If we are talking about gut health, we can’t neglect talking about fiber. Do you get enough fiber? Probably not. Most Americans especially those consuming the standard American diet of processed foods or prepared foods only get a fraction of the recommended daily intake of fiber. According to the Institute of Medicine, the daily recommended intake for adults is as follows:
Age 50 or younger
Age 51 or older
Why is fiber so important?
Dietary fiber is essentially part of plant-based foods that your body can’t digest or absorb. So why is it so special? Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material, and it can help lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels. It can be found in oatmeal, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruit, carrots and barley. Insoluble fiber can’t be dissolved in water and promotes the movement of digestive material in your stool. It is critical for those who suffer from constipation. Insoluble fiber is found in whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables and even potatoes. It is important to consume a variety of fiber to ensure that your body is able to gain the maximum benefit of this important dietary aid.
Top 5 Benefits of Fiber in Your Diet
- Keeps you Regular – Clearly one of the biggest benefits of increasing your dietary fiber! Who doesn’t appreciate being regular?! Not to offer up TMI, but everybody poops, and we need to poop regular. Fiber increases the size and weight of our stool and softens it. A bulky stool is actually easier to pass and fiber helps to absorb the water in the stool, solidifying it and making it easier to pass.
- Promotes a Healthy Heart – Dietary fiber has been known to lower cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. In fact for every 7g of fiber eaten everyday, the risk of heart disease can drop by 9% according to a meta-analysis of 22 studies. So switching from bacon and eggs in the morning to a bowl of oatmeal reduces your risk of heart disease in 2 ways – cutting the fat and cholesterol from the bacon and eggs, and by adding the fiber of the oatmeal.
- Lowers your Blood Sugar – Established in multiple studies, both soluble and insoluble fiber play a major role in cutting the risk of the development of diabetes. Those that consumed more than 26g of fiber a day reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes by 18%. That is astounding! Soluble fiber has been shown to slow the absorption of sugar, and improve blood sugar levels.
- Helps you Lose Weight – Who doesn’t want a little help here? High-fiber foods are more filling than low-fiber foods, so you will stay fuller for longer. And these foods usually take longer to eat and are more dense, meaning that they have more calories for the same volume of food. One study demonstrated that those who doubled their fiber intake everyday for a year, were able to lose 9-13lbs over the course of that year. Sign me up!
- Helps you Live Longer – In a recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health, those that regularly consumed fiber-rich cereals had a 19% reduction in mortality, while those that regularly consumed whole grains had a 17% reduction in mortality. So why not make a simple investment in your diet and add years to your life?!
Ways to Sneak in More Fiber
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – Try our Chai-spiced Maple Apple Oatmeal to ensure you start your day right.
- Move to Whole Grains – In your baked goods, in your side dishes, on sandwiches. Put down the white bread and white rice, and spice it up with our Indian-spiced Brown Rice.
- Increase your Intake of Beans and Legumes – If you haven’t tried lentils, there’s no better time. Make our simple Southwest Lentil Salad as a side dish for your next picnic and you will be helping everyone’s fiber intake!
- Eat more Fresh Fruits and Veggies – Try for 5 servings a day!
- Look for more Fiber in your Snacks – Even popcorn counts as added dietary fiber, so when you head to the movies this weekend, you are helping your daily intake of fiber!
I don’t know about you, but these benefits of fiber are overwhelming and the investment of a minor dietary change is worth it. Getting enough dietary fiber means ensure that you do track it and pay attention to your daily intake. Take a moment and register on our site, start tracking your intake and you will see some of the benefits listed above. Aren’t you worth it?