How Fiber Affects Gut Health, Weight Loss, and a Lot More

A high fiber diet probably isn’t something you’d expect to see go viral in the wellness space. It just isn’t as sexy as other nutrients when it comes to performance, weight loss, and physique. 

However, fiber is one of the most impactful nutrients for all of these things. Your fiber intake affects several aspects of your health that ultimately change how you look, feel, and perform. 

If you’ve never looked into how much fiber you really need and if a supplement could benefit you, here are some reasons you might want to.

You're probably not eating enough fiber

No, we’re not judging you. The truth is, most of the United States doesn’t eat enough fiber. Recent surveys suggest that at little as 5 percent of the country actually meets their daily fiber needs on a regular basis.  

In fact, fiber has been noted as a “nutrient of concern” since 2005. 

Why? Food processing. The American diet is heavy on refined grains, which are stripped of fiber and other nutrients. This includes foods like white bread, pasta, crackers, and chips.

Certain diets, like a gluten-free diet, also tend to be low in fiber. 

Americans are also notorious for not getting their veggies, which is another major source of fiber in the diet. A recent NHANES survey found that just 1 in 10 American adults meet vegetable recommendations set by the USDA, with the majority of those surveyed eating 0-1 vegetable servings per day.

How much fiber should I eat?

The first step to getting enough fiber is actually knowing how much you need. According to the USDA, adults need between 14 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories eaten per day.

So for example, if you eat 2000 calories per day, you would need 28 grams of fiber to meet the adequate intake recommendation.

So for example, if you eat 2000 calories per day, you would need 28 grams of fiber to meet the adequate intake recommendation.

There are two types of fiber

The recommendation for how much fiber you need refers to “total fiber,” or just any kind of fiber you eat. However, we should mention that not all fiber is created equal. 

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. 

Soluble fiber is found in legumes, oats, nuts, seeds, and some fruits and vegetables. It turns into a gel during digestion and is important for heart health. 

Insoluble fiber actually does not digest. It’s important for adding bulk as it passes through the intestines, which is good for gut health. Find insoluble fiber in whole grains and veggies.

The first goal should be to increase fiber from any source. Then, go for more variety to see the most benefits.  

What happens if I don't eat enough fiber

Tummy troubles are one of the most obvious signs that you might not be eating enough fiber. Fiber keeps you regular, strengthens the intestinal wall, and supports healthy gut bacteria. Constipation, diarrhea, and bloating are all consequences of a low fiber diet.

There are also long-term effects of not eating enough fiber. First, a low fiber diet is linked to chronic inflammation. A diet that lacks fiber may also lead to weight gain, or make it more difficult to lose weight.

Chronic inflammation and/or being overweight increase the risk for chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. 

Finally, fiber is important for your immune system. It feeds healthy bacteria in the gut, which play a role in keeping the immune system in tip-top shape. 

If you’re not eating enough fiber-rich foods, you might be more susceptible to illness or it might be harder for you to fight infections. 

How can fiber improve my health?

Just as eating enough fiber can negatively impact your health, eating more fiber can improve your health in amazing ways. 

Eating more fiber is one of the most impactful ways to support gut health. Fiber feeds healthy bacteria in the gut so they can thrive and multiply. As the number of healthy bacteria in your gut grows, your digestion improves and the intestinal wall is better protected.

The benefits of gut health go way beyond the digestive system. Better protection of the intestinal wall actually impacts the health of several systems in the body. 

First, your immune system. Around 75% of the microorganisms that make up your immune system live within the gut. If there aren’t enough “good” bacteria protecting the intestinal wall, your immune protection will suffer.

Next, your cardiovascular system. A high fiber diet decreases chronic inflammation and therefore decreases the risk for heart disease. Fiber is also known to lower blood pressure and harmful LDL cholesterol.

By decreasing chronic inflammation, fiber also protects you from chronic disease like diabetes and cancer.

Can fiber help me lose weight?

Fiber is a major tool for weight loss. High-fiber foods are typically low-calorie and very filling, which make you feel fuller sooner. Fiber can also slow down digestion, which helps you feel satisfied between meals.

Remember when we mentioned that gut health impacts several systems of the body? Your metabolism is one of them. The bacteria in your gut digest fiber and release chemicals that could help with weight loss.

Bacteria in your gut may also influence how your body absorbs certain nutrients and stores fat. 

How to eat more fiber?

The easiest way to add more fiber to your diet is to add more whole grains (and get rid of the refined stuff), and to fill your plate with vegetables, legumes, and fruit. Here are some of the more fiber-rich foods:

  • Legumes (beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, edamame, etc.) - 10+ grams per cup
  • Avocado - 10 grams per cup
  • Chia seeds - 10 grams per ounce
  • Other seeds
  • Oats - 8 grams per ½ cup dry
  • Raspberries - 8 grams per cup 
  • Quinoa - 5 grams per cup, cooked
  • Carrots - 4 grams per cup
  • Brussels sprouts - 3 grams per cup
  • Pears - 5 grams per cup
  • Nuts - 3 grams per ounce

Even if you’re eating a healthy diet, sometimes it’s hard to hit your fiber goals every day. A fiber supplement like Naked Fiber is a convenient option to fill in the gaps. Just mix a scoop into water or your favorite drink to easily boost your day with 5 grams of fiber.

Final Thoughts

Eating more fiber is a change that pretty much everyone can benefit from. The majority of Americans aren’t eating enough thanks to a diet high in refined grains and low in fruits and vegetables.

Eating more fiber can help with weight loss, improve digestion, and decrease risk for disease. 

To increase fiber in your diet, eat more whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Consider a fiber supplement like Naked Fiber if you need a convenient way to boost fiber in your diet.