Mmm, delicious fiber. If that’s a sentence that has never come out of your mouth, it’s hard to blame you. Few people find fiber alone particularly interesting as a food group, unless you’re a big fan of Metamucil commercials and their enthusiastic, silver-haired spokespeople. But what if we told you that you should get excited about fiber—or at least eat more of it?
You might not be excited yet, but if you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight, want to ward off health risks and live longer, fiber is your best friend. And while “healthy gut bacteria” and “bowel regularity” might not be the sexiest phrases you’ve ever heard, those are some of the other benefits that come along with eating a fiber-rich diet. Now you understand why the people in the commercials are so happy.
Get these health benefits by adding more fiber to your diet
- Lose or maintain your weight. Did you know that you can lose weight simply by increasing your fiber intake? For anyone who’d rather binge Bridgerton than do cardio, this is great news. Dieters who get at least 30 grams of fiber per day (with no other changes) lose weight almost as much as people on strict diets. That’s because fiber fills you up and the sensation lasts longer. You’ll also block your body from absorbing some calories when you eat a fiber rich meal. Plus, people who eat a fiber-rich diet have an easier time maintaining their weight—they’re typically leaner overall.
- Ditch the juice cleanse for a healthier detox. Juice cleanses are nice if you want to feel hungry and high on sugar at the same time—but if that’s not your jam, fiber will do the trick for you. Soluble fiber not only helps move things along in your gut, but it also soaks up unhealthy fats, excess estrogen, BPA, mercury and pesticides. Now that’s a cleanse!
- Live longer. People who add more fiber to their diets typically live 17 to 19 percent longer than people who don’t. That’s a good reason to get your fill of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and grains.
- Fight heart disease. Your risk of heart disease drops 9 percent for every 7 grams of fiber you eat daily. Pass the avocadoes and chickpeas, please.
- Cut down on your Type 2 diabetes risk. Fiber helps keep your blood sugar levels steady while helping you lose or stay at a healthy weight. That’s why scientists believe that people who eat 26 or more grams of fiber per day lowered their odds of developing Type 2 diabetes by 18 percent.
- Lower your cancer risk. Every 10 grams of fiber you eat reduces your risk of colorectal or breast cancer by 10 and five percent, respectively. Plus, plenty of fiber-rich foods are packed with antioxidants, which have been shown to fight off cancer-causing free radicals.
- Keep moving. How about a health benefit you’ll notice immediately? Fiber keeps you regular—so if you suffer from constipation or other digestive ailments, you’ll appreciate what a big daily dose of fiber does for your gut.
- Better gut bacteria. Speaking of your gut, when you eat a fiber-rich diet, you’ll naturally create a healthier gut biome. Helpful digestive bacteria love fiber, and in turn will help reduce inflammation. Since inflammation has been linked to obesity and just about every other major disease, anything you can do to cut it down is helpful. Within a few days, you’ll start feeling better. The only catch is that you have to keep it up daily to see lasting results.
Try these fiber-rich foods
Getting enough fiber doesn’t have to mean you need to scrape dry grains and leafy greens into your mouth until your stomach bursts. For example, chia seeds have almost ten grams of fiber per ounce, making them one of the best fiber sources on the planet. Make chia pudding and throw in some bananas, pears, strawberries, raspberries or apples for a fiber-rich sweet treat.
Is a salad more your speed? You could add any of the fiber-rich fruits above to a leafy green salad and top it with avocados, carrots, beets, broccoli or artichokes to increase your fiber intake. Or you could take this as a sign to make guacamole regularly, and eat it with a legume-heavy burrito. Black beans, lentils, kidney beans and chickpeas are all great sources of fiber.
Getting enough fiber doesn’t have to be a boring burden—and the health benefits you receive are worth it. It’s time to find out firsthand why the fiber supplement commercial actors are so happy.