Fiber- it should be what’s for dinner

Many Americans are not getting enough of this super food- fiber.

It’s considered a superfood that helps you maintain a healthy weight and fights off disease like diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease. It’s also affordable and readily available at grocery stores. What is it? Fiber.

The benefits of fiber are countless. So what exactly is it doing in the body? Fiber makes us feel full and affects the way fat is absorbed in the small intestine and the large intestines are home to billions of bacteria – and fiber is their food.

Cindy Gates, Regional Health Rapid City Hospital Registered Dietitian, says, “Fiber is really good, we need about 25 g to 35 g of fiber a day and the average American is only getting 10 g of fiber a day and we need it to help push everything through our bodies and like I said, keep us full. And there’s also good bacteria in her body and fiber actually helps all that good bacteria in our body.”

So on average, we should be getting in at least around 30 grams of fiber a day with foods like fruit and vegetables, some breakfast cereals, breads and pasta that use whole-grains, beans, lentils and chickpeas, as well as nuts and seeds. You can sneak some of those in as salad or yogurt toppers. Other quick tips are cooking potatoes with the skin on, swapping white bread, pasta and rice for whole meal versions and choosing high-fiber breakfast cereals such as porridge oats. However, Cindy says when choosing whole grains, like bread, make sure the first ingredient is always whole grain.

The fact that fiber is good for your body isn’t earth shattering news, but there is now concern about getting the recommended amount with the popularity of low-carb diets.

Gates says, “A lot of the diets crazes are low-carb diets, so you’re missing out on a lot of fiber.  But whole greens are very healthy for us, they contain a lot of fiber a lot of B vitamins, but what most Americans are actually eating is all that refined grains like white flour, white rice, white bread, white pizza crust. We need a whole grains versions of those to get all the nutrients out of those.”

Cindy also notes that it’s important to remember water intake while increasing fiber intake.

“As we increase your fiber, we also need to make sure we are drinking enough water. You never want to eat too much fiber without adding more water to your diet and most Americans are chronically dehydrated. So if you increase one you have to increase the other,” Gates adds.

The general rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight, in ounces, of water each day. So if you weigh 150 pounds, then you should drink 75 ounces of water a day.

Cindy adds that eating foods in the whole form is best.

If you want to see what your daily intake of fiber looks like per day, click here.

Categories: Wellness Wednesdays