Dietary Fiber is an important nutrient that is necessary in everyday diets. The recommended intake of total fiber is roughly 25g/d – 38g/d depending on age and gender, according to the Dietary Reference Intakes. However, on average most people within the United States eat half the recommended amount of dietary fiber per day. Low or inconsistent dietary fiber intake can lead to an array of issues and result in higher risk of certain chronic diseases. Have you checked your fiber intake lately – are you making sure your diet is balanced?
What is Fiber?
There are many definitions of fiber out there, such as the little tiny structures that are sewn together to make that lovely blouse you’re wearing! But no, no we’re not talking about the fiber that make a piece of cloth. We’re talking about dietary fiber! Dietary fibers are nondigestible carbohydrates that come from plant sources. If their nondigestible, why do we eat them? Great question. Fiber is not digested in the small intestine, but it is used for many physiological purposes in the large intestine! For example, bacteria that make up our gut biome use fiber as food, which causes fermentation in our large intestine. No, they’re not making beer down there! The bi-product of lower intestine fermentation results in vitamins and minerals our body uses for everyday processes, such as many of the B vitamins and vitamin K!
What are the benefits of consuming adequate fiber?
As we just mentioned, one of the many benefits of consuming adequate amounts of fiber in a regular diet is that it helps feed those little critters living in our lower digestive tract. But that’s not the only benefit to eating these nondigestible fibers! Consuming adequate fiber helps create consistent bowel movements. Has your doctor ever suggested taking a fiber supplement to help relieve constipation? That’s because fiber that isn’t used by our gut bacteria help contribute to regular bowel movements! That might be T.M.I., but remember that’s nature and if you need a little extra help try adding a few extra plants in your diet! Healthy bowel movements and vitamins are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of healthy fiber intakes. Trust us, it’s worth adding in regularly.
What are good sources of fiber?
Plants are our friends in terms of getting adequate fiber. There are lots of ways to consume good food sources of fibers. As we previously mentioned, supplements can be one way. However, if you regularly read the G-Plans blog, we always suggest the best sources of anything always come from our food. So what foods are rich in dietary fiber?
- Legumes are a wonderful source of fiber. In fact, you may have heard a parent or grandparent sing you a lovely song about how great that are: “Beans, beans, the magical fruit. The more you eat the more you toot. Beans, beans, good for your heart. The more you eat the more you…..” Well you get it! While beans aren’t a fruit as the song implies, the dietary fiber can cause gas and bloating, which is just that lower gut bacteria fermenting!
- Fruits & Vegetables are another excellent and natural source of fiber, even more so when the skins are being eaten! Fruits and vegetables, as we all know are great foods to include in a regular diet for a variety of reasons. Being a great source of fiber is just one more reason to add them to your grocery list!
- Whole Grains are yet another wonderful way to up your fiber. Swapping whole grain bread options or adding things like chia or flax seeds to your smoothie in the morning are easy ways to increase your daily fiber intake without noticing too much of a flavor difference. Whole grains are easy to add into any main meal, and often most of us love the addition of grains throughout the day!
Regular fiber intake helps keep our digestive system running at its best, and most certainly can help us feel our best as well. Not sure how to begin increasing your daily fiber? Start by adding in some fruit or vegetables throughout the day and take notice of the difference! Unsure of portion sizes? Take the metabolic quiz today to find your ideal meal plan today!