11 Fiber Benefits You May Not Know About

Written by Krista Bugden
Medically Reviewed by Felicia Newell, M.S., RDN

December 7, 2023

When you hear the word “fiber,” a few things probably come to mind: Beans. Benefiber drinks. And maybe the most famous of all: More trips to the bathroom. Words that may not come to mind: nature’s scrub brush, more energy, and a better mood.

In this article, we’ll dive into 11 of fiber’s most popular (and lesser-known) benefits. Let’s dive in.

1. It’s Dubbed “Nature’s Scrub Brush”

We all know fiber helps increase feelings of fullness; this is largely why it’s hailed as a must-have nutrient in any weight loss diet. With feelings of satiation, we’re simply less likely to eat more, especially in the hours after a fiber-filled meal.

But here’s something you might not know: Fiber is often considered “nature’s scrub brush.” 

The benefits of insoluble fiber include reducing constipation and promoting regular bowel movements (1). 

In other words, we can think about insoluble fiber like a scrub brush coming along and binding to entities that hinder digestion. In turn, this pulls unwanted components out of the gut, ensuring everything functions smoothly (and nothing gets trapped in the gut!).

So, if you’re feeling kind of “heavy,” “weighed down,” or you haven’t been able to go to the bathroom lately, a bit more insoluble fiber—like broccoli, leafy greens, or our brand new fiber drink mix—might just do the trick.

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2. It’s Protective Against Various Chronic Diseases

There are two types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Let’s take a look at the former…

When you eat foods with soluble fiber (like oranges, carrots, and chia seeds), the fiber undergoes a complete transformation in the gut. This transformation produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate, propionate, and acetate. These fatty acids are like the guardians of your gut lining, keeping it strong and impenetrable. This reduces the likelihood of harmful substances entering your bloodstream, a condition commonly referred to as “leaky gut” (2).

By preventing this leakage, fiber helps reduce systemic inflammation, which can lead to various health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis (3, 4).

But it doesn’t stop here…these SCFAs also play a crucial role in regulating the immune system, a network of cells, tissues, and organs that’s responsible for inflammatory responses. If you think of SCFAs as musical conductors, they orchestrate a harmonious symphony between various immune cells (neutrophils, macrophages, natural killer cells), influencing their behaviors and actions (5). Because of this, inflammation can be kept at bay and only ignited when absolutely necessary.

Michelle Routhenstein, MS, RD, CDE, CDN, and Heart Health Dietitian at Entirely Nourished, sums it all up, saying, “Fiber plays an important role in helping prevent complications of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. It improves the gut microbiome, which has been linked with benefits for both the brain and heart. Some fiber is fermentable in the gut, which leads to the production of metabolites like butyrate. Butyrate is associated with reduced inflammation and may help support healthier blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood vessel health.”

3. It May Help Your Breath Smell Better

Okay, this might sound far-fetched, but hear me out. We know fiber aids in promoting a healthy gut and good digestion. Surprisingly, this can indirectly contribute to fresher breath. How? Well, fiber can help reduce digestive issues associated with bad breath.

Bad breath, also called halitosis, has various causes. Yet, it often happens when gaseous compounds, such as volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), are produced by bacteria, such as those residing in the gut (6, 7).

By feeding our gut all the good stuff, like fiber, and balancing the gut microbiome, we can reduce bad breath or prevent it altogether. If you struggle with this, it’s worth a shot, so try adding more fiber-rich foods to your diet and banish that bad breath away.

4. It’s Vital for Proper Hormone Balance

Remember how fiber acts like a scrub brush? Well, this plays a significant role in helping clear out excess toxins and hormones. And there’s some concrete evidence behind this.

A 2009 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explored the effect of a high-fiber diet on hormonal concentrations. Researchers determined that this type of diet did significantly reduce hormonal concentrations, contributing to better reproductive health (8).

So, what does this mean exactly?

As women, if we aren’t properly detoxifying estrogen, our bodies can reabsorb it, and this can lead to estrogen dominance, where the estrogen-progesterone ratio is off. In turn, we can experience various symptoms, such as dysregulations in our monthly cycles and even PMS.

Since fiber helps scrub out the intestines and increases the frequency of bowel movements, it can also help clear these excess hormones (including estrogen) and prevent reabsorption. This can potentially make certain times of the month that much more bearable.

5. It Can Improve Your Mood

The gut-brain axis is no joke. As more and more research emerges about this undeniable link, we’re realizing just how great of an impact the gut has on how we feel. 

Now, the gut microbiome consists of trillions of bacteria—some good guys and some bad guys. Essentially, we want to balance out both sides of this equation, resulting in a healthy gut and healthy signals along that gut-brain axis. And yes, fiber can help with this delicate balance.

Dietary fiber is associated with increased gut bacteria diversity, which research suggests is a good thing (9). When this diversity is low, or this bacterial balance is off, it could actually increase our risk of depression and anxiety disorders (10). 

So, the solution? Eat adequate fiber. This will feed the good gut bacteria and help maintain all those mechanisms that go into feeling good.

6. It Can Contribute to Increased Energy

You may have heard talk about how fiber can help balance blood sugar levels. This works when soluble fiber is mixed with water…it forms a gel in the digestive tract, which slows down the digestion of other foods and nutrients. This means glucose and carbs enter the bloodstream more slowly, which keeps energy levels stable.

On the flip side, when glucose is quickly dumped into the bloodstream (i.e. you eat a doughnut or drink a glass of orange juice), you’ll feel a quick—and short-lived—surge of energy. But what goes up must come down. The body will quickly secrete enough insulin to bring blood sugar levels back down. This process often results in a sudden loss of energy, a headache, and even irritability or intense hunger cravings.

Put simply, when you eat enough fiber, energy crashes are few and far between. Fiber helps keep your blood sugar regulated, which, in turn, stabilizes your energy throughout the day.

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With a slight citrus flavor, just one scoop equips you with 4 grams of Baobab and 200 milligrams of L-Glutamine to support digestion, bowel regularity, and colon health.

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7. It Might Just Clear Up Your Skin

As per all of the above, fiber can help flush toxins out of the body, which may improve skin health and appearance. 

For example, recent research suggests dietary fiber can improve wound healing and scar formation (11). This could be beneficial for those struggling with skin conditions like acne, helping blemishes heal faster.

Since fiber also helps regulate blood sugar, it assists in curbing inflammation related to blood sugar spikes. This reduction in inflammation may prevent the excess production of oil that leads to acne, which may prevent future breakouts and allow present breakouts to heal without interruption (12).

And there’s also some evidence indicating it can help ease eczema and reduce skin allergies (13, 14). The mechanism of action here is thought to be the gut’s impact on the immune system. With a healthy fiber intake, the microbiome’s role in immune function is enhanced, potentially leading to fewer false, inflammatory responses (15). While more research is needed, the preliminary results are promising. 

Plus, it makes sense, physiologically-wise, that what we eat would impact our skin health and appearance. For example, a protein deficiency may result in a condition called marasmus, manifesting as dry, loose, and wrinkled skin (16). Thus, ensuring you’re getting a variety of nutrients, including fiber, is good news for your skin health.

8. It Could Improve Your Workouts

This is one of the least-known facts about fiber. Yet, it’s actually been studied quite extensively. 

In a 2017 study, researchers concluded that a fiber supplement did, in fact, enhance athletic performance in Japanese college athletes (17). Another 2023 study suggested that increased dietary fiber intake could decrease perceived exertion, contributing to increased performance (18).

For the most part, experts seem to conclude that this is the case due to fiber’s role in energy regulation and gastrointestinal health, both of which are crucial for endurance and performance.

9. It May Decrease Your Allergies

Some types of fiber can help regulate the immune system, potentially reducing the severity of allergic reactions and asthma. Research has further demonstrated this, showing high fiber intake to be associated with reduced hay fever (allergic rhinitis), particularly in males (19). Additionally, it may help reduce eczema (atopic dermatitis), as per benefit #7.

Yet, there is some skepticism here.

Some research indicates increased seasonal allergies with fiber intake (20). More research is needed to determine the specific types of allergies that fiber may alleviate or aggravate.

10. It Could Help You Finally Quit Smoking

A diet high in fiber may help people who are trying to quit smoking by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. For instance, one study showed that two or more servings of fruit per day (which can be a healthy dose of fiber) reduced the likelihood of one smoking by 53% compared to those who consumed no fruit at all (21).

Not only that, but appetite and weight usually increase when one quits smoking. Researchers believe that fiber can mitigate this by promoting feelings of fullness between meals (22).

11. It Increases Hydration in the Body

Fiber can help maintain hydration levels in the body by absorbing and retaining water in the digestive system, which is beneficial for overall cellular health. At the same time, it can also lead you to drink more water. In fact, water and fiber should go hand-in-hand as this is how soluble fiber forms its gel-like consistency, promoting fullness and contributing to stable energy and mood.

It’s worth noting, however, that fiber can cause gas and bloating if not enough water is drunk alongside it. 

Routhenstein adds, “If you are not used to consuming fiber, you may experience excessive gas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. Adding fiber too fast or the wrong type may exacerbate your symptoms.”

“In these situations,” she says, “you’ll want to work with a registered dietitian who can help address gut issues and provide you with a personalized plan for the specific introduction of certain foods to assist with the digestion process of fiber.”

So, lesson learned: Eat your fiber, but have a glass or two of water too. Or simply drink a refreshing glass of Native Fiber.

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Restore Your Gut Health

With a slight citrus flavor, just one scoop equips you with 4 grams of Baobab and 200 milligrams of L-Glutamine to support digestion, bowel regularity, and colon health.

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Krista Bugden
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Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden is a freelance writer with a BS in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa. She spent 5 years working as a kinesiologist, giving her the first-hand experience she needed to write well-researched, scientific, and informative blogs.

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    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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