And Other Fun Fiber Facts
When we eat fruits and vegetables, we are eating roughage or bulk, otherwise known as dietary fiber. Fiber cannot be digested like other carbohydrates. But, just because fiber isn’t absorbed by the body, it does not mean it doesn’t play an important role in our health.
What Does Fiber Do?
Fiber has countless health benefits! And most of us aren’t getting enough of it.
The most commonly known benefit of fiber is its ability to keep you regular. Fiber prevents and relieves constipation, as well as bulking up our bowel movements.
But that is not all that fiber does in our bodies.
A high fiber diet can:
- ensure regular bowel movements
- lower the risk of hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and some types of cancer
- lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation
- control blood sugar levels, especially in those with Type II diabetes
- help maintain a healthy weight by keeping you fuller for a longer time
- increase life expectancy, by reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer
Clearly, eating plants and ensuring one gets enough fiber in their diet is important. But a surprising number of people are not getting enough fiber in their diets.
How Many Bowls Of Shredded Wheat Do I Need To Get Enough?
As with most nutrients, dieticians suggest we get our fiber from our food rather than supplements. Moreover, the American Heart Association Eating Plan suggests we consume between 25-30 grams of fiber each day. Men who are younger than 50 years old are advised to consume as much as 38 grams of fiber.
The best sources of fiber include fruits and vegetables (with the skin on), whole-grain foods, legumes (beans and peas), as well as nuts and seeds. One of the biggest dangers of diets like the Keto diet is that you may cut out fiber when you cut out carbs. It is imperative that we remember to eat high fiber meals even when we are avoiding simple carbs.
Beans, broccoli, berries, avocado, and popcorn are all high in fiber. Eating fiber does not have to mean eating bland cereal every morning. In fact, the more delicious fruits and vegetables we eat, the more fiber we get! When we cook, steam, blend, or chop our high fiber foods, the fiber content remains the same.
It is best to get our fiber from whole foods to ensure we also get the vitamins (like Vitamin C) and other nutrients from these foods. But, if you can’t eat enough carrots, you can eat foods fortified with fiber.
Is There Such Thing As Too Much?
A common theme in nutrition forums is to listen to what your body is trying to tell you. It is also a cornerstone of living well.
If you start eating beans for every meal when your fiber intake was low before, you are going to experience some adverse side effects. Gas, bloating, and constipation can be painful side effects of eating too much fiber, especially if your body is unaccustomed. This is also likely if you are eating over 70 grams of fiber a day!
Remember, the upper limit of our suggested fiber intake is 38 grams!
While only 5% of Americans and most Canadians are only consuming half their daily amount of fiber, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Too much fiber can even interfere with your body’s ability to absorb other important nutrients.
Now there’s some food for thought!
Fiber: The Takeaway
There is a good chance you’re not getting enough of this nutrient in your diet. Luckily, it is easy to increase your fiber intake, and there are many health benefits to doing so!
If you feel bloated, gassy, or constipated after increasing your fiber intake, slow down. Our bodies need to adjust to new foods, and the same occurs with roughage.
Overall, eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds is a good health practice regardless of the fiber content. They are packed with countless nutrients, and allow us to diversify our diet!
So stay regular with your fiber intake today.