The Other F-Word: Fiber
How much fiber have you had today?
We worry so much about getting enough protein everyday, but what about fiber? Fiber is essential for a healthy diet with benefits that go beyond just helping us poo. Fiber helps to lower cholesterol levels, control blood sugar, and aids us in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Most Americans, however, are not getting enough of fiber. Only an estimated 3% of us meet the daily requirements! With the rise in high protein diets (and misguided fear of fruit & carbohydrates), meat is crowding out space on our plates for fiber-rich foods. No wonder so many relatively healthy, active people are suffering from digestive distress and microbiome issues. We need more fiber in our lives.
So how much do we actually need? According to The Institute of Medicine, men under 50 should consume about 38 grams and women 25 grams of fiber each day. Adults over 50 require less with only 30 grams for men and 21 grams for women.
What are fiber-rich foods?
· Beans and legumes (split peas especially are high)
· Whole grains (whole grain/wheat bread, pasta)
· Oatmeal and oats
· Veggies (all of them)
· Fruit (especially berries)
What if you follow a paleo or keto diet? No fear. There are plenty of ways to sneak in more fiber without having to eat legumes or more fruit than you are comfortable consuming.
· Seeds – Add flaxseeds or flaxseed meal to your smoothies and yogurt. You can also bread chicken or fish with flaxseeds. Add chia seeds to really anything liquid. They will thicken it up and become gel-like. Great for a pudding texture.
· Cauliflower and broccoli– roasted, pureed, sautéed or made as rice both of these veggies can be added to almost any dish.
· Avocado – healthy fat and fiber? Win win. These little guys pack in 6.7 grams of fiber per half.
Artichokes – throw on a salad or butternut squash pasta to up the fiber content. This veggie packs more fiber than any other vegetable at over 10g per medium size artichoke.