Fiber Is Key to Preventing Belly Fat and Living Longer

Getting your daily requirements for dietary fiber may be the answer to helping you stay free of belly fat that is linked to chronic disease. Two new studies published this year show a connection between increased soluble fiber intake and less accumulation of belly fat, as well as an association between increased total fiber intake and longer life.

In one study, published in the online journal, Obesity, by researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, results showed that for every 10 gram increase in soluble fiber there was a 3.7 percent decrease in visceral adipose tissue (belly fat). The study explored the effects of lifestyle factors—diet, physical activity and smoking—on fat that builds around the midsection. Over the course of five years, the researchers collected data from 1,114 African-American and Hispanic men and women. Of the factors observed, the two that reduced belly fat the most were engaging in vigorous physical activity and increasing soluble fiber intake from beans, vegetables, and fruits.

So why should we be concerned about belly fat anyway? Besides from not letting you look your best in a swimsuit, fat around the midsection builds up fatty deposits around your internal organs and has been shown to lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. The other type of fat that accumulates in the body, subcutaneous fat, or fat that deposits just under the skin, is not so much the health concern that belly fat is. As more of the population is struggling with their weight and finding themselves with that “ring” of fat around the middle, researchers from this study conclude that “increasing the intake of dietary fiber may be a possible approach for prevention.”

Also building the case for increasing fiber in your diet is a study by researchers from the U.S. National Cancer Institute that found diets higher in fiber, especially fiber from grains, significantly reduce the chance of dying from cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious diseases. This study followed over 388,000 American men and women over the course of nine years and found that, overall, people with the highest intakes of fiber—an average of 25 to 30 grams a day—were 22 percent less likely to die from any natural cause than those consuming just 10 to 13 grams.

Now that we know how much fiber we need (face it, we know most of us aren’t getting enough) and that research is backing up the reasons to get more in our diet, what exactly is fiber anyway? Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate that’s present in all plant foods including grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. There are several ways to classify fiber, such as by its origin or whether or not it will dissolve in water. For example, fiber found in grains is called cereal fibers and fiber that’s dissolvable in water is referred to as soluble fiber while insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. Usually there is a mixture of both in fiber-containing foods, and both provide you with various health benefits.

Soluble fiber has long been known as a health-promoting powerhouse because it helps lower blood cholesterol levels, helps improve blood glucose levels, and helps form soft stools. Insoluble fiber supports regular bowel movements. Previous studies have implied that a combination of dietary fiber of both types might help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. The current U.S. dietary guidelines recommend consuming 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed, or 28 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. These recommendations don’t seem to be getting through though to many people—recent estimates indicate that, on average, US adults are getting about half the dietary fiber they need. To give you an idea of what you might need to meet the requirements, here’s a list of some typical foods and their fiber levels:

Food Serving Size Dietary Fiber (g)
Oatmeal 1 cup 4
Whole Wheat Bread 1 slice 2
Apple, raw with skin 1 medium 3.7
Orange 1 medium 3.1
Blueberries ½ cup 2
Black Beans ½ cup 7.5
Broccoli ½ cup 2.3
Green Peas ½ cup 4.4
Source: USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

 What may be apparent here is that it takes a lot of good, healthy food to get your recommended amount of fiber in every day. It’s understandable that many people don’t meet their recommendations given the typical American diet of overly-processed, highly-refined, and fiber-less food. Fact is, food manufacturers have long focused on leaving fiber out of their products because of its interference with flavor. Indeed, when people think of high-fiber products, it’s likely that images pop up of products with bland, cardboard-like flavors.

Isagenix seeks to change the way people think of high-fiber products. For example, Isagenix SlimCakes are a cookie-like product so delicious it’s hard to believe they provide 5 grams of fiber each and FiberSnacks!, providing 6 grams of fiber each, could easily compete with any candy bar in terms of flavor. Another product Isagenix produces is FiberPro, a completely flavorless powder that will add 5 grams of fiber by the scoop to any beverage or shake. With choices like these, getting enough fiber is a cinch!

Bottom line? However way you obtain high-fiber foods in your diet, soluble or insoluble, it is good for your heart and blood sugar, helps cut down on belly fat, and helps you live longer. Be sure to add fiber to your diet gradually though, and drink plenty of water to avoid gas, bloating and constipation. Other than that, time to load up!


Park Y,Subar AF, Hollenbeck A, Schatzkin A. Dietary Fiber Intake and Mortality in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Arch Intern Med. 2011 Jun 27;171(12):1061-8. Epub 2011 Feb 14. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2011.18.

 K. G. Hairston, M. Z. Vitolins, J. M. Norris, A. M. Anderson, A. J. Hanley, and L. E. Wagenknecht. Lifestyle Factors and 5-Year Abdominal Fat Accumulation in a Minority Cohort: The IRAS Family Study. Obesity.(Silver.Spring), 2011. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2011.18.