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Fiber is probably one of the health-related words that don’t send you running to the health supplement section of the supermarket, but it’s actually worth more than you may think.
Eating more fiber delivers a slew of health benefits. Here are the top health benefits of high fiber foods to encourage you to get your fill.
You’ll Lose Weight
Even if increasing your fiber intake is the only dietary change you make, you’ll shed pounds. Dieters who were told to get at least 30 grams of fiber a day, but given no other dietary parameters, lost a significant amount of Weight, found a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In fact, they lost nearly as much as a group put on a much more complex diet that required limiting calories, fat, sugar and salt and upping fruit, veggie, and whole-grain consumption. High fiber foods not only fill you up faster and keep you satisfied longer, but they also prevent your body from absorbing some of the calories in the foods you eat.
Maintain a Healthier Weight Over Time
Fiber can also help you avoid putting pounds back on. People who got more fiber tended to be leaner overall—while those who were obese got an average of almost 1 gram a day less fiber than normal-weight participants, according to a study at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Cut Your Type 2 Diabetes Risk
It’s a well-established fact. A recent analysis of 19 studies, for example, found that people who ate the most fiber—more than 26 grams a day—lowered their odds of the disease by 18 percent, compared to those who consumed the least (less than 19 grams daily). The researchers believe that it’s fiber’s one-two punch of keeping blood sugar levels steady and keeping you at a healthy weight that may help stave off the development of diabetes.
Have Healthier Gut Bacteria
The good bacteria in your digestive system feed off fiber—and flourish. As your gut bacteria gobble up fiber that has fermented in your G.I. tract (delish), they produce short-chain fatty acids that have a host of benefits—including lowering systemic inflammation, which has been linked to obesity and nearly every major chronic health problem. The catch: You’ve got to consistently get enough grams—ideally every day, if not most days of the week—to keep getting the benefits. Skimping on fiber shifts bacteria populations in a way that increases inflammation in the body.
Reduce Your Risk of Certain Cancers
Every 10 grams of fiber you eat is associated with a 10 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer and a 5 percent fall in breast cancer risk, says a study published in the Annals of Oncology. In addition to the anti-cancer effects of fiber, the foods that contain it—like veggies and fruits—are also rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that could further reduce your odds.
Get an All-Natural Detox
Who needs a juice cleanse? Fiber naturally scrubs and promotes the elimination of toxins from your G.I. tract. Because insoluble fiber makes things move along more quickly, it limits the amount of time that chemicals like BPA, mercury, and pesticides stay in your system. The faster they go through you, the less chance they have to cause harm.
Have Healthier Bones
Some types of soluble fiber—dubbed “prebiotics” and found in asparagus, leeks, soybeans, wheat, and oats—have been shown to increase the bioavailability of minerals like calcium in the foods you eat, which may help maintain bone density.