By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
November 08, 2013
- The skinny on fiber
- Simple trick to make you skinnier and healthier
- Quality, quantity and diversity make all the difference
Do you think you’re getting enough fiber if you eat your whole grain cereal each morning? What if you drink a glass of Metamucil every day? Is that enough?
Well, it’s probably not… or at least, not enough of the right kind of fiber.
A lot of it has to do with the way we eat here in the U.S.
Our diets are typically low in fiber and high in things like animal protein, sugar and fat.
So we counteract that by listening to mainstream media and purchasing cereals, breads and other processed foods that claim to be high in fiber.
And that keeps us “regular.” But fiber can do a whole lot more for you.
You see, there are two types of dietary fiber. And both are important to good health.
The one everyone is racing to get enough of is “insoluble” fiber. This type of fiber acts as a bulking agent. It tends to move things along so waste passes more quickly from the intestines. It keeps you “regular”.
The other type is called “soluble” fiber. Soluble fiber helps vital nutrient absorption by slowing digestion. It stays in your stomach longer and makes you feel full. It helps control your weight and keep your stomach bacterium in check.
Keeping proper stomach bacteria can assist in weight loss. And that’s good right?
So, let’s look at soluble fiber and see how just a few simple changes can give you a longer, healthier and maybe even skinnier life.
Certain types of fiber go through a fermentation process in your gut. And this can help the “good” bacteria in your digestive system to flourish. But when you don’t get enough healthy fiber, it can throw the entire process out of whack, leading to a whole host of health problems.
If you don’t have enough bacterial richness in your gut it increases your risk of heart disease, inflammation, stroke, type 2 diabetes and colon cancer.
It’s unfortunate, but about a good percentage of us don’t have a rich and diverse assortment of “good” gut bacteria.
Danish researchers have also found people with fewer good bacteria are more prone to obesity. Worse, they’re likely to continue packing on the pounds as the years go by.
This is particularly disturbing because obesity is a key factor in all of the diseases I just mentioned.
But there is some good news here.
When obese people changed their diets to one that was low in fat and calories, but high in protein and the right kind of fiber (from vegetables and fruits) they were able to increase balance of “good” bacteria in their guts.
And guess what happened next?
In just 6 weeks, they were able to decrease fat mass and increase their metabolism. They also had improvements in insulin sensitivity and inflammation.
This is an amazing turn around that could play a very large role in your efforts to lose weight – even prevent weight gain to start with. Not to mention all of the other healthy implications.
And it doesn’t take much time at all. Let me show you just how easy it is…
The type of fiber you eat is very important. You need quality, quantity and variety, so you want to focus mix things up.
Choose a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.
- Eat apples and walnuts together as a snack.
- Try a good lentil soup on a cool day.
- Sautee some asparagus in olive oil and throw in some pine nuts and garlic or toss some pistachios in with your Brussels spouts.
- Throw some almonds in with fruits or vegetables for a crunchy “fiber-filled” side dish.
This “variety” can provide you with a wide variety of soluble and insoluble fibers… making sure you get enough of the fermentable fibers that feed your “good” gut bacteria.
And that “good” bacterium just might help you get skinny.
To give you a quick run down…
- Soluble fibers are the ones that keep you feeling fuller, longer. These include oat products, beans, peas, lentils and other legumes. Beta-glucans, gums, mucilages, some pectins, and some hemicelluloses are soluble fibers.
- Insoluble fibers add bulk to the stool to help waste pass more quickly from the intestines. Cellulose, lignin, some pectins, and some hemicelluloses are insoluble fibers.
- Fruits, vegetables, oats and barley are all rich in fermentable fibers. These are the ones that feed your gut bacteria, so you want to make sure to get plenty of them in your diet. Pectins, beta-glucans, guar gum, inulin, and oligofructose are readily fermented.
- Most cereal fibers – like wheat bran – are resistant to fermentation and are best to avoid.
To get the biggest benefit, I recommend getting at least 30 grams of fiber every day from varied sources.
Le Chatelier, E. et al. Richness of human gut microbiome correlates with metabolic markers. Nature 500, 541–546 (2013).
Cotillard A, et al. Dietary intervention impact on gut microbial gene richness. Nature. 2013 Aug 29;500(7464):585-8