 percent.
- Fiber gives you more energy. You will naturally feel better when eating more high-fiber foods because of the smaller amount of processed, sugary and high-fat foods in your diet. Also, when your digestive system is working efficiently, blood sugar levels are generally more stable and your heart in better health. You’ll have more energy and feel better overall.
Getting enough fiber in your diet also has been found to have certain cancer fighting qualities. Studies have found that increased fiber intake decreases the risk of colorectal cancer due to fiber’s ability to shorten the amount of time that wastes travels through the colon, which lowers the chances that intestinal cells will be affected by the waste’s carcinogens.
When increasing your fiber intake, it’s important to ensure you are getting it from whole foods versus processed foods. Many processed foods are labeled “high in fiber” or “good source of fiber,” but they may not be from food sources that your body can easily digest. So when adding fiber to your diet, you can’t go wrong with whole foods like vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits.
Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus and in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Schedule an appointment online today.