It seems like carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap lately. Many diets, like Keto and Atkins, restrict carbs. Others eliminate specific types, for example the Paleo diet, which prohibits grains and legumes. But with the emphasis on cutting carbs, we may be forgetting about one of the body’s best friends: fiber.
Fiber is a key component to a healthy diet. Its health benefits are so significant that people who eat more fiber tend to live longer.1 Fiber is found in plant food, and by cutting down on grains and legumes (as well as certain vegetables and fruit, like low-carb diets recommend), most people end up eating less fiber. Many experts say fiber supplements cannot compete with eating whole foods when it comes to nutritional benefits. 2
We are supposed to eat about 25 to 29 grams of fiber a day,3 but only 5 percent of Americans do that.4 The lack of fiber in our diet is such a concern that nutritionists have a name for it: the fiber gap. But why is fiber so important and what happens if we don’t get enough of it?
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It slows down your digestion and helps regulate your blood sugar. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It passes through the body without breaking down or providing any calories. It prevents constipation and promotes colon health. Both types of fiber help you feel full.
It is not exactly clear why fiber can help you live longer, but fiber has many benefits that may explain the link.
While some benefits are specific to soluble or insoluble fiber, both types of fiber might help prevent certain diseases and health conditions. Research has shown that eating more fiber might reduce the risk of heart disease, different types of cancer, diabetes, kidney stones and severe strokes. A recent study also found that a diet high in fruit, vegetables and grain, but low in fat, decreases the risk of breast cancer.5 6 Fiber can reduce LDL cholesterol levels, increase good bacteria in the gut and reduce inflammation in the body.
To add more fiber to your diet, eat more whole grains, vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts and seeds. You also can supplement your diet with Karuna’s Whole Plant Wellness drinks. The fiber in these comes directly from natural ingredients and includes prebiotic fiber, which can help promote good bacteria in the large intestine.