Is your body telling you to up your fiber intake?
Fiber is part of a balanced diet, important to keep all the systems in your body running smoothly. Yet fewer than 1 in 10 American adults meet the daily recommendations for fiber intake. Suspect you’re not getting enough? Look out for these sneaky signals from your body, which can be a hint to up your fiber game.
More fiber means you’ll be fuller for longer. So, if you aren’t getting enough, your body may be giving you those hunger signals even after eating a meal. Fiber slows down digestion, giving you time to absorb all the nutrients you just ate, so you stay full for a while. It also helps regulate blood sugar, which helps keep hunger in check. Because fiber has been linked with satiety and sustained energy, it’s been researched to possibly aid in weight management by limiting overeating.
Fiber is important for intestinal health, and too little can lead to irregularity or constipation. In fact, diets with increased fiber and water are often recommended to work as a natural laxative. Experts suggest adding both soluble and insoluble fiber to your diet to help stay regular and alleviate constipation. Soluble fiber helps draw in water for softer bowel movements, and insoluble fiber adds bulk. Constipation sufferers know the struggles, and luckily there are natural ways to work on alleviating it (in addition to upping your fiber intake!).
The connection between fiber and high cholesterol has been studied quite a bit. There seems to be a strong association between getting enough fiber (at least 25 grams per day) and lower cholesterol. Fiber binds cholesterol. Without it, cholesterol lingers and builds up … like a guest that won’t leave. This seems to happen particularly with soluble fiber, which comes from oatmeal, beans, lentils, legumes, flax, and most fruits. Incorporate fiber and hearty-healthy foods to lower cholesterol levels.
If you are feeling extra drained or sluggish, a low-fiber diet may be to blame as adding fiber is recommended to boost energy. Although fiber doesn’t produce energy, it can help regulate it. There are some studies that suggest eating fiber in the morning can lead to energy that lasts through the day. Because fiber helps to release energy slowly, you can feel ready to take on the world by eating a fiber-rich breakfast.
Pain in the lower digestive tract can be due to diverticulitis, which is when the intestine is inflamed and creates painful pockets, usually due to low fiber intake. This can make digestion extremely painful. Studies have shown that increasing insoluble fiber can lower the risk of this happening. Fiber can also help by keeping the gut microbiome happy, leading to less pain in the intestines.
If you have diabetes and find controlling your blood sugar difficult, you may need to bulk up on the fiber. Fiber helps delay your body’s absorption of sugar. Consuming fiber in place of fats may also help keep sugar levels balanced. Think of fiber as creating a matrix that slows down sugars in its net. As a result, high fiber intake may be one way to help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Ever sleep well, start your day off great, but then hit that 2 pm slump like a ton of bricks? This is a tell-tale sign that you may need to increase your fiber intake. To avoid crashing, eat a balanced diet overall. Include fiber-rich foods to keep energy levels stable all day long, including during snacks and lunch. A low-fiber diet tends to coincide with not getting enough other nutrients as well, so focus on eating a range of fruits and vegetables.
Keep your diet varied, and keep the fiber flowing. Otherwise, your body may ask you to take a hint.