Studies show that Americans are critically deprived of fiber and nearly everyone could benefit from more of it in their diet. So, what is fiber? Fiber is referred to as “roughage” and is consumed in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains. It serves your digestive tract but doesn’t have any caloric content and cannot be digested. Included here are a few reasons why you need this essential element of your diet.

Digestive Health

Fiber is not actually digestible by the body, nor does it provide any significant caloric impact. Its main function is to clear out the digestive system and move food along. It promotes natural digestive regularity without being absorbed by the intestines. Having a regular digestive tract is extremely important to the body’s overall health and fiber is a huge promoter of digestive health.

Fiber serves to reduce the risk of digestive disorders and chronic problems like diverticulitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The movement of the digestive tract with fiber has also been proven to reduce instances of stomach cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Reduced Risk of Disease

Some sources claim that consuming 25-30 grams of fiber per day as an adult can help reduce the risk of many diseases. Many whole grains offer the antioxidants and phytochemicals which fight disease. Consuming fiber after a high carbohydrate meal can help to decrease blood sugar spikes in diabetics. It can also prevent heart disease and diverticular disease.

Weight Loss

Fiber is beneficial in many ways when it comes to preventing weight gain. Fiber is something that fills you up but does not provide any calories and is not fattening. Like protein, fiber allows you to feel full longer, by absorbing water, and stave off increased hunger pangs. It also keeps insulin levels stable which leads to fewer blood sugar spikes.

One of the main causes of obesity in the modern world is an overconsumption of sugar. Too often sugar is consumed through candy, processed foods or empty beverages. The sugar is processed too quickly and contributes to excess fat on the body.

Most sugar found in nature is in the form of fruits and vegetables which offer large amounts of fiber. Fiber slows the body’s digestion of sugar which allows your body time to process the sugar without stowing it into excess fat reserves.

Feeds Good Intestinal Bacteria

The human body is made up of huge amounts of bacteria; they live on your skin, your mouth and in your gut. The bacteria living in your large intestine offer the breakdown of food for your body. Because most fats, sugars and proteins are absorbed too quickly, there is little food left to feed these valuable gut flora.

Humans are not capable of digesting dietary fiber, so it reaches the gut flora undigested. Thankfully, the bacteria in your intestine are capable of digesting the fiber, so they receive some benefits from it and increase good bacteria levels and probiotics in the intestines.