Navigating a healthy diet can seem like a challenge. Keeping track of calories, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals can get a little confusing and overwhelming.
Unfortunately, fiber often gets lost in the mix.
And it’s really too bad because fiber can be like medicine. It’s something that countless doctors and nutritional experts suggest everyone should eat more of.
Although there is no shortage of recommendations about eating it, and the benefits it can provide, data suggests people still aren’t getting enough of it.
An analysis published in 2017 in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine found that roughly 95 percent of the population was falling short of the daily recommended amount of fiber for good health.
Fiber recommendations vary by age and gender, but the average is 28 grams per day. Research suggests people average about half of that.
Fiber is a material in plant-based foods that can’t be broken down and passes through your system undigested. It also acts as food that helps cultivate a healthy gut bacterial population. It is found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and cereals.
What makes fiber so important? Well, it’s been shown to protect against heart disease, diabetes, inflammatory bowel syndrome, excess weight, and more. It can also help remove toxins and waste from the body, reduce cholesterol, and support healthy blood pressure.
It’s easy to skimp on fiber when you’re eating on the run or relying on processed foods to fill your diet.
You can include more fiber in your diet by planning meals, limiting processed food intake, and sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store. Thankfully, most nutrient-dense foods contain fiber, so you don’t have to trade off any nutrition to get it.
Some things to remember when looking to boost fiber intake include:
- Choosing bread, pasta, and cereals made from whole grains
- Eating fruits like apples and oranges instead of drinking fruit juice
- Including vegetables with every meal
- Snacking on foods like nuts and popcorn
Try to increase fiber intake slowly and incrementally. Going too fast can lead to bloating, gas, and discomfort, which can turn many people off from eating more fiber. But you should be able to avoid these issues if intake is increased gradually.