If you haven’t heard by now, fiber is an extremely important part of a healthy diet. And, unfortunately, most Americans aren’t getting enough. On average, Americans consume only 5 to 10 grams of fiber a day…15 to 20 grams less than the 25 grams recommended by the FDA. But why is fiber so important?
- Fiber helps stabilize energy and sugar levels. Because fiber slows digestion, it also helps to slow absorption of sugars into the bloodstream. Soluble fiber, specifically, delays the absorption of sugars and starch by dragging partly digested food through the intestine. This keeps your blood sugar, insulin and energy levels more stable throughout the day.
- Fiber fills you up. Fiber is a bulking agent that stays in the stomach longer, providing a greater sense of satisfaction between meals. For instance, a slice of 100 percent whole grain bread is more filling than two slices of white bread. Additionally, because fiber needs to be chewed thoroughly, it slows down the eating process. This helps prevent overeating: The brain has time to recognize that the stomach is full, which helps us eat less.
- Fiber facilitates weight loss and maintenance. Fiber moves fat through our digestive system faster so that absorption is significantly reduced.
- Fiber can reduce risk of disease. Soluble fiber helps lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. This, in turn, reduces the risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease.
- Fiber helps maintain regularity. Fiber increases the movement of food through the digestive system. While it increases bulk (weight and size), it is also a natural stool softener, which facilitates bowel movement. As a result, fiber promotes regularity and helps avoid or eliminate constipation, hard stools, abdominal pain and “sluggish bowel” syndrome.
Simply put, the more whole vegetables, whole fruit and whole grains that you eat, the better. All three types of naturally fibrous foods lose fiber content when processed. As a result, focus on veggies, fruit and grains in their most natural, least processed form. In order to get the recommended intake, aim to get an average of 2 grams of fiber per 100 calories that you ingest. If getting your 25 to 35 grams is a challenge, you can always supplement with high-fiber foods, such as Gnu Flavor and Fiber Bars.
Are you getting enough fiber in your diet?
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