Learn the secret to losing weight – and improve your overall health at the same time.

Fiber. It’s not a sexy solution, but it’s one that works wonders for maintaining a healthy weight. Beans, vegetables, fruit and grains all contain fiber, which helps keep your digestive tract clean, healthy and at peak function.

But, did you know that consuming 30 grams of fiber a day could help you lose weight? Researchers found that adding 30 grams of fiber to your diet every day for six months could decrease a person’s weight by five pounds. When coupled with other activities conducive to a healthy lifestyle such as limiting salt, sugar, fat, alcohol and eating healthier, the weight loss increased to 6 pounds.

More benefits of a high-fiber diet

Weight loss is only one benefit of a high-fiber diet. The same study revealed that a fiber rich diet also reduced or eliminated metabolic syndrome, which is the group of risk factors (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar) that increase your chance of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Reducing or eliminating these risk factors altogether might even help you live longer.

Other benefits of a high-fiber diet include:

Healthy skin

When yeast and fungus are excreted from the body through skin, they can cause acne or rashes. Fiber flushes them out through the digestive tract instead.

Lower cholesterol

Soluble fibers found in flaxseed, beans and oats lower “bad” cholesterol.

Healthy gut

Fiber adds bulk to your stool, which reduces constipation and moves waste through your digestive tract faster and dilutes the effect of toxins on the colon. In turn, this is thought to decrease the risk of colon and rectal cancers.

Reduced risk of stroke

The risk of first-time stroke decreases seven percent for every seven grams more fiber you eat daily.

Reduced risk for type 2 diabetes

A high-fiber diet controls blood glucose levels by slowing their absorption into the body. People who eat a high fiber diet reduce their risk of getting the disease by half when compared to those with a diet of low fiber and foods of little nutritional value.

High-fiber foods

To increase your fiber intake, add these foods to your daily diet:

  • Oatmeal
  • Chia seeds
  • Brown rice
  • Bran muffin
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • All-Bran cereal or cereal with high fiber
  • Kidney beans
  • Pears and apples with skin
  • Prunes
  • Barley (cooked)
  • Berries
  • Cauliflower

If you’re ready to explore healthier nutritional options, consider meeting with an expert to discuss a personalized plan.

The USC Digestive Health Center has some of the world’s top digestive specialists. If you are in the Los Angeles area, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting http://digestive.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/.

By Heidi Tyline King