The Healthy Habit of Increasing Fiber

Fiber is an important part of one's overall health, including the fight against cancer and other serious diseases. One study revealed that people suffering from colon cancer who added fiber to their diet likely have a lower risk of death than those who do not eat a lot of fiber.

Eating enough fiber is so crucial that consuming more fiber after getting a cancer diagnosis can positively impact a patients? prognosis, regardless of how much fiber they ate before their diagnosis.

One study used the data of over 1,500 adults with colon cancer to find out how much fiber they typically ate, then followed half of the participants for eight years. Of that half, 733 of them died, 174 of which were due to their cancer.

The study showed that for each additional 5 grams of fiber a patient ate per day, their chances of succumbing to cancer decreased by 22%. Additionally, those patients had a 14% decreased risk of dying overall compared to those who ate the least amount of fiber.

When someone gets diagnosed with colon cancer and adds dietary fiber to their diet, their survival rate increases. However, it is important to note that the fiber is specifically dietary. Researchers say that certain grains, such as those from cereal, to be one of the most effective ways to increase one's fiber intake. However, grains raise insulin and leptin levels, which promotes the inflammation of chronic diseases. Some healthier forms of fiber are foods such as produce, berries, flax, psyllium seed husk, and chia seeds.

Biggest Risk Factors to Disease

Family history plays a big role in one's chances of getting colon cancer, as is a personal history of cancer, a failure to get screened, and gastrointestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis. Lifestyle can also influence one's risk.

The intestinal flora of cancer patients also plays a big role in whether or not they are able to be treated with immunotherapy. Some people have thought that specific bacteria had to be present for gut health to be positive, however, it is more likely that the diversity of the flora is the important part.

This is important because diets that are low in fiber have little microbial diversity. So consuming a fiber-rich diet will improve the microbial diversity in the gut and allow a patient to have better responses during immunotherapy cancer treatment.

Fiber Should Be a Priority

People don't usually think about how much fiber they need to eat throughout the day. Often, people are focused more on protein and fats. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that people need to consume 25 grams of fiber each day. Most people don?t even come close to eating this amount. This may require an entire diet transformation for some people.

Fiber helps to move foods along that are stuck in your large intestine and help things pass properly. It also allows the body to distribute nutrients. Additionally, it?s actually your body?s inability to digest some kinds of fiber that makes it important to your digestive process. Soluble fiber, the kind in blueberries and flaxseeds, soaks up water like a sponge and helps foods dissolve into a gel-like texture, slowing down your digestion.

You want your digestion to be slow so you will full longer, allowing you to eat less. Insoluble fiber is found in celery, carrots, and dark green leafy vegetables.

Many whole foods like fruits and vegetables have both soluble and insoluble fiber. Both types of fiber are good for you and have positive impacts on long-term health.

A plant-based diet may result in a wider variety of microbiomes in the gut. Studies have found that the gut microbiome directly affects overall health. One study listed health conditions that can occur with a compromised microbiome. Some of these include:

  • Clostridium difficile infection
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Allergies
  • Obesity
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Neuropsychiatric illnesses

It is jarring to realize that your gut bacteria and your diet can have an impact on your mental health. In addition to your diet, other factors come into play such as the chemicals and pollution that you come into contact with. However, your diet is something that you can easily control that has a large impact on your overall health.

Some healthy foods that are rich in fiber include:

  • Acorn squash
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Broccoli
  • Psyllium husk
  • Raspberries
  • Fresh pears
  • Dried figs
  • Almonds
  • Avocados
  • Prunes
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts

Remember, it is still important to consider all food factors when eating, such as the high amount of natural sugars in fruit and whether or not a fruit or vegetable is organic.

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