Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Rob
The under-consumption of unrefined plant foods in our diet has resulted in a low fiber intake. The standard American diet is highly lacking in fiber. Sadly, one-third of preschoolers have been found to be constipated. Nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day at a minimum are recommended. Fiber causes an increase in stool size, which has been associated with a decreased cancer risk, specifically colon cancer, as well as lower risk of ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, appendicitis, constipation, and diverticulitis.
A plant-based diet high in fiber can flush excess estrogen and cholesterol out of the system. This may help explain why high fiber intake is associated with reduced breast cancer risk. The target minimum fecal output is about half a pound a day. The amount of time it takes food to travel through the body perhaps ideally should be 24-36 hours. And at the same fiber intake, antioxidant rich foods reduce inflammation better than less nutrient-dense foods.
It used to be thought that fiber just passed through us with no effect other than providing bulk. However, it is now known that metabolites are actively produced by our gut bacteria that eat fiber. These compounds may have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-obesity and blood sugar control effects. Fiber has also been found to bind nutrients, so if you juice, you are losing more than just the fiber. Smoothies on the other hand allows for greater absorption of nutrients, although depending on what is in the smoothie, disrupting the fiber may lead to a higher insulin spike.
Fiber intake also has possible benefits for hiatal hernia, brain loss, kidney stones, COPD, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, weight loss, improved immunity, and ultimately increased longevity, possibly because fiber may help mimic some of the benefits of calorie restriction.
Image Credit: Amanda Rae. This image has been modified.
Popular Videos for Fiber
All Videos for Fiber
The Best Diet for Colon Cancer Prevention
What would happen within just two weeks if you swapped the diets of Americans with that of healthier eaters?
Best Foods for Colon Cancer Prevention
A low-fiber diet is a key driver of microbiome depletion, the disappearance of diversity in our good gut flora.
Best Foods for Halitosis & Gingivitis
The best and worst foods for bad breath and gum inflammation.
How to Treat Periodontitis with Diet
Plant-based diets are put to the test in the treatment of periodontal disease.
Benefit of Dates for Colon Health
Seven dates a day for three weeks are put to the test in a randomized controlled trial.
Dietary Cholesterol & Cancer
The relationship between the consumption of eggs and other cholesterol-rich foods and cancers of the colon, breast, endometrium, pancreas, and throat.
Is Fiber an Effective Anti-Inflammatory?
Most Americans get less than half the recommended minimum fiber intake a day and the benefits of fiber go way beyond bowel regularity.
Benefits of Blueberries for Heart Disease
Blueberry tea is put to the test for cholesterol lowering.
Benefits of Ginger for Obesity and Fatty Liver Disease
Ground ginger powder is put to the test for weight loss and NAFLD, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Benefits of a Macrobiotic Diet for Diabetes
What happens when you add massive amounts of carbs to the daily diet of type 2 diabetics in the form of whole grains?
Pros & Cons of a Macrobiotic Diet
What happens when you put diabetics on a diet composed of largely whole grains, vegetables, and beans?
Bean Pastas and Lentil Sprouts
Do the benefits of beans, and lentils, and chickpeas remain when they’re powdered? Also, how to use temperature stress to boost sprout nutrition.