You’ve heard all about how important fiber is. Doctors tell you to get it into your diet through your food as much as possible; that you need it for your digestive system to work properly. They even tell you the best types of foods to eat to make sure you get the right type of fiber.
What many doctors don’t tell you is exactly what fiber will do to your body. You don’t get to learn about the two types of fiber and what they will help with. Doctors also refrain from telling you some of the negatives of getting fiber – or too much of it – in your diet.
So, here’s a look at everything you need to know about fiber and what it does to your body. It’s time to make sure you only get the best amount to support your body fully.
Soluble vs. Insoluble Fibre to Support the Body
There are two types of fiber that you will get in your diet. They are soluble and insoluble fiber. Both offer different benefits and are needed for different reasons. Yes, you will need to get both types to focus on a healthy and balanced diet and support your digestive system fully.
Soluble fiber is as it sounds: it dissolves in water. Your digestive system has water within it, which means the fiber will dissolve and work by being absorbed into other parts of the body. One of those is through cholesterol levels. When you get more fiber, there are possibilities that your cholesterol levels in the blood will reduce. Fiber doesn’t discriminate between good and bad cholesterol.
Soluble fiber will also help to keep the stools soft. It’s highly beneficial for those who have problems with constipation, as it will dissolve into the harder elements that are making you backed up.
Most the food that you will eat is soluble fiber. These foods include root vegetables, fruit, oats, and barley.
On the other hand, insoluble fiber won’t dissolve in any water. It works through your digestive system without breaking down at all. It’s almost like a force that pushes food through the digestive system to help prevent constipation.
Rather than softening the stools, insoluble fiberhelps to keep your bowels working properly. It doesn’t just treat the symptom of constipation but treats the reason for it.
This is also a form of fiber to eat if you have loose stools. Soluble fiber will make soft stools softer, but insoluble fiber helps to add some bulk to them to make them more comfortable to pass.
Insoluble fiber is the type that you will find in bran, whole grains, cereals, and most nuts and seeds.
Reducing the Sugar Levels in the Body
You may notice that fiber is in food that is traditionally considered full of sugars or carbs. Sure enough, bread, pasta, and fruits are full of various carbohydrates and natural sugars. The sugars on their own could cause health problems, especially if eaten in large amounts.
It’s the fiber in them that makes them healthier. The fiber helps to slow the absorption of the sugars down. Rather than going into the bloodstream, they are broken down and used effectively throughout the course of the day. Foods that are full of fiber are on the lower end of the glycaemic index, which is a sign of whether the foods are likely to cause insulin increases or not.
Food that has both sugars and fiber will breakdown in the small intestine and be used to help push food through or soften stools. The nutrients will be used to keep the digestive system working as it should. The fiber provides fuel to help build the levels of good bacteria in the large intestine, meaning more vitamin B12 is produced, and more fatty acids are available to protect the whole body.
At the same time, the fiber can help to speed up the waste removal process in the body. Toxins do buildup throughout the day. While the body tries to get rid of them, there are times that we have more toxins than we should. The organs can’t cope as well, and it can lead to various health problems.
Fibre Helps to Reduce Hunger Pangs
Scientists debate this benefit of fiber a lot, but there is no denying that fiber can make someone feel fuller – and for longer. This is because foods that have plenty of fiber take longer to break down. They are in the stomach and intestines for longer, so the body doesn’t feel the need to eat more.
Breaking down slowly also helps to keep the energy levels up. The energy is released over the period of a few hours, unlike foods that have more sugar than fiber. When foods have too much sugar, they metabolize in the bloodstream and insulin is used to get rid of them as soon as possible. People often complain of crashes straight after eating something that is high in sugar.
By reducing hunger pangs, people have noted that high-fibre foods help them lose weight. After all, they don’t eat as many calories throughout the day. They don’t feel hungry, so aren’t as likely to snack on high-calorie foods. It’s much easier to create a calorie deficit daily, meaning the body must take some of the calories stored.
When the sugars aren’t quickly released into the bloodstream, the metabolism isn’t forced to get rid of them as quickly. High sugar foods make the metabolism store the calories from the foods for later to deal with the sugar and insulin. Of course, the metabolism never comes back to these calories, so you’re left storing calories that you shouldn’t need to.
It Helps Support the Heart Health
As we live longer, we start to look at preventative measures to protect our health. Our hearts are constantly working – beating to keep the blood pumping around the system. The heart needs support all the time, and you can do that through your diet.
Fiber helps to support the heart health in a few ways. The main one is through the reduction of cholesterol in the body. High cholesterol levels have been linked to higher risks of stroke and heart attacks. This is more when the bad cholesterol levels are high, but scientists are still trying to understand this element in the body.
When you get more soluble fiber, you can reduce your cholesterol levels. You can focus on keeping the good cholesterol up and minimize the risk to your heart health.
Fibre will also keep your sugar levels down, which in turn helps to protect your heart health. At the same time, the fiber helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, protecting your whole cardiovascular system.
Reduce Inflammation and Chronic Pain
We’ve already looked at how fiber works to protect the digestive system. It keeps the system working effectively, which will help to avoid bloating and constipation. Fibre has also been linked to reducing chronic digestive pain, especially irritable bowel syndrome.
There are some debates over this. After all, some of the food sources of fiber can make IBS worse. IBS is often linked to eating gluten, which is found in some forms of both insoluble and soluble fiber. If you want to reduce the side effects of IBS, you’ll need to make sure that you get your fiber from the best sources for you.
However, fiber has been linked to reducing inflammation in the body. You promote the production of good bacteria in the gut and ensure the digestive system works effectively. This means that the immune system is protected and isn’t as likely to set off the inflammation processes, believing that there are dangerous elements in the body.
Inflammation is one of the most common reasons for chronic pain, throughout the body. When it comes to inflammation in the digestive system, it can lead to cramping and pain, along with other digestive discomforts.
You Can Get Too Much Fibre
Just like any other food, it is possible to get too much of a good thing. This is certainly the case when it comes to fiber. This is a problem that many people suffer from, believing that they are doing the best for their body. They may not actually get too much fiber for a healthy body, but they get too much compared to what their body is used to. It takes the time to get used to the new levels.
It’s important to increase the amount of fibre-filled foods you eat gradually. This will help to keep bloating, gas, and pain to a minimum as your digestive system gets used to your new levels.
You will also want to think about the types of dietary fiber you eat. Insoluble fiber doesn’t break down and can be more painful and bloating than soluble fiber.
If you get too much fiberdaily, you can make it harder for the body to absorb some nutrients. This is more the case with insoluble fiber since it doesn’t dissolve in water. It’s harder for nutrients to get through the intestinal walls since the food that the nutrients are in is just pushed right through the system.
When you do have fiber, you want to make sure that you still get plenty of water. This will help to keep the stools soft, especially if you eat a lot of insoluble fiber.
Doctors recommend getting more soluble fiber sources in your diet. The human body doesn’t need grains to survive. This is one of the reasons many people follow the Paleo diet. There are more nutrients in the likes of fruit and vegetables. Since they are soluble forms, they will be easier for the body to dissolve and absorb the nutrients from.
The Body Isn’t Designed to Digest Fibre
While insoluble fiber can be beneficial, many health experts believe that the body isn’t designed to digest them. It’s designed for the soluble fiber, which will easily pass through the system. Because of this, many experts suggest focusing on the soluble levels more.
Insoluble fiber can cause far more problems than it helps to solve. It sits in the digestive system and causes a blockage. This can lead to some problems like constipation and chronic pain. Adding more insoluble fiber will just add to the problem.
Doctors sometimes recommend a low fiber diet. This helps the digestive system deal with the levels of insoluble fiber already there, pushing it through and getting rid of it. This low-fiber diet is also recommended for those who have bad bacteria and fungi in the diet. The low fiber diet helps to remove the problems and get the immune system to work before adding more problems to it.
Getting more water will help to deal with the high insoluble fiber levels. It pushes through the blockages. While the fiber doesn’t dissolve, it may break down to stop creating pain.
Fibre Is Both Good and Bad
Nothing is 100% good for you. A healthy and balanced diet is all about everything in moderation, and that includes the food that is touted as healthy. Fiber is one of the worst nutrients for being good and bad at the same time.
Soluble fiber is one of the best that you can get. It helps to soften the stools and supports the digestive system. At the same time, insoluble fiber is needed now and then. What you want to do is avoid getting too much. Most of us will eat insoluble fiber more that soluble fiber because we like to eat whole grains. But the body doesn’t need them.
It’s time to put the body first and think about how fiber is affecting you. Increase your fiber intake gradually and listen to what your digestive system is trying to tell you. This is a difficult one, as the cramps can be due to lack of fiber or too much fiber – or just your body getting used to the changes you’re making!