How does soluble fiber help to lower cholesterol and blood-sugar levels?
The soluble fiber found in high fiber foods like apples and pears, plums and apricots; vegetables such as baked beans, peas and red kidney beans and porridge oats, literally grabs hold of cholesterol in your intestines and carries it out of your body. This means that less cholesterol is absorbed back into your blood from your gut and therefore cholesterol levels in your blood will then fall.
As for sugar, because soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in your gut, it physically slows down the speed of sugar absorption through your intestine wall. This, in turn, appears to reduce the need for the hormone insulin, which could benefit people with diabetes as well as help to reduce sugar highs and lows for everybody. Steady blood-sugar levels appear to lower our cravings for more sugar and keep us feeling full.
Will eating a high fiber food diet help me to lose weight?
It has been discovered that while lean adults have been found to eat an average of 19g of fiber a day, those who are obese chomped through just 13g of fiber even though they were eating more calories. So, the indication is that high-fiber diets may help you to control your weight.
It appears, for instance, that fiber has a modest effect on helping you to stay full not just because of the effect of the soluble fiber, but also because high fiber foods take a lot of chewing. Time yourself eating a bowl of muesli one morning and the next day try it with a bowl of refined cereal such as Frosties or Cheerios. While the museli can take a good eight to 10 minutes, the latter takes more like five minutes at most.
The action of chewing increases feelings of fullness – it sends messages to the вЂњIвЂ™m fullвЂќ parts of your brain. Secondly, because foods high in soluble fiber take longer to pass through your digestive system, various other вЂњIвЂ™m fullвЂќ parts of your brain are stimulated for longer, too.
Fiber also bulks out food, so you enjoy a greater physical satisfaction when you eat fiber-rich foods – another important role fiber can play in easy weight loss. For example, an apple can fill your whole hand, weigh around 100g and yet gives you just 100 calories.
Alternatively, you could eat about a third of a Mars bar – no bigger than a small box of matches – and consume the same number of calories. Given that we вЂeat with our eyesвЂ™ it is not surprising that fullness is also related to what the food portions look like. High fiber foods are bulky in nature, look larger and make you instantly feel as though you have eaten more.
Fiber may also slightly reduce the number of calories we absorb from foods.
Put all of these facts together and you can see how foods high in fiber could well aid your goal of shedding fat and losing weight quickly.
So what if want to eat more fiber, but it makes you feel bloated and gassy, how do you overcome this?
Some types of carbohydrate found in fiber rich foods like beans and lentils are not digested in your small intestine. When these make it through to your large intestine, special fiber-eating bacteria feed on them, producing the gases that make you feel bloated and give you wind. If you find this is a problem then try to introduce extra servings of fiber-rich pulses to your diet gradually so that your bacteria adapt. For many people this helps to increase their tolerance and the problem passes.
For those who have irritable bowel syndrome or disorders of the colon such as diverticulitis or CrohnвЂ™s disease, it is vital to discuss your healthy diet with your doctor and a registered dietitian to determine which high fiber foods are right for you, so that you can get your fiber intake balanced and fine-tuned to suit your individual system.