We all have that one friend who is obsessed with their fiber intake. They’re always telling you about how regular they are and how important fiber is for you – “Hey, you should eat more fiber!”
You might think that, if you eat more fiber, you’ll walk around passing gas all day because you ate an excessive amount of fiber in the previous meal. However, that’s not necessarily so. Understanding how much fiber you need can prevent that from happening.
Learn what fiber is, why it’s important, and how much is enough. Knowing these facts will benefit you. Acting on these facts to eat more fiber will strengthen your health.
What is Fiber?
You see it on the backs of your food packages, but what is fiber really? Is it good for you?
To put it simply, fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate. Yep, that’s right – a carb. Don’t stress though, this is a good carbohydrate – a really good one at that.
Fiber comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble (in water) depending on how they react with hydration. Foods like oatmeal and other grains generally contain both, while many fruits contain only soluble fiber (this is why prunes do what they do).
Why is Fiber Important?
Fiber is important not only because it keeps you regular, but also because it helps to lower inflammation. This is the most important reason that you may want to consider adding more fiber to your diet.
Many of our chronic diseases are the result of inflammation, and if fiber can help to limit this inflammation, you have a secret cure for staying healthy.
This is why many doctors recommend eating oats and fruit in the morning. It’s great for reducing inflammation and supporting good general health.
Black adults consume significantly less fiber compared with other race/ethnic groups. Lower family income and living at less than 131% of poverty were associated with lower fiber intakes among adults. Federal and local government policies should encourage consumption of all fruits and vegetables.
How Much Fiber Do You Need?
Fiber intake is important, and recent research shows more and more how crucial it is for us.
In trying to figure out how much you need, an important aspect to consider is that since fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate, each gram you ingest lowers your net carb count by an equal gram.
That means if you eat a slice of bread that has 10 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber, you are really only ingesting 7 grams of total carbs. For this reason, many people consider a high-fiber diet to be essential for health and general weight maintenance.
For most people, the dietary guideline for fiber is about 35-40 grams/day (which very few Americans hit). This is about the equivalent of eating 10 apples. Of course, no one is going to eat that many apples, but having a balanced diet with plenty of dense grains, fruit, and vegetables will help you to hit a healthy daily intake of fiber.
Signs that you’re not eating enough fiber
You constantly feel bloated. Bloating is caused by gas and certain foods. These include processed foods, alcohol, dairy and carbonated beverages to name a few. Fiber helps to offset bad dietary choices by eliminating them from your body.
You are constipated or have irregularity in your bowel movements. Fiber helps to eliminate stools and toxins from your body which means your colon is working efficiently. If you are constipated this means your fiber intake is too low. If you have a healthy colon, you will have regular, frequent bowel movements.
You are gaining more weight. Fiber helps you to regulate your blood sugar and bind the starches in your body. It also helps you to manage your weight because carbs are broken down easier when enough fiber is in your body. It also helps you maintain a healthy blood sugar so you can avoid diseases like diabetes.
You have little energy. If you are only eating protein and fat, it can cause you to feel weak or fatigued. You also need carbohydrates to keep your body running. Fiber balances out your diet by giving you energy throughout the day, but also eliminates waste from your body versus foods that are high in fat.
Your blood pressure increases. When you eat a diet rich in fiber, it can help to reduce your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is out of whack, some signs include headaches, chest pain and tiredness among others. If others in your family have a history of hypertension, be proactive in your fiber intake to help you prevent this from happening to you.
You can easily fix all these issues just by increasing your daily fiber intake.
These foods are all healthy sources fiber:
- Brown rice
- Whole grain bread
- Chia seeds
- Brussels sprouts
- Most other fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains
Studies suggest that increasing your dietary fiber intake — especially cereal fiber — is associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and all cancers.
It is our responsibility to be mindful of enough fiber in our diet. Adequate fiber intake affects all the systems in our body, including your skin, gallbladder, heart, and immunity. But fiber deficiency can have a detrimental effect on our health and wellness. It should be our daily goal to rid our bodies of dis-ease.
Eat smart and eat fiber rich – it’s great for you!