In this final article on the benefits of fiber we’re going to take a trip down the esophagus and through the stomach into the realm of gut health. Namely, how much of a role fiber plays in maintaining, rebuilding and strengthening the gut microbiome. Let’s get to it:
Fiber Improves Your Gut Health
Evidence is continually emerging about the importance of gut bacteria. General gut health is a key aspect of health and affects nearly every aspect of your body including digestion, weight gain, energy levels, hormones, performance and chronic diseases such as heart diseases (9-13).
Have you ever heard the saying that we are actually only 10% human? It refers to the fact that 90% of our body is made up of bacteria which affect every single cell and physiological process. Within these bacteria there are about 500 different strains, some are healthy and provide us with unique benefits, whereas some are negative and are detrimental to our health.
Unfortunately, a bad lifestyle and diet increases our bad gut bacteria while simultaneously damaging our good bacteria, shifting this balance and making it harder for our body to reach optimal health. Luckily, fiber is one of a few unique nutrients that improve our gut bacteria levels.
Fiber achieves this because it actually ‘feeds’ the bacteria, helping them survive just like all the other cells and the whole human body in general. Most nutrients, such as carbs, protein and fat fail to do this as they are metabolized too quickly and utilized via different mechanisms. However, our digestive track does not have the enzymes to breakdown fiber, allowing it to pass through into the large intestine. This is where it can get to work and feed the good bacteria, which is why some specific types of fiber are classed as healthy prebiotics (14).
By improving our good bacteria, we in turn improve overall health and reduce disease risk. These healthy bacteria then go on to produce other disease-fighting super nutrients including short chain fatty acids like butyrate, propionate and acetate (15-18).
As research continues to emerge showing the key importance of our gut health, the benefits and importance of a high fiber intake will only continue to expand.
Sources of Fiber
The recommended intake of fiber varies between government recommendations and other recommendations from leading researchers and experts. On average, the suggested intake is 35 - 50 grams per day; however, most people only average around half of this suggested intake per day.
If you are struggling to hit your daily fiber intake we suggest you focus on these foods, which as mentioned at the start, also tend to be nutrient rich and weight loss friendly. If you are on a low-carb diet and avoiding grains or starches it can become even harder to hit your daily fiber needs, which is where fiber supplementation can become key.
High fiber foods include:
- Split Peas
- Black Beans
- Lima Beans
- Brussels Sprouts
- Whole Grains
- Other Fruits and Vegetables
- Nuts and Seeds
- Quest Cereal Bars, Hero Bars and Protein Bars
- Fiber Supplements
Hopefully you can now see why fiber is a key nutrient that you should be prioritizing, just as you would with your total intake of carbs, fats and proteins.
The benefits of fiber extend into every area imaginable, from physique transformation to general health and life expectancy.
Although a higher fiber intake may seem hard, simple adjustments to your diet such as including a daily salad with some of the foods listed above, and a Quest bar later in the day as a snack, can help you reach the recommended 35-gram total.
If you are trying to lose weight or clean up your diet, focus on the single ingredient high fiber foods listed above, combined with proteins and healthy fats - you will quickly clean up your diet and see great results.
Rudy Mawer is a sports scientist, researcher and sports nutritionist. He's worked and consulted with NBA athletes, Hollywood Celebs, MLB athletes, Gold Medalists, World Record Holders, Pro Bodybuilders and even the US Navy. He specializes in the latest science then applying it to fat loss, hormones and female specific transformations. He has over 500,000 members on his famous physique plans and helps educate personal trainers on his seminars around the world.
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