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The benefits of a high fiber diet
In this day and age, 98% of Europeans do not consume enough fiber.
ANSES recommends that we consume 25g of fiber per day; on average we consume just 19. The consumption of fiber decreased sharply in the early 20th century due to an increase in the refining of food products.
So, what is fiber and what is its purpose?
What is fiber?
Dietary fiber is a carbohydrate that is not digested by the digestive enzymes in our intestines (stomach and small intestine).
Fiber is a satietogenic nutrient because it provides a long-lasting feeling of satiety.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber has the particularity of dissolving in water.
When in contact with water, the fiber will form a viscous gel. This will slow down the arrival of the bolus (meal) in your intestines. This causes the absorption of these carbohydrates to be slowed down, which therefore limits the rise in glycemic levels (blood glucose) after your meal.
Conversely, insoluble fiber can absorb up to 25 times its weight in water.
It acts like a small sponge in the intestine. By absorbing the water, it increases the volume of the bolus (mixture obtained after chewing). This produces a mechanical pressure on the walls of the digestive tract of the stomach.
It is this distension of the stomach that promotes satiety by reproducing the effect of a complete meal.
Furthermore, insoluble fiber helps regulate intestinal transit.
The role of fiber
The main role of fiber is to regulate the transit, however it also intervenes in the bioavailability of nutrients, meaning its capacity to be absorbed by the intestine.
When we say that a molecule (vitamins, minerals or other) has a good availability, it means that it is easily absorbed by the body.
However, the consumption of fiber decreases the bioavailability of the nutrients you consume.
Indeed, the gel formed by soluble fiber, which lines the intestinal walls complicates the amalgamation of nutrients with the intestinal wall and the digestive enzymes.
Similarly, the transit acceleration caused by insoluble fiber decreases the contact time between the nutrients and the digestive enzymes and thus slows down their absorption.
So, what does this mean for the different nutrients?
Protein: Their absorption is diminished.
Lipids: Fiber decreases the absorption rate of cholesterol and triglycerides. Therefore, it is hypocholesterolemic and hypoglyceridemic, that is to say, it reduces the amount of lipids and cholesterol in the blood.
Carbohydrates: By slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates, fiber reduces the glycemic response that follows your meal and thus avoids the excessive insulin peaks that can tire the pancreas. This overall reduction of the glycemic index of your meal will also enable the feeling of satiety to be prolonged by spreading the absorption of carbohydrates over several hours.
As a result, consuming a diet rich in fiber can ultimately lead to you lowering your overall food intake and eventually lead to weight loss.
Your daily fiber needs
The current average consumption of dietary fiber in Europe is much lower than what is recommended by various health bodies.
According to the NutriNet Santé study, the average European male consumes 20g of fiber per day compared to 18g for women. ANSES recommends a daily consumption of 25-30g of fiber, of which at least half must be soluble.
Fiber responds when in contact with water, therefore to get the most out of the fiber you are consuming, it is important that both are consumed in the relevant quantities.
Where is it found?
It is mainly found in cereals and cereal products, dried fruits and vegetables, fresh fruits and vegetables, oilseeds (avocado, coconut, olives) and oilseeds (almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, sesame seeds), and in starchy fruits (chestnuts).
With an average of 11g of fiber per serving, Feed. meals provide a daily supply of soluble and insoluble fiber which in turn helps contribute to a feeling of long-lasting satiety.
The main sources of fiber in Feed. meals are gluten-free oatmeal, pea protein, acacia and corn fiber.
Easy tips to increase your fiber intake
Few are able to reach the recommended minimum threshold of 25g of fiber per day. So here are some tips to increase your dietary fiber intake.
Opt for whole grains
Whole grains contain more fiber than “simple” cereals.
Therefore, increase your consumption whole-grain pasta, whole-grain rice, whole-wheat, oats or buckwheat.
For example, a bowl of oats combined with almond milk and fresh fruit is an excellent breakfast that is also rich in fiber!
Add fiber to your salads or yogurts
Nothing is easier than adding linseed or chia seeds in your salads or yogurts to enrich the fiber content of your meals. It has an added advantage too, as it increases your omega 3 consumption!
Have raw vegetables and fresh fruits
All fruits contain fiber. Their peel is also extremely rich in fiber so do not hesitate in eating your fruits and vegetables without peeling!
Try and increase your consumption of raw fruits and vegetables. Once cooked, they lose up to half of their fiber content.
Fiber and cancer prevention
A decrease in the amount of time nutrients make contact with the intestine ultimately leads to their lack of absorption by the body. In the digestive tract, fiber expands and traps some of the toxic molecules and enables their excretion through stools. This depurative activity reduces the risk of digestive cancers such as colon cancer.