5 Reasons to Eat More Fiber in Menopause
When you think of the many tools within your arsenal of healthy living, fiber may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, a fiber-rich diet can have many health benefits, particularly for women in menopause.
Fiber — found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and grains — is the food that feeds your gut microbiome. Fiber cannot be digested by the human stomach. Instead, it acts as a food source for the bacteria that live in the gut. Fiber is passed out through your body, which helps keep your digestive system healthy.
So how can fiber benefit the health of women undergoing the menopausal transition?
Fiber Improves Nutrient Absorption
Certain dietary fibers can help your body better absorb necessary nutrients from food sources. Soluble fibers are fibers that dissolve in the stomach and turn into a gelatinous substance. Once these fibers become gelatinous, they slow down the digestion process. This allows gut bacteria in the digestive tract to better extract nutrients that can be passed through the intestinal lining and into the bloodstream.
Women in menopause need more necessary nutrients as they get older, to help maintain their bodies. Things like Vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, Vitamin C, and many more need to be extracted from your food sources to help your body create new cells to help maintain things like muscle mass and bone density, which can be affected during the menopausal transition.
May Help Improve Menopausal Symptoms
Fiber’s impact on the speed of digestion also helps your body extract nutrients that can help relieve your menopausal symptoms. Take insomnia as an example. If you suffer from insomnia regularly and you try to eat sleepy foods or take pills designed to help you sleep, your body may be having a hard time absorbing those substances, which can delay the effects.
Another example is your skin’s health. If your body cannot absorb nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C from the foods that you eat, your skin starts to suffer. It becomes more difficult for your skin’s immune response to regulate itself effectively. It also can become more difficult for your skin to retain moisture and produce enough new skin cells without those necessary nutrients. A fiber-rich diet can help your body maintain itself and help bring itself back to a place of balance that may alleviate your menopausal symptoms.
Keeps Your Gut Microbiome Healthy
Your gut microbiome is your second brain and just like your brain, you need to take care of it. So how do you take care of an entire microscopic ecosystem of bacteria? Feed it well and feed it with the right things! Fiber can help feed your gut microbiome with what it needs. While fiber cannot be digested by humans, it’s an excellent food source for gut bacteria.
Fiber can provide your bacteria with things like amino acids and proteins that those bacteria need in order to maintain healthy, stable growth. When your bacteria feeds off of these compounds within fiber, they maintain a steady rate of growth. Populating your gut with enough beneficial bacteria can help send nutrients to your body and necessary information to your brain, which then directs how your body responds to these nutrients.
Helps with Weight Management
Fiber can also help with weight management. A woman can gain up to 3 percent of body fat each year as she goes through the menopausal transition. Weight management becomes even more difficult for women as changes to the sex hormones change metabolism, fat distribution, and blood glucose levels. Changes to diet and exercise levels are paramount to helping maintain weight and reducing the risk of developing certain conditions like diabetes.
So how does fiber do this? Fiber suppresses appetite and helps prevent you from overeating. By slowing down the digestion process, your gut sends signals to your brain that it’s full and it cannot take any more food. Your brain will then register this information and suppress appetite to prevent you from overeating. This can help you better maintain a steady, moderate diet and help lower food cravings.
Lowers Risk of Certain Diseases
Fiber can help lower the development of certain diseases. Heart disease, diabetes, and IBS can all develop in women as a result of the health changes from the menopausal transition. Fiber’s impact on the body can help lower the risk of these diseases, but how?
Fiber helps reduce blood glucose levels in the body. Fiber helps slow down the absorption of sugars during digestion. This reduces the number of sugars absorbed into the bloodstream, which can help improve cardiovascular health. One of the biggest dangers to women’s cardiovascular health is glucose toxicity. Glucose toxicity causes an increase in insulin resistance which can lead to the development of diabetes, heart disease, and more. Fiber’s ability to lower sugar absorption into the bloodstream can help reduce the risk of these conditions from developing but are not a guaranteed preventative on its own. Changes to all areas of lifestyle should be taken into account if you are concerned about developing diabetes or other-related heart diseases.