By Ryan Raman
Belly fat is extremely unhealthy. In fact, it increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other health conditions (1).
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 (3).
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 percent lower risk of gaining belly fat (2).
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
There are more than 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 (7).
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 (8).
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 (15).
Furthermore, animal and lab studies have shown that short-chain fatty acids have reduced the risk of colon cancer (20).
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.
Soluble Fiber Helps Reduce Appetite
One way to lose belly fat is to lose weight.
And given that soluble fiber is a powerful natural appetite suppressant, it can help you do that.
There are several theories about how soluble fiber can help reduce your appetite.
First, soluble fiber helps regulate hormones involved in appetite control.
Second, fiber can reduce appetite by slowing the movement of food through the gut.
When nutrients like glucose are released slowly into the gut, your body releases insulin at a slower rate. This is linked to a reduced sense of hunger (4).
Summary: Losing weight can help you lose belly fat. Soluble fiber can help you lose weight by curbing your appetite, which reduces calorie intake.
Sources of Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber is easy to add to your diet and found in a variety of plant-based foods.
However, although soluble fiber may help you lose belly fat, it's not a great idea to eat lots of soluble fiber right away.
This can cause side effects, such as stomach cramps, diarrhea and bloating. It's best to increase your intake slowly, over time, to help improve your body's tolerance.
Summary: Great sources of soluble fiber include flaxseeds, legumes, grains, fruits and vegetables. Aim to increase your intake slowly over time.
Can Fiber Supplements Help Reduce Belly Fat?
Whole foods are the best way to increase your soluble fiber intake.
But if this isn't realistic for you, taking a soluble fiber supplement could be an option.
Various types are available, including psyllium husk, glucomannan and inulin, and some evidence shows they can help you lose belly fat.
For example, one six-week study in teenage boys showed that taking a psyllium husk supplement reduced belly fat (28).
Also, the viscous fiber glucomannan has shown mixed results for belly fat loss. One study in mice found that glucomannan supplements reduced belly fat, while a human study showed the same effect, but only in men (29, 30).
Yet despite these mixed results, glucomannan can also promote belly fat loss by slowing down digestion and reducing appetite (31).
Inulin is another type of soluble fiber. Even though it's not very viscous, it has been linked to belly fat loss.
One 18-week weight loss study in people at risk of type 2 diabetics gave participants either inulin or cellulose (insoluble fiber) supplements. Both groups received nutrition advice for the first nine weeks and followed a fat-loss diet.
While both groups lost weight, the inulin group lost significantly more belly fat, total body fat and total weight. They also ate less food than the cellulose group (32).
Overall, fiber supplements seem like a promising area for future research in belly fat loss. Yet, more research is needed before making a stronger recommendation.
Summary: Psyllium, glucomannan and inulin show promise for belly fat loss, though more research is needed to make supplement recommendations.
The Bottom Line
Eating foods rich in soluble fiber may help you lose belly fat.
Soluble fiber helps keep your gut bacteria healthy and promotes overall fat loss by reducing your appetite.
To further promote belly fat loss, combine your soluble fiber intake with other lifestyle changes, such as making healthier food choices and exercising more.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Alexandra Rowles
Oregano is a fragrant herb that's best known as an ingredient in Italian food.
However, it can also be concentrated into an essential oil that's loaded with antioxidants and powerful compounds that have proven health benefits.
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By Emily Grubert
Natural gas is a versatile fossil fuel that accounts for about a third of U.S. energy use. Although it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Reducing emissions from the natural gas system is especially challenging because natural gas is used roughly equally for electricity, heating, and industrial applications.
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6bd9fda1316965a9ba24dd60fd9cc34d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3KaMnkmf0tc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
What RNG Is and Why it Matters<p>Most equipment that uses energy can only use a single kind of fuel, but the fuel might come from different resources. For example, you can't charge your computer with gasoline, but it can run on electricity generated from coal, natural gas or solar power.</p><p>Natural gas is almost pure methane, <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas/" target="_blank">currently sourced</a> from raw, fossil natural gas produced from <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas/where-our-natural-gas-comes-from.php" target="_blank">deposits deep underground</a>. But methane could come from renewable resources, too.</p><p><span></span>Two main methane sources could be used to make RNG. First is <a href="https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks" target="_blank">biogenic methane</a>, produced by bacteria that digest organic materials in manure, landfills and wastewater. Wastewater treatment plants, landfills and dairy farms have captured and used biogenic methane as an energy resource for <a href="http://emilygrubert.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/eia_860_2017_map.html" target="_blank">decades</a>, in a form usually called <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/biomass/landfill-gas-and-biogas.php" target="_blank">biogas</a>.</p><p>Some biogenic methane is generated naturally when organic materials break down without oxygen. Burning it for energy can be beneficial for the climate if doing so prevents methane from escaping to the atmosphere.</p>
Renewable Isn’t Always Sustainable<p>If RNG could be a renewable replacement for fossil natural gas, why not move ahead? Consumers have shown that they are <a href="https://www.nrel.gov/analysis/green-power.html" target="_blank">willing to buy renewable electricity</a>, so we might expect similar enthusiasm for RNG.</p><p>The key issue is that methane isn't just a fuel – it's also a <a href="https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/ghg_report/ghg_overview.php" target="_blank">potent greenhouse gas</a> that contributes to climate change. Any methane that is manufactured intentionally, whether from biogenic or other sources, will contribute to climate change if it enters the atmosphere.</p><p>And <a href="http://doi.org/10.1126/science.aar7204" target="_blank">releases</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2019.07.029" target="_blank">will happen</a>, from newly built production systems and <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-methane-emissions-matter-to-climate-change-5-questions-answered-122684" target="_blank">existing, leaky transportation and user infrastructure</a>. For example, the moment you smell gas before the pilot light on a stove lights the ring? That's methane leakage, and it contributes to climate change.</p><p>To be clear, RNG is almost certainly better for the climate than fossil natural gas because byproducts of burning RNG won't contribute to climate change. But doing somewhat better than existing systems is no longer enough to respond to the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2923" target="_blank">urgency</a> of climate change. The world's <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm/" target="_blank">primary international body on climate change</a> suggests we need to decarbonize by 2030 to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.</p>
Scant Climate Benefits<p><a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab9335/meta" target="_blank">My recent research</a> suggests that for a system large enough to displace a lot of fossil natural gas, RNG is probably not as good for the climate as <a href="https://investor.southerncompany.com/information-for-investors/latest-news/latest-news-releases/press-release-details/2020/Southern-Company-Gas-grows-leadership-team-to-focus-on-climate-action-innovation-and-renewable-natural-gas-strategy/default.aspx" target="_blank">is publicly claimed</a>. Although RNG has lower climate impact than its fossil counterpart, likely high demand and methane leakage mean that it probably will contribute to climate change. In contrast, renewable sources such as wind and solar energy do not <a href="https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/carbon/" target="_blank">emit climate pollution directly</a>.</p><p>What's more, creating a large RNG system would require building mostly new production infrastructure, since RNG comes from different sources than fossil natural gas. Such investments are both long-term commitments and opportunity costs. They would devote money, political will and infrastructure investments to RNG instead of alternatives that could achieve a zero greenhouse gas emission goal.</p><p>When climate change first <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/24/us/global-warming-has-begun-expert-tells-senate.html" target="_blank">broke into the political conversation</a> in the late 1980s, investing in long-lived systems with low but non-zero greenhouse gas emissions was still compatible with aggressive climate goals. Now, zero greenhouse gas emissions is the target, and my research suggests that large deployments of RNG likely won't meet that goal.</p>
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By Charli Shield
When an elephant dies in the wild, it's not uncommon to later find its bones scattered throughout the surrounding landscape.
Elephant Burial Grounds<p>Highly social creatures that form deep familial bonds, elephants have long been observed gathering at the site where a peer or family member has died — often spending hours, even days, quietly investigating the bodies or the bones of other dead elephants.</p><p>Although the popular idea that dying elephants are instinctively drawn to special communal graves — so-called "elephant graveyards" — is a myth, their tendency to go out of their way to visit the bones and tusks of the deceased isn't unlike human rituals at graveyards, says animal psychologist Karen McComb.</p><p>"They spend a lot of time touching and smelling skulls and ivory, placing the soles of their feet gently on top of them, and also lifting them up with their trunks," McComb, who's been studying African elephants for 25 years in Kenya's Amboseli National Park, told DW.</p><p>The most striking part of watching an elephant experience loss, Poole recalls, is the quietude. She still remembers one of the first elephant deaths she witnessed; a mother who birthed a stillborn calf. That elephant stayed with its baby for two days, trying to lift it and defending it from vultures and hyenas.</p><p>"I was so struck by the expression on her face and her body. She looked so dejected. It was really like, 'Oh God, these animals grieve…'. It was just so different," Poole told DW. </p>
Witnessing Emotions in Animals<p>Not all scientists are comfortable concluding that elephants grieve. Among the more than 30 reports of elephant reactions to death that Wittemyer co-reviewed in <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10329-019-00766-5" target="_blank">a study published in November 2019</a> were accounts of "enormous variation and nuance" he says. "It can be incredibly involved and intricate for extended periods or can be relatively cursory checks."</p><p>In Wittemyer's own experience, it can be difficult not to attribute some kind of emotional experience to the more involved interactions between elephants and their dead.</p><p>He shares the story of an "extraordinary event" involving the death of a 55 year-old matriarch in Kenya in a protected area that happened to be near his place of work. She was visited by multiple unrelated families while she was dying, including another matriarch that exerted such enormous effort attempting to lift her to her feet that she broke her tusk, which Wittemyer says, is "like breaking a tooth." </p><p><span></span>"It was a remarkable example of this heightened emotional state, it was very clearly a very stressful interaction," he says.</p>
A Different Sensory World<p>One factor that limits our ability to fully grasp the way elephants process and respond to loss is our markedly different sensory experiences of the world.</p><p>An elephant's world is fundamentally olfactory — based on smell. Ours is visual. Previous <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25053675/" target="_blank">research</a> has shown elephants possess the most scent receptors of any mammal, and can <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17949977/" target="_blank">use smell</a> to discern the difference between different human tribes from the same local area.</p><p>That could explain why elephants exhibit such interest in sniffing the bones and tusks of others, as a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1617198/" target="_blank">2005 study</a> from McCombs highlighted. When presented with the skulls and ivory of long-dead elephants and those from other large herbivores, including rhino and buffalo, McCombs and her team found elephants approached and were specifically attracted to the remains of their own species. </p><p>Without access to the smells an elephant picks up on, Wittemyer says "an enormous amount of stuff" could be missed by humans when studying these behaviors.</p>
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