We’ve all heard somewhere along the line that we have to eat more fiber, but how important is it really? Turns out, it might be one of the single most important nutrients for keeping many known diseases at bay. One Doctor, Denis Burkitt, came to this discovery in the 60s by studying the fiber-rich diet of Ugandans.
In his epidemiological studies, he stated this:
“In Africa, treating people who live largely off the land on vegetables they grow, I hardly ever saw cases of many of the most common diseases in the United States and England—including coronary heart disease, adult-onset diabetes, varicose veins, obesity, diverticulitis, appendicitis, gallstones, dental cavities, hemorrhoids, hiatal hernias and constipation. Western diets are so low on bulk and so dense in calories, that our intestines just don’t pass enough volume to remain healthy.” (1)
So, with this discovery, Burkitt took the widely accepted approach that the simple act of eating more fiber would fend off many of these diseases as it did for the Ugandans.
See below the benefits of fiber that Dr. Burkitt helped discover and a few tips on how you can start eating more of it.
Fiber in the diet offers vast health benefits:
● Supports gut health and boosts the immune system by nourishing good gut bacteria.
● Helps manage body weight by keeping us full for longer and reducing overeating.
● Balances cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of heart disease.
● Promotes regular bowel movements and prevents constipation and hemorrhoids.
● Stabilizes blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
● Reduces the risk of colon and breast cancer.
● Helps prevent or manage diabetes by improving blood sugar control.
● Promotes proper digestion and nutrient absorption through chewing high-fiber foods.
How to Incorporate More Fiber Into Your Diet
As we can see, the benefits of fiber are just about second to none. Now that we’ve seen all the ways that fiber helps our bodies function on a more optimum level, how can we start eating more of it?
Here are a few simple tips that are easy to start implementing:
● Emphasize fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are the main sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
● Choose whole grains: Opt for whole grain bread, pasta, and cereals instead of their refined counterparts, as they contain more fiber.
● Snack on nuts and seeds: Almonds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are all great sources of fiber and healthy fats. Add them to your yogurt, smoothies, or salads for an extra boost.
● Gradually increase fiber intake: Start by adding one high-fiber component to each meal, such as a side of steamed broccoli or a handful of berries.
Despite the extensive research conducted on the numerous benefits of fiber, it has unfortunately become one of those nutrients that often goes overlooked. However, once you discover the incredible advantages it offers, it becomes impossible to ignore. So, find out for yourself, and start increasing your fiber intake little by little and reap the amazing health benefits of this nutrient! Your body will truly thank you.
(1). Coffin CS, Shaffer EA. The hot air and cold facts of dietary fibre. Can J Gastroenterol. 2006 Apr;20(4):255-6. doi: 10.1155/2006/390953. PMID: 16609752; PMCID: PMC2659900.