Not Enough Fiber On Modern Diets

Fiber is very important for preventing heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, intestinal inflammation, and constipation. It’s also good for digestion and can lower cholesterol.

In America dietary fiber consumption is decreasing yearly, as this study shows:

On average Americans only get about 15 grams of fiber per day. The recommended amount, according to the American Heart Association, is 31.5 grams. That means most people are getting less than half of the recommended amount.

Nutrition Education

In America, and certainly in other parts of the world too, a lot of people don’t know which foods contain fiber and which ones don’t.

A steak with white rice and French fries has zero fiber.

Salmon with white pasta contains no fiber.

Fiber is only found in plants. There is no fiber in meat, dairy or eggs, and little or no fiber in junk food.

Learning about nutrition helps us to make better food choices and understand exactly what we are eating.

Why We Need Fiber 

Fiber cleans your colon and makes your intestines move faster. This helps to prevent the intestines getting clogged, removing parasites and bacteria. This prevents inflammation and colon cancer.

Fiber helps keep you regular. This reduces the chances of constipation by supporting regular bowel moments.

Prevent strokes – strokes are the second most common cause of death worldwide.

strokes are the second most common cause of death worldwide

Source here

Different studies have shown that seven grams of fiber per day was associated with a 7% reduction in stroke risk. If you increase the grams of fiber in your diet more, you continue to lower the chances of stroke.

Diabetes Type 2 – fiber slows the rate that sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. Fruit contains fiber which slows the rate at which fructose (the naturally-occurring sugar in fruit) is absorbed. This helps to reduce the chances of developing diabetes type 2.

High Fiber Foods = Healthy Food

To have a high fiber diet you need to eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables, less meat and fish, and avoid processed food. Following these guidelines will result in a healthy, higher fiber diet.

Foods Without Fiber

Processed food – most of the food on the shelves in supermarkets don’t contain any fiber. Food without fiber has a longer life shelf which makes these products more profitable for food companies.

White rice, plain white pasta, and crackers – in all these grains, fiber has been removed along with essential fatty acids. Alternative: Eat more brown, wild, and red rice.

Most canned or well-cooked vegetables and fruits without skins or seeds. Alternative: Eat whole fruits and raw/boiled/steamed vegetables

Tofu

Fruit and vegetable juice with little or no pulp. Juicing removes most of the fiber. Alternative: Make your own smoothies with whole fruits and veggies to keep all the fiber.

Dairy – milk, yogurt, cheese

Animal-based foods – meat, fish, seafood, eggs

Refined Carbs – cookies, candies, chocolates, breakfast cereals, pringles, soft drinks

How can You add More Fiber to Your Diet?

First and foremost, a very important note! We need fiber in our diets, but several studies have shown that adding isolate fiber in the form of fiber supplements does not really provide all the benefits of fiber.

Why? Because when you eat whole foods containing fiber, like fruit, for example, you not only get fiber, but you also get other nutrients like minerals and vitamins.

“Fiber is but one component of plant food, and to neglect the other components – be they proteins, lipids, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, or the secondary metabolites – is to seriously limit our understanding.”

source M Eastwood, D Kritchevsky. Dietary fiber: how did we get where we are? Annu Rev Nutr. 2005;25:1-8.

So, remember all the other nutrients present in whole food and don’t go and buy supplements or any other form of isolate fiber powder or pills. Instead, get whole fruits or vegetables that are naturally high in fiber.

  1. Avoid processed foods – eat more whole foods

Processed foods don’t have any fiber because removing the fiber serves the goals of the food manufacturing companies.

Foods without fiber:

  • Have a longer shelf life.
  • Are faster to eat and digest – you can eat more in shorter time
  • Are easier to freeze so they can be shipped worldwide
  • Fiber makes you feel full, so by cutting the fiber you feel like eating more.

2. Eating raw/boiled/steamed fruit and vegetables

Enjoy a nice piece of fruit or prepare yourself some delicious salad vegetables without pealing.

I do love drinking juices, but remember juicing removes all the fiber of vegetables and fruit.

If you prefer to drink, you can blend raw fruits and vegetables and make a healthy and delicious smoothie that are naturally high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

3. Brown Rice – brown rice is not the same as white rice. Brown rice has vitamins, protein, good fats and fiber. While white rice has virtually no nutritional value and no fiber.

4. Legumes – beans, peas and lentils are all high in fiber.

5. Nuts – chia seeds, flaxseeds, squash and pumpkin seeds, almonds, and sunflower seeds are all good sources of fiber.

One Week Simple Challenge

I have a simple challenge for you! For one week have fruit for breakfast. Pick the amount of fruit you need to start the day. If you can, leave the skin on to get even more fiber in your diet.

If you can, snack on fruit and raw vegetables during the day too. The more you can eat the better!

I always have a raw salad for my lunch. I have raw vegetables with a simple olive oil dressing mixed with some nuts and seeds. Delicious!

Raw salads are high in fiber, easy to digest and yet will make you feel full. They also give you plenty of energy but without making you feel sleepy or bloated afterward.

If you combine fruit for breakfast with a raw salad for lunch, the increased fiber will clean your gut and end the bloating that most of us live with day after day. You will also have more energy, mental focus, and feel happier.

Try this challenge for yourself and experience the benefits of fiber. Let me know how you get on and send me your feedback.

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About Author

Diogo has lived and worked in many places around the world including Madrid, Berlin, São Vicente (Cape Verde), Indonesia and Macau. Traveling, he says, is the best way to learn about himself and the people he has met along the way. With his degree in IT, and after seven years working as a web programmer, Diogo has stepped out of his comfort zone and used the experiences he gained during his travels to move into web design, SEO, and content creation. He loves to tell stories and inspire people to follow their dreams, but he knows that to do this effectively, he must first live those stories himself first  

"There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self"

Aldous Huxley

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