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Belly fat is extremely unhealthy. In fact, it increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other health conditions.
Fortunately, belly fat can be lost, and recent research shows that a higher fiber intake is linked to a lower risk of belly fat.
But interestingly, it seems that this includes only one type of fiber — soluble fiber. This article explains how soluble fiber can help you lose belly fat.
Soluble Fiber Can Help You Lose Belly Fat
There are two types of fiber — insoluble and soluble fiber. They differ in how they interact with water in your body.
Insoluble fiber does not mix with water and acts mostly as a bulking agent to help form stool and pass it through the gut. This can help with constipation.
Soluble fiber, such as beta-glucan, psyllium husk and glucomannan, mixes with water to form a viscous, gel-like substance that slows down how fast the stomach releases digested food into the gut.
This gives nutrients and water more contact time with the walls of the gut, leading to better absorption.
Eating more soluble fiber can also help you lose belly fat and prevent belly fat gain. One study linked a 10-gram increase in daily soluble fiber intake to a 3.7% lower risk of gaining belly fat.
Several other studies also show that people who eat more soluble fiber have a lower risk of belly fat.
In fact, soluble fiber may help reduce belly fat in several ways.
Summary: Soluble fiber differs from insoluble fiber in how it interacts with water and other areas of the body. Soluble fiber may help reduce belly fat.
Soluble Fiber Encourages Gut Bacteria Diversity, Which Is Linked to Less Belly Fat
Teaspoon of Psyllium Husk
There are over 100 trillion helpful bacteria living in your lower gut.
Unlike other bacteria, these bacteria are harmless and share a mutually beneficial relationship with humans.
Humans provide the bacteria with a home and nutrients, while the bacteria help take care of processes like producing vitamins and processing waste.
There are many different types of bacteria, and having a greater variety of gut bacteria is linked to a lower risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and heart disease, to name a few.
And although it’s not clear why, many studies show that people who consume more soluble fiber have a greater variety of bacteria and better health outcomes.
What’s more, a recent study showed that people with a greater variety of gut bacteria have a lower risk of belly fat (14).
While initial research on bacterial diversity’s effect on belly fat is promising, more studies are needed before a clear link can be made.
Summary: A greater variety of helpful gut bacteria may be linked to a lower risk of belly fat, but more research is needed to confirm this.
How Helpful Gut Bacteria May Reduce Belly Fat
Because your body cannot digest fiber itself, it reaches the gut largely unchanged.
Once there, specific enzymes in gut bacteria can digest soluble fiber. This is one important way in which gut bacteria promote optimal health. Meanwhile, soluble fiber acts as a prebiotic, providing the bacteria with nutrients.
This process of digesting and processing soluble fiber is called fermentation. It produces short-chain fatty acids, a type of fat that can help reduce belly fat.
One way short-chain fatty acids may help regulate your fat metabolism is by increasing the rate of fat burning or decreasing the rate of fat storage, although exactly how this works is not completely understood.
Regardless, many studies show a connection between a higher level of short-chain fatty acids and a lower risk of belly fat.
Furthermore, animal and lab studies have shown that short-chain fatty acids have reduced the risk of colon cancer.
Summary: Your gut bacteria can digest soluble fiber. The process produces short-chain fatty acids, which are linked to a lower risk of belly fat.