Fiber amongst many other essential compounds is important for your health. There was a time when people thought fiber did not have much significant health value. With the passage of time, several studies were conducted and the evidence regarding fiber and their influence on overall health came to light. One of the key benefits of fiber is that it helps keep your digestive system healthy and chronic diseases at bay.
Considering our daily diets and the amount of junk food we consume on a regular basis, we are prone to develop all sorts of digestive system problems. Therefore, fiber is as necessary and important as it could get. However, not every fiber is the same. There are different types and each carry different health effects. Therefore, let us discuss why you should fall in love with fiber.
What is Fiber?
In simple words, fiber is basically non-digestible carbohydrates, usually found in foods. Furthermore, fiber could be categorized into two types based on water solubility.
Soluble Fiber: As the term suggests, the body digests soluble fiber once consumed. These fibers dissolve with the help of water and help the ‘good’ gut bacteria in the digestive system against diseases and bad bacteria.
Insoluble Fiber: Insoluble fibers are neither dissolved by water nor digested by the digestive system.
While discussing fiber, it is important to remember that fibers exist in several types. While many of them are digested by the body, others mostly remain useless. Technically, fibers are usually referred to as fermentable or non-fermentable, which helps define as to whether a particular type of fiber is beneficial to the gut bacteria or not.
If you were to study fiber in detail, you would discover that things become a bit confusing between soluble and insoluble fibers. As opposed to insoluble fibers not being digested, the good bacteria digest some insoluble fibers in the intestine, since most foods that we consume on a daily basis consist of both soluble and insoluble fibers.
Fiber Helps ‘Good’ Gut Bacteria
There is an abundance of bacteria found in the human body. So much that they outnumber the cells by 10:1. Furthermore, the bacteria are found all over inside the body. It exists in the mouth, nose, skin, and mostly in the large intestine. The large intestine consists of more than 500 types of bacteria, which bring the total sum to around 100 trillion cells. This bacteria existing in the gut is known as gut flora.
Considering the huge numbers, you might think of it as harmful, which is in fact not. In reality, this is beneficial to you and your digestive system. The bacteria inside your gut receive food and shelter via the food you consume. In return, the bacteria help keep your digestive system healthy and fights harmful diseases. The bacteria not only help keep the digestive system healthy but maintains the blood sugar level, weight and improves both the brain and immune function.
You might be wondering as to what all this has to do with fiber. The thing is that fibers need a food source to help them survive and function. However, the problem is that most of the fibers when consumed are dissolved in your bloodstream. As a result, by the time it reaches your large intestine, there is nothing significant left for your gut flora. At the same time, since human cells do not possess the ability to digest fiber, it reaches directly to your large intestine without changing its form.
At the same time, the bacteria in the large intestine is not able to dissolve most of these fibers. This is important because the gut needs these fibers to help improve the digestive system. As a result, gut bacteria are fed to promote their growth and production. With the production of gut bacteria, short-chain fatty acids that contain propionate, acetate, and butyrate are produced as well amongst, which butyrate happens to be the most important. Altogether, this helps your digestive system with preventing disorders and problems associated with inflammation.
Some Fibers Help You Lose Weight
It might be surprising to hear that certain types of fibers help you lose weight by keeping your stomach full and reducing regular cravings. If you were to consume foods with comparatively more fiber content, it will make you feel fuller and reduce your appetite. As a result, you shall consume fewer calories and automatically lose some weight in the long-run. However, then again it depends on the fiber type. While some types have a direct relation with weight loss, others do not have any significant effect.
Fibers Can Help Reduce Blood Sugar
Fibers feature a lower glycemic index. What this means is that there are fewer chances of your blood sugar spiking after consuming high-carb diets. However, at the same time, if you are consuming diets with refined carb sources then the chances of your blood sugar spiking are comparatively more. Therefore, if you are munching on meals that consist of high-viscosity soluble fibers, you do not need to be worried about your blood sugar levels.
Fibers Can Help Reduce Chances of Colorectal Cancer
Over the years, colorectal cancer has resulted in millions of deaths around the world. In this respect, the intake of meals with high fiber content can help reduce the chances of colorectal cancer. At the same time, if you were to consume fresh fruits and vegetables with other essential healthy nutrients, it could further help your body fight against cancerous cells.
Can Help Prevent Constipation
One of the main advantages of consuming fibers is reducing the chances of constipation. Chronic constipation can be really painful and at times pose a serious risk to the kidneys. Fiber is known to absorb water that is present inside the large intestine and bulks up the stool while helping it move through the intestine. While fibers do help with constipation but it depends on the type. A study conducted on 63 individuals with chronic constipation found that the intake of meals with low-fiber content helped fix the problem.
In simple words, fibers that add water content to your stool produce a laxative effect, whereas those that reduce the water content, add mass to the dry stool result in constipation. Therefore, if you are someone who is suffering from constipation problems, it is suggested that you be very careful during its intake.
Concluding, fibers have several health benefits. Apart from helping your digestive system, it reduces the risk of colorectal cancer as well. The production of short-fatty acids and gut bacteria combine, help the good bacteria against diseases and disorders. However, since fibers exist in several types, you have to be careful regarding the advantages and disadvantages.