It’s no secret fiber keeps your digestive system working well. Most people also know that it helps slow digestion of meals so it’s great for weight loss, reduces cancer risk and also sweeps toxins out of your body, all of which add up to reducing the risk of disease overall. I talked a bit about those benefits here.
But here’s a rather surprising benefit I was unaware of until now: higher fiber intake can improve lung function! According to findings published recently in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society:
68% of those who had the highest fiber consumption (about 18 grams or more daily) had normal lung function compared to 50% for those with the lowest fiber intake:
Only 15% of those who ate a lot of fiber had airway restriction, but 30% of those with the lowest fiber intake did; and
People with the highest fiber consumption also did better on two important breathing tests indicating they had larger lung capacity and could exhale more air in one second.
While the study is not conclusive and eating more fiber won’t help if you also smoke, for example, it could be a fairly easy way to help yourself without any negative side effects.
So how can you increase your fiber intake? Well while grains do contain fiber, the best sources are vegetables and fruits. They provide both soluble and insoluble fiber. Simply put, soluble fiber is the kind that becomes a gel in your gut helping to slow down your digestion, which helps you to feel full longer, and can help with weight control among other things. Good sources are cucumbers, beans, blueberries and nuts.
Insoluble fiber is not digested at all and acts as a broom sweeping food and toxins out of your body. This is the fiber that helps keep you regular. Good sources are dark green leafy vegetables, green beans, celery and carrots.
Many vegetables and fruits contain both soluble and insoluble such as almonds, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and seeds like hemp, chia and flax. So bottom line is fiber is a critical component of a truly healthy diet.
My question to you is: Are you including sources of fiber in your diet daily?
Simple is best! Baby steps are the most powerful way to make truly impactful changes. Here are 125 of my best ones!
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Ann, since many people believe gut health is related to whole body health, this makes sense. Thanks for connecting the dots. I hadn’t thought about the connection before.
Absolutely Debbie – you nailed it – gut health is central to overall health – I had never thought specifically about lung health before either.