Not everyone understands the need to take fiber supplements. Fiber, on the other hand, can have a significant influence on your overall health. It may even lower your chance of death from any cause, according to some studies.
A study of 1,300 men revealed that with every recent increase of 10 grams of fiber, heart disease death decreased by 17%, while death from any cause decreased by 9%. Although the link diminished with age, fiber was still shown to have a substantial protective impact against mortality across a lifetime.
Similar findings have been seen in other studies including both men and women. Individuals who eat the most fiber had a 37 percent lower risk of mortality from all causes than those who consumed the least. It wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that fiber, in general, appears to preserve your overall health based on these findings.
What is fiber?
Let's take a closer look at fiber and how it might benefit your health.
Soluble and insoluble fibers are the two most common kinds of fiber. Soluble fiber functions as a food supply for bacteria in the large intestine, whereas insoluble fiber acts as a bulking agent with a laxative effect.
Lignin (found in flaxseed and whole grains), cellulose, and some hemicellulose are examples of insoluble fiber. Pectin, gums, inulin, beta-glucans, and resistant starch are examples of soluble fibers.
How Much Fiber Should You Eat?
Fiber intake for people under the age of 50 is recommended to be 25 g for women and 38 g for men. Recommendations for individuals over 50 years old are 30 grams for males and 21 grams for women. These suggestions are based on research-based objectives for reducing the risk of heart disease.
This essential requirement is not met in many nations throughout the world. According to studies conducted in the United States, France, and Brazil, the majority of individuals are deficient in fiber and would benefit from greater fiber consumption.
Health Benefits of Fiber
Gastrointestinal Benefits of Fiber
Majority of people associate fiber with gastrointestinal benefits. Fiber, according to the most recent studies, is beneficial to gastrointestinal health. Higher fiber consumption has been linked to a decreased risk of peptic ulcers, gallbladder disease, hemorrhoids, constipation, and diverticulitis in studies.
While many individuals believe that fiber can help with constipation, the evidence is mixed. Because different fiber types have varying effects, part of the difficulty is likely due to the diversity of fibers that have been studied. Insoluble fiber adds volume to stools and has a more constant laxative effect.
Fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains are common sources of insoluble fiber. While soluble fiber can assist with constipation, it's important to choose the appropriate kind. Stools can be efficiently softened by soluble fibers that produce gels with a high water holding capacity. An example is whole psyllium husk (not powdered). Constipation is unlikely to be helped by soluble fibers that dissolve in water.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a poorly understood digestive disorder. Soluble fiber is generally used in the most basic therapies that can assist. According to a recent assessment of all meta-analyses of fiber as a therapy for irritable bowel syndrome, soluble fiber is helpful in decreasing symptoms.
Psyllium and flaxseed are two soluble fibers that are widely used to treat irritable bowel syndrome. While these fibers can be helpful, certain kinds of soluble fiber may induce an increase in symptoms in a subgroup of individuals with irritable bowel syndrome due to bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. It is always vital for your personal health to be conscious of your response to any treatment, regardless of what the study indicates.
Type 2 Diabetes and Fiber
Some of the same processes that help with heart disease can also help with diabetes. It shouldn't come as a surprise, given that diabetes raises the risk of heart disease, and the two diseases share underlying risk factors.
Fiber inhibits glucose absorption, resulting in a more stable blood sugar level. This can lead to better insulin control in diabetics over time. Lowering blood sugar and insulin levels can help delay the course of the illness, reducing the risk of some of the disease's more serious long-term consequences. In a short study, individuals with diabetes were given a high fiber diet that included 25 grams of soluble and 25 grams of insoluble fiber per day. With the high fiber diet, blood sugar levels were better managed, and cholesterol and triglyceride levels were also improved.
And the benefits aren't limited to diabetic therapy. Increased fiber consumption has also been found to aid in the prevention of the illness. According to studies, every two grams of cereal fiber reduces the incidence of diabetes by 6%. In addition, insoluble and fruit fiber proved to benefit in the majority of the studies. Interestingly, vegetable and soluble fiber were not shown to be helpful for lowering chances of diabetes, but these data could be somewhat misleading as total fiber consumption was still associated with preventive effects.
Weight Loss and Fiber
Unfortunately, there are a lot of bogus claims and weight-loss products on the market. Some types of fiber, on the other hand, appear to provide at least minor health benefits. In the most current meta-analysis on fiber for weight reduction, an average dosage of 16 g of soluble fiber per day for ten weeks resulted in a 5.5-pound weight loss. However, the authors advise care in interpreting the findings because there were significant differences across the published research.
Konjac roots contain glucomannan, a soluble fiber. It expands in the digestive tract, giving you a feeling of fullness and perhaps helping you eat less. Overall, the evidence supporting glucomannan's weight-loss benefits is equivocal. Higher dosages of a particular glucomannan product, PGX, may, however, provide more consistent weight loss effects.
More research is needed to properly assess glucomannan. There are also some potential gastrointestinal adverse effects with this product. Keep in mind that, like other fiber supplements, glucomannan must be taken with lots of water to be safe.
Heart Disease and Fiber
Fiber has a protective impact on your heart, which may come as a surprise at first. However, you've definitely seen food labels advertising fiber's heart-health benefits. The evidence is still solid enough that the FDA authorizes health claims on foods containing beta-glucans (a kind of fiber found in oats) or psyllium fiber. Fiber has been proven in studies to have a number of beneficial benefits on heart health, including:
Keeping cholesterol levels in check
Keeping blood pressure in check
Possibility of decreasing inflammation
Fiber can lower cholesterol levels by adhering to it and transporting it out of the body. It's unclear how fiber can aid with blood pressure. Psyllium appears to be the most effective at lowering blood pressure, however the effects are moderate, with a 2.4 point drop in systolic blood pressure with psyllium supplementation.
In addition, soluble fiber aids in the growth of good microorganisms in the gastrointestinal system. It provides nourishment for beneficial microorganisms. These bacteria appear to help decrease inflammation by producing anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acids from fiber. Fiber also aids with blood sugar regulation. Fiber helps to decrease your overall risk by controlling high blood sugar, which is related to increased inflammation.
Fiber is useful for more than just relieving constipation. Fiber has the potential to help avoid a wide range of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and gastrointestinal problems. Fiber appears to protect against "all-cause mortality," meaning it lowers your chances of dying from any cause.
If you know you don't get enough fiber in your diet, taking a fiber supplement may be a good approach to ensure you get all of the benefits.