Dietary fiber is incredibly important for a number of reasons. The recommended daily amount of fiber is 14 grams per 1000 calories, which translates to about 25-36 grams/day for most adults. Sources of dietary fiber include vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, grains. A statement I hear often is: "But I already eat plenty of fruits and vegetables! There’s no way I need more fiber." Some individuals can actually benefit from even more in the form of food or supplements. This is determined on a person to person basis.
Importance of fiber:
-Encourages regular bowel movements (the obvious one)
-Regulates/improves blood sugar. (which in turn improves mood)
-Helps with elimination of excess hormones, which is essential in maintaining a healthy hormone balance.
-Improves cholesterol levels
Increased fiber intake is associated with decreased risk of:
-Coronary heart disease
More fun facts:
-High fiber intake is associated with a 24 to 38 percent reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke compared with low fiber intake. Studies showed this to be dose dependent- increased fiber intake was associated with a greater reduction in coronary heart disease.
-Soluble fiber can help regulate bowel movements- meaning it can actually help some folks with constipation AND diarrhea or folks who go back and forth between the two. This can be true even for patients who already eat a diet rich in whole foods and whole grains. Treating IBS with fiber is controversial so always check in with your doctor’s position on this.
Wanting to add more fiber into your diet? Here's some ideas:
-There will be higher fiber in more complex carbohydrates than simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates meaning things like white breads, white rice, standard pasta. To get more fiber through your grains reach for more complex carbs - for example: whole grain vs white bread; brown rice vs white rice; whole wheat pasta vs white pasta. Reaching for carbohydrates higher in fiber helps to regulate blood sugar, preventing insulin resistance. Improving blood sugar can also improve mood!
-Ever heard of the Life Changing Loaf of Bread? This is a healthy alternative to standard bread and is packed with nuts, seeds, and oats leaving you with a high protein, high fiber, high omega meal or snack. Toast it up and serve it with butter (or butter alternative), jam, honey, yogurt, avocado. Check out the recipe here: https://www.mynewroots.org/site/2013/02/the-life-changing-loaf-of-bread/
-Have a smoothie! Adding tons of fruits and veggies into your diet can be hard. A smoothie is an easy way to do this. For extra fiber, you can even add some seeds (chia, flax, hemp) to your smoothie as well.
-Oats/ oatmeal is a great source of fiber! Add in some extra berries, nuts, and seeds for even more!
-Have vegetables with every meal.