If you’re interested in weight loss, and hunger is your main enemy, you should take a look at hydrophilic foods. Hydrophilic means “Water-Loving”. Food that loves water? Sort of. It refers to the ability of natural substances inside the foods that soak up water, or cling to water. The two main types are “Pectins” and “Mucilage” or “Soluble Fiber”. Each one comes from plants, such as fruits, nuts, or seeds. But how does the ability to cling to water help you lose weight? There are actually several interesting ways it works, one of which you can watch happen, right before your eyes.
First, soluble fiber & pectin both cling to water and take up space. The ability to turn water (or liquid in the digestive system) into gel makes it more difficult for your body to absorb the water. It has to work with the gel, un-binding the fibers, which takes time and effort. In the meantime, you continue to feel full or satisfied. A side effect of this is it keeps the intestines hydrated, which in turn helps other foods move along smoothly through the digestive process. This taking up space makes a little food, go a much longer way in keeping you feeling satisfied.
Second, soluble fiber feeds the good-guy bacteria (Probiotics you always hear about in yogurt commercials) which then, in turn, help you digest your food better. Good bacteria help break down foods more thoroughly, and when you have better nutrition, you also have less cravings. Not having to fight cravings or resist problem foods also helps make it easier to lose weight. You cannot digest insoluble or soluble fiber. It doesn’t add to the calories you eat, because you cannot break it down for use. However, the good bacteria can, and prebiotic fiber (soluble fiber) keeps them healthy, so they can continue helping you.
Pectin (a substance apples are famous for) is known to lower hunger hormones. An apple a day may not keep doctors away, but it may keep hunger at bay. (There are more types of apple than there are days in the year, so if you don’t like one type, there are certainly more flavors to choose from) However, keep in mind that hunger hormones & fullness signals are chemical signals. Unlike nerve signals, they take time to activate and reach the brain. It can take up to 15 to 20 minutes for a chemical signal to go from the stomach to the brain, so patience is key.
Hydrophilic foods also slow down the body’s ability to convert carbs into sugars. This evens out blood sugar, resulting in positive changes like reducing or eliminated ‘afternoon slumps’, stopping insulin spikes, and limiting the “store belly-fat” insulin signal that generally occurs when a lot of sugar is consumed. Even out your blood sugar over the course of the day, calm down fat storage signals and feel more even energy throughout the day when you choose these great foods.
Now that you know what hydrophilic foods can do for you, you’ll want to give them a try. There’s nothing exotic or expensive here, and some of the foods may have already been a part of your menu. Tasty staples like the sweet potato, apple, oatmeal, artichoke, beans, beets, carrots, green beans, asparagus, berries, citrus fruits of all types, pumpkin, peach, pear and even mango are on the list. Slightly less popular or seasonal-only options include quinoa, peas, brown rice, figs, papaya, snow peas, various squash, bok choy, peaches, kiwis and cabbages. The key to using them, is to include 1 hydrophilic food at each meal of the day.
But what about the promise of the soluble fiber you can see?
That one belongs to one of the most hydrophilic foods of all, the chia seed. This tiny seed has no flavor. It’s about the size of a poppy seed, but when you get it wet, something impressive starts to happen. The seed’s shell is covered in soluble fiber. When dry, it is invisible. But, when you wet the seeds and wait, you’ll find that each one forms a bead of gel. If you look closely, you’ll see the gel isn’t perfectly clear, there’s a little ‘halo’ of gray in there, and that is the soluble fiber. It stands on end when wet, to make the water cling to the seed.
Having a soluble fiber loaded seed without a flavor is important, because unlike an artichoke or peas, you can add tiny seeds to almost anything else. That easy-yogurt-cup not have the soluble fiber you want? Sprinkle on some chia, and now it will. Want to choose white rice with a Chinese dish instead of the known hydrophilic brown rice? Chia to the rescue, because you won’t notice the seeds are there, but your body will, when the soluble fiber activates. If you’d like to observe chia gel in action, just add 1 tablespoon of dry chia seeds to 9 tablespoons of water in a seal-able container, shake or stir, and wait about 15 minutes. When you return, you’ll see a thick gel as formed.
There are 2 general keys to using hydrophilic foods for weight loss, appetite sabotage, and fullness factor. By making a hydrophilic food a part of each meal, you take advantage of the fullness factor. Including a pear or peach at lunch, oatmeal with cinnamon, raisins and apple slices at breakfast, or a sweet potato at dinner will make the meal fill you up faster. You’ll want less of other foods present at the same meal, or you’ll stay full longer. This also helps avoid snacking between meals. You can also use a hydrophilic fruit to sabotage your appetite, if you have half an apple, or two figs, or a small slice of papaya or kiwi or an unsweetened beverage with chia seeds about 15 to 20 minutes before a meal. Selecting just one of these with half a glass of water will activate the soluble fiber and reduce your appetite. It has to be about 15 to 20 minutes before the meal, because the chemical signal from the stomach is rather slow to reach the brain, letting you know its working.
Using food in specific ways as a tool to help you lose weight is great, because it’s so safe. There are no pills or chemicals needed, your energy is steady, and you can skip up to 600 calories per day by reducing or sabotaging your appetite. Keeping insulin & its fat storage signals under control while boosting your healthy helper digestive bacteria are also great ways these foods help you with weight loss goals. You can always add more hydrophilic foods to any meal to increase the effect. The list of specific foods in this article is a start, but a simple online search will reveal even more choices for your menu. Don’t forget about the chia seed, either. It’s the only one you can put into ANY food (or drink) to add hydrophilic properties. If the fruits you want are out of season, and you’re not in the mood to fix quinoa, some chia sprinkled over the spaghetti or a glass of ice cold raspberry tea with chia gel will still satisfy. With this knowledge, chia seeds, and these tips on your side you can try weight loss the easy, safe & food based way.