At its best, belly fat is somewhat embarrassing, especially if you are trying to look slimmer in tight-fitting clothing. However, at its worst, belly fat is extremely unhealthy, it not only increases the risk of obesity but raises the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other risky health conditions as well. Not all hope is lost though! Losing belly fat may feel and sound like a challenge, but rest assured, it is entirely possible. Research has found that a diet with a higher fibre intake is associated with a lower risk of belly fat. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that only one type of fibre, namely soluble fibre, could aid in reducing belly fat.
How Does Soluble Fibre Fight Belly Fat?
It’s important to note that fibre is categorised into two groups — insoluble and soluble fibre. The main difference between these two types of fibre is the interaction it has with the water in the body. Insoluble fibre doesn’t mix with water and acts as a bulking agent to aid in the formation of stool, allowing it to pass through the gut easily. This prevents constipation and keeps the gut healthy. Soluble fibre, including the likes of beta-glucan and glucomannan, infuses with water to form a gel-like and viscous substance that delays how fast the stomach releases digested food into the gut. Consuming more soluble fibre can aid in the loss of belly fat and prevent the future formation of belly fat. In fact, a study linked a 10-gram increase in daily soluble fibre intake to the lower risk of gaining belly fat, more specifically a 3.7 percent reduction in abdominal fat. Several other studies showed that people who eat more soluble fibre have a reduced risk of belly fat. There are several ways soluble fibre can reduce belly fat.
Soluble Fibre Encourages Gut Bacteria Diversity
There are 100 trillion good bacteria living in the lower gut. These helpful bacteria share a beneficial relationship with the body. The human body provides the bacteria with nutrients while the bacteria works to produce vitamins and processing waste. There are many different types of bacteria and the presence of a greater variety of gut bacteria leads to a reduced risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. Many studies found that the increased consumption of soluble fibre contains a greater variety of bacteria and lead to better health outcomes. And that’s not all, a study shows that people who have a greater variety of gut bacteria have a reduced risk of belly fat.
How Gut Bacteria Reduces Belly Fat
Since the human body isn’t capable of digesting fibre, it typically reaches the gut largely unchanged. Once it reaches the gut, the specific enzymes in the gut bacteria digest soluble fibre. In the meantime, soluble fibre functions as a prebiotic, providing the bacteria with nutrients. The process of digesting and breaking down the soluble fibre is known as fermentation. Fermentation produces short-chain fatty acids, a type of fat that can aid in the reduction of belly fat. Short-chain fatty acids regulate fat metabolism by increasing the rate of fat burning or decreasing the rate of fat storage. Many studies show a strong correlation between a higher level of short-chain fatty acids and a lower risk of belly fat.
Soluble Fibre Reduces Appetite
It goes without saying that losing weight is one of the most effective ways to lose belly fat. And since soluble fibre acts as a powerful natural appetite suppressant, this can aid in weight loss. Suppressing your appetite can also reduce calorie intake, which can work to reduce your overall weight. Additionally, soluble fibre manages hormones that are involved in appetite control. Studies have shown that consuming soluble fibre lowers the levels of hunger hormones produced by the body, including ghrelin. Other studies have found that soluble fibre boosts the production of hormones that make you feel full. Moreover, fibre also has the ability to reduce appetite by slowing the movement of food passing through the gut. When nutrients such as glucose are released slowly into the gut, the body works to release insulin at a slower rate, which is linked to a reduced sense of hunger.
Sources of Soluble Fibre
Fortunately, soluble fibre is found in a variety of plant-based foods and can be included into your diet easily. Soluble fibre rich foods include sweet potatoes, flaxseed, legumes, brussels sprouts and fruits such as oranges and apricots. Although soluble fibre combats belly fat, it’s not wise to jump on the bandwagon and consume soluble fibre in bulk. There is a chance that the over-consumption of soluble fibre can cause several side effects including diarrhoea, stomach cramps and bloating. This is the main reason why it is best to increase your intake of soluble fibre slowly and steadily. It is also best if you include soluble fibre in a diet that is well-balanced.