Why Fiber Is Nature’s Weight Loss Miracle
By Martin Brown
There are many methods you can use to lose weight. And if you’re like most of us, you’ve probably already tried many of them.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of people who would like to drop ten, twenty, thirty pounds or more don’t know that fiber is nature’s path to both weight loss and weight control.
For about 99.9% of the time humans have walked on Earth, they have eaten about 80 to 100 grams of fiber per day. On average, modern men and women consume 12 or fewer grams of dietary fiber per day. At a minimum, our fiber intake should be between 25 and 35 grams per day.
So why is fiber so important? Fiber performs a number of essential functions in regulating our diet and our overall health. Principally it regulates our food intake by encouraging the release of hormones that signal our brain that we feel full and therefore suppresses our appetite. High fiber foods are invariably the foods that we have to chew for longer periods of time and that as well signals our brain that we are full.
Fiber is found in nature’s bounty: nuts, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
During the last half century food manufacturers have changed whole grains into processed grains and in so doing they have helped immeasurably to spread the overweight and obesity epidemic throughout the developed and affluent nations of the world. Of course that wasn’t their intention; it’s merely an unintended consequence of their actions.
It’s also important to understand that, as a rule, foods that are high in fiber are also what nutritionists call, “less energy dense.” In other words they are higher in bulk and lower in caloric content. For example a teaspoon of sugar is a high calorie package with no fiber and very little nutritional benefit.
Let’s take a moment to understand that there are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble.
Insoluble fiber is important for moving material through your digestive system. The reason why constipation is such a problem for hundreds of millions of people eating a western diet is they lack the bulk fiber provides to create proper stool formation. Whole wheat fiber, wheat bran, nuts and vegetables are all good examples of insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber, on the other hand, dissolves in water. In our gut, it forms a gel-like substance that grabs hold of unhealthy materials like excess cholesterol and glucose, and flushes it out of the system. Some examples of soluble fiber includes oats, citrus fruits, beans, apples, carrots, and barley.
Foods that are high in soluble fiber also delay and regulate the absorption of sugars into the blood stream helping to prevent type 2 (adult onset) diabetes.
It’s difficult to fully imagine all the benefits of eating a high fiber diet until you actually begin to do it yourself. Begin by reading nutritional labels. Pickup, for example, a box of pancake mix and you’ll see one gram or less of dietary fiber versus two or three grams in whole grain pancake mix.
The same is true for cereals. Some have a gram or less per serving, others like oatmeal have four or more grams of fiber. It may seem small but all those ones add up to ten grams at the end of the day and those fours and fives bring you to 35 grams by day’s end. And that can be the difference between a healthy diet and a poor diet, from staying slim or gaining weight.
So if you want to watch your D-I-E-T, remember to think F-I-B-E-R.
His latest book is Fit in 50 Days.
More SMW Dieting Tips