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Fiber supplements have been found to provide a host of benefits, especially when incorporated into diets high in sugar and easily digestible carbohydrates which convert readily to glucose (the molecule that you body converts sugar into to use for energy).
It is unclear if fiber promotes health directly, or whether it does so indirectly by mitigating the effects of harmful substances in the body.
Regardless of the underlying processes, however, it is clear that fiber is an important aspect of health and maintenance of a healthy body weight.
Health Benefits of Fiber
Independent of weight loss, fiber has been found to be associated with the following health benefits:
- Found to reduce the risk of colon cancer
- Helps to maintain good intestinal mobility
- May reduce the risks of heart disease
- May assist in lowering cholesterol
- Helps maintain the health of the digestive tract, potentially preventing diverticulosis
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Fiber for Weight Loss
Fiber is thought to assist in weight loss through several different mechanisms:
- Fiber provides bulk in the diet, which increases satiety (the feeling of fullness)
- Processing of some fibers delays the emptying of the stomach, furthering extending the time that a person feels full
- Fiber regulates the body’s absorption of glucose, potentially reducing the body’s insulin response and therefore development of insulin resistance
Fiber influences digestion but isn’t absorbed as a nutrient the like other parts of the food are.
It therefore can take up room in the stomach, leading to a feeling of fullness with fewer calories taken in, and some fibers can delay the emptying of the stomach so that you stay full longer.
Perhaps more importantly, fiber regulates the rate at which glucose is absorbed, reducing the likelihood of developing insulin resistance.
The hormone insulin regulates fat storage, and the development of insulin resistance often comes with a decreased ability to mobilize fat tissue.
Fiber can help mitigate this.
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Taking Fiber Supplements for Weight Loss
When considering taking fiber supplements, it’s important to note (as mentioned in the beginning of this article) that it is still unclear whether fiber itself contains benefits.
It is more likely that fiber simply interferes with the detrimental effects of other unhealthy substances.
Either way, fiber is most likely important, but it’s still unclear whether fiber supplements are as effective as the naturally-occurring fiber in complex foods.
If you have difficulty adjusting your diet to incorporate healthier foods, taking a fiber supplement for weight loss might be a good bet.
Try one and see how you feel and note how it effects your weight.