From chewable supplements to powders, cereals and cookies, fiber products have taken over every aisle of the grocery store. People today are very health-conscious, and you need only turn on the television to see a ton of companies boasting their nutritional fiber-enriched snacks. The public is well aware that they need a considerable dose of fiber each day to maintain optimal health.
But how much fiber do you really need?
The fact is, fiber comes in many forms, but most people still don't get the recommended amount. The average adult's fiber intake is 15 grams per day, while nutritionists say women should consume 25 grams and men 38 grams. This number is alarmingly low, making education about fiber-dense foods all the more important.
Before fiber shakes and snacks swept the nation, folks were advised to take in a sizable amount of vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and other whole foods that are high in nutritional value but free of unneeded artificial substances. In reality, most people might have one serving of vegetables per day, or maybe they'll grab a handful of nuts as a midday snack. But in order to satisfy the 25-38 grams needed to reap its incredible health-boosting power, Americans have to break the mainstream habit of reaching for chips, candy, and other quick refreshments every time they are hungry. While we can seek out fiber in many other forms today, natural foods from plants remain the best option for gaining the necessary daily serving.
The Health Benefits of Fiber
A diet high in fiber offers a number of health benefits known to ward off common diseases and prolong your life. For many Americans, seeking out fiber is a means of regulating their gastrointestinal system, giving it the stigma that it is simply a digestion aid. However, soluble and insoluble fibers offer the following advantages for your overall well-being:
- Prevents heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and obesity
- Boosts immunities
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Gives the feeling of fullness without high caloric intake
- Lowers cholesterol
- Treats constipation, hemorrhoids, and IBS
- Decreases risk for diverticulitis
How to Get More Fiber in Your Diet
Many otherwise healthy eaters still struggle to achieve the ideal amount of fiber in their diets. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can alter your mealtime habits without inconveniencing yourself in the process. Most people who are fiber deprived don't realize there are many fiber-rich alternatives to the foods they already eat. In other cases, you can make a few conscious changes in your nutrition to meet your daily goal.
- For breakfast, eat a whole grain cereal. There are tons of wheat and oat varieties of your favorite brands, and best of all, many products still provide something to satisfy your sweet tooth. Try a box with berries, nuts, or raisins.
- Instead of drinking juice, eat the actual fruit, which boasts double the fiber.
- When you choose a sandwich for lunch, use whole wheat bread. Making a few subtle changes to your regular routine, like forgoing white bread, can help you top off your daily fiber requirement.
- Incorporate beans into your salads, soups, stews, chili, and other potluck dishes. This is a quick and easy way to keep your favorite meals in rotation while adding in additional fiber.
- Eat raspberries as a midday snack, or add them to your yogurt or cereal. Among all fruits, they pack the most fiber per cup.
- Buy whole wheat spaghetti. A staple in many American households, pasta is quick and easy to make. But most people fail to realize that almost every shape and size can be found in fiber-rich whole wheat, which many say tastes just as great.
- Don't peel your fruits and veggies. Experts claim that much of the fiber can be found in the rind, so resist this minor habit.
- Embrace vegetables as a snack time alternative. If you don't want to give up your other beloved snacks, remember that cookies and crackers also come in fiber-enriched varieties. While whole foods tend to pack more nutrition, any fiber is good fiber.