Fiber

Are you getting your fiber?? The recommended daily target for fiber in adults is 25-30 grams, but according to national data, most adults are only getting about 16 grams daily. That’s the difference of about 2-3 medium apples, 5-6 cups of chopped broccoli, or just one cup of black beans daily, for reference.

So, what are we missing out on? There are two types of dietary fiber. “Soluble” fiber helps to bind the components of cholesterol in the gut, preventing reabsorption, which may help reduce your “bad” cholesterol (LDL). This type of fiber also helps to slow the pace of digestion, reducing how quickly your blood sugar rises when you eat carbohydrate foods (aka helps with blood sugar control). “Insoluble” fiber helps stimulate your gut muscles to contract and move materials through at a healthy rate. All fiber helps with feeling of fullness (“satiety”). And although we can’t technically digest fiber, our gut bacteria can!3 It helps encourage healthy growth and maintenance of crucial gut bacteria.

Where can you find fiber? That’s the easy part. Any vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, or other plant-based food will contain fiber. Some are denser than others (take a poke around the USDA nutrient database for some numbers on your favorite foods).

How can I get enough? DON’T SKIP YOUR PLANTS! Learn to love those suckers. Your body loves them and you should too. Use your balanced plate at each meal and include plant-based foods in those categories as often as you can. Remember that snacks are a great place for plants too. NOTE: For some people who have gut problems, fiber can make matters worse. Always discuss major dietary changes with your doctor or dietitian to make sure those changes are appropriate for you.

 

 Resources
1) Hoy MK, Goldman JD. Fiber intake of the U.S. population: What We Eat in America, NHANES 2009-2010. Food Surveys Research Group Dietary Data Brief No. 12. September 2014. 

2) US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Legacy. Version Current:  April 2018.  Internet:

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list?home=true

3) Slavin J. Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients. 2013;5(4):1417–1435. Published 2013 Apr 22. doi:10.3390/nu5041417