Successful weight loss has a lot to do with what you put on your plate—especially if that plate includes plenty of fiber.‡ On top of countless other benefits including heart health and improved digestion and regularity, fiber has been shown to support weight management when included as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.‡
In a recent study conducted by the University of Calgary, researchers found that when obese mice supplemented their daily diet with a prebiotic fiber source, they were more successful at losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight than those who were not fed fiber. What’s more, the gut bacteria of the fiber mice changed over time to resemble the gut bacteria of leaner mice, indicating the fiber source had a positive effect on gut bacteria.
Just How Does Fiber Help with Weight Loss?‡
Numerous studies have shown that fiber has unique appetite-suppressing properties.‡ It expands in the stomach, taking up more space and helping you feel full.‡ It also slows the digestive process to help you stay satisfied after meals, and it triggers the release of a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK), which tells the brain the stomach is full.‡ Foods high in fiber also help to “flush” unused calories from the body, essentially blocking their absorption and eliminating them via healthy bowel movements.‡
Are You Getting Your 35 Grams a Day?
Leading experts recommend consuming up to 35 grams of fiber every day, and eating more non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits is one of the best ways to increase your daily fiber intake. If you still find it a challenge to get 35 grams a day, fiber supplements may help. Look for a high-quality supplement that:
- contains a balanced ratio of both soluble and insoluble fiber;
- is made with natural and organically grown ingredients;
- includes lignan-rich flax fiber, soluble acacia fiber, or natural chia seed; and
- is psyllium-free to prevent cramping, gas and/or bloating.
Irritable bowel syndrome affects millions of Americans every day, and April is a time to take action. All month long healthcare providers and communities nationwide will be working together to help raise awareness about IBS, how it is diagnosed, and how to improve the quality of life for those suffering from the condition.
While the cause of IBS is still largely unknown, symptoms often include some combination of abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and diarrhea and/or constipation. If you or someone you know is living with IBS, here are 10 tips for improving bowel health:
- Add More Fiber. Fiber supports healthy digestive function by helping to absorb and eliminate toxins in the colon that may aggravate IBS symptoms.‡
- Limit Fried and Fatty Foods. Fried foods and certain fatty meats may contribute to IBS. Be sure to consume these types of foods in moderation.
- Cut Back on Caffeine. Highly caffeinated foods and beverages (such as coffee, tea, soda and chocolate) have been shown to worsen IBS symptoms.
- Avoid Foods High in Sulfur. Some foods that are healthy—including veggies such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, and broccoli—are high in sulfur and may actually trigger IBS symptoms. Opt for low-sulfur veggies instead.
- Don’t Rule Out Food Sensitivity. IBS symptoms may stem from an underlying food sensitivity; the two most common are gluten and dairy. A gluten-free diet, dairy-free diet (or both) may help improve IBS symptoms in some people.
- Be Kind to Your Digestive Tract. Many herbs and natural ingredients such as marshmallow root, slippery elm, and the amino acid L-glutamine have been found to help nourish and soothe the intestinal tract and bowel.‡
- Promote Balance with Probiotics. Eating more probiotic foods helps maintain a balanced internal environment and supports optimal digestion and bowel health.‡
- Drink Plenty of Water. Drinking plenty of water (at least half your body weight in ounces every day) helps flush out toxins and other harmful microbes that may be causing IBS symptoms.
- Consider Colon Hydrotherapy. IBS sufferers—especially those with severe symptoms—may find that natural colon hydrotherapy helps cleanse the system and improve digestive health and elimination.
- Stay Informed with the IBS Information App. The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) provides a mobile app to help people learn more about IBS. IBS Info is available for use on iOS and Android platforms.