Dietary fiber is a big deal but why?

WHY IS DIETARY FIBER A BIG DEAL?

Be it in the form of switching to whole grains or increasing quantity of fruits and vegetables eaten, improving intake of fiber has very much been a part of any kind of dietary management, for a wide variety of goals. Why is it such a big deal and how does it play a role in setting things to harmony within your body? Read on to understand your way around the benefits, meeting adequate fiber can have.

  1. Improved Gut Health

The health of the beneficial bacteria in our intestines has been observed to play a crucial role when it comes to healthy functioning of the body. Your gut, surprisingly, has a lot of influence over most of the processes happening in the body, including maintaining an appropriate weight, blood cholesterol levels, digestive health, and immunity. Dietary fiber acts as a prebiotic and helps nourish these bacteria. It passes through the intestine without undergoing digestion and the natural flora of bacteria in your gut act on these prebiotics forming short chain fatty acids, which fuels your intestinal cells and helps it function better. Dietary fiber can also help maintain stool consistency and can be used to treat constipation. Soluble fiber can also help reduce diarrhoea episodes.

  1. Satiety

Dietary fiber can help you feel full, without adding calories. Therefore, extremely useful to help cut down on calories without having to feel restricted or hungry between meals.Studies have shown how increasing intake of fiber can automatically support weight loss goals by reducing intake of calories. This can be helpful in making you feel comfortable and good through your weight loss journey, thereby helping you achieve a healthy relationship with food.

  1. Less risk for Lifestyle diseases

Fiber has been linked to the prevention of a number of cardiovascular diseases and disorders. Its effect on reduction of plasma lipids (Cholesterol) is well defined and thereby having a beneficial effect on maintaining blood pressure, contributing to reduced risk of heart disease. Several studies have shown afterward that dietary fiber may also improve glycaemia, insulin resistance and weight loss. Fiber adds bulk to food being digested and facilitates slower release of glucose into the blood, preventing spikes in glucose levels.

To summarise, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state that meeting adequate fiber requirements of the day can contribute to a better quality of life across different age groups. Indian recommendations suggest an intake of at least 30-40 g of dietary fiber per day to attain its benefits. Gift yourself better health one change at a time – increasing fiber is a good place to begin.

REFERENCES:

  • Holscher HD. Dietary fiber and prebiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota. Gut Microbes. 2017 Mar 4;8(2):172-184. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2017.1290756. Epub 2017 Feb 6. PMID: 28165863; PMCID: PMC5390821.
  • Slavin J. Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients. 2013 Apr 22;5(4):1417-35. doi: 10.3390/nu5041417. PMID: 23609775; PMCID: PMC3705355.
  • Deehan EC, Duar RM, Armet AM, Perez-Muñoz ME, Jin M, Walter J. Modulation of the Gastrointestinal Microbiome with Nondigestible Fermentable Carbohydrates To Improve Human Health. Microbiol Spectr. 2017 Sep;5(5). doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.BAD-0019-2017. PMID: 28936943.
  • Aleixandre A, Miguel M. Dietary fiber and blood pressure control. Food Funct. 2016 Apr;7(4):1864-71. doi: 10.1039/c5fo00950b. PMID: 26923351.
  • Howarth NC, Saltzman E, Roberts SB. Dietary fiber and weight regulation. Nutr Rev. 2001 May;59(5):129-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2001.tb07001.x. PMID: 11396693.

SUJATHA S (REGISTERED DIETITIAN, CHENNAI)

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