Why We Need to Eat More Fiber

We’ve discussed before some of the benefits that we can get from getting more fiber into our diet, but today we are going to dig a little bit deeper into that topic. Fiber is one of those things that we sometimes hear about, but we aren’t quite sure exactly why we need it or what it does for us. So today we are going to break it down so we can see just why we need to start making a little bit more of an effort to add this into our diet.

Why Dietary Fiber is Important

Dietary fiber actually plays a very important role in our diet. The reasoning for this is because most of the dietary fiber that we consume is something that our bodies don’t naturally make, but they need it in order to operate efficiently. Most of us just think that fiber is something that our bodies can’t digest and because of that it helps to clean out our digestive system. While it does do that, that’s not necessarily all fiber does for us. Scientific evidence has shown that our bodies actually contain millions of bacteria that live in our microbiome that actually can digest dietary fiber. The way eating fiber directly affects our health is that it helps to provide nutrients and enzymes to our microbiome that our body can’t directly manufacture. This bacteria then secretes enzymes that break down the fiber as it moves through our body and digest it. Because of this secretion it helps to increase the population of these enzymes and nutrients found in our body. This affects us at a cellular level and can help lead to a longer lifespan with fewer life-threatening diseases and better overall mental health. Another thing that consuming more fiber does for us is that it helps us build a stronger immune system. This helps protect us from diseases, both internally and externally, and it makes our bodies more equipped to fight things off like colds and even helps reduce the inflammation in our arteries.

There was a study that was done with mice that helps put into perspective just how much of an effect eating more fiber can have on us. One group of mice was fed a low fiber and high fat diet (the equivalent of humans eating junk food) while the other group was fed a high fiber diet. Ultimately, what the study found was that the mice that were fed the low fiber and high fat diet had developed shorter bowels and a thinner intestinal wall which led to bacteria getting into their bloodstream and causing chronic inflammation. Meanwhile, the group that was fed a high fiber diet gained less weight, had thicker intestinal walls, aged slower, and were overall healthier. The crazy thing is, when they switched the group that originally had the low fiber diet to a higher fiber diet, all of the damage they experienced was reversed.

Amount of Fiber We Need

One of the hardest things to figure out with our diet is just how much of certain nutrients we need. Generally speaking when it comes to fiber, men should try and consume between 30-38 grams of fiber per day while women should aim for anywhere between 21-25 grams of fiber a day. These numbers are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so the numbers can be adjusted slightly based on how much food you are consuming in a day. On average, only about 95% of Americans actually eat the amount of fiber they are supposed to eat in a day. Most only average out to eating about 16 grams of fiber a day.

Health Benefits of Fiber

By adding more fiber into our diet, we can start to see numerous benefits from increasing your fiber intake. Some of these benefits include:

-Less Inflammation

-Lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels

-Lower blood sugar levels

-Better bowel movements

-Stronger Immune System

-Smaller risk of heart attacks, strokes, and type 2 diabetes

-Longer life span

-Increased insulin sensitivity

-Reduced blood glucose levels

-Increased mineral absorption

Foods Rich in Fiber

Now that we’ve seen all of the benefits that we receive from consuming more fiber, we need to know what foods are good sources of fiber. Getting more fiber in our diet can actually be easier than you think, and it doesn’t just have to be “eating more greens” in order to increase your fiber intake. Some easy foods that we can eat that are great sources of fiber are whole grain bread, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta. These are all fairly common foods that are found in most of our diets, but are usually different varieties than what was listed. All of these foods can easily be swapped in order to make a healthier choice. Even making the switch on a food item such as what potatoes you use can help increase your fiber intake. If you switch your white potato to a sweet potato you instantly increase your fiber intake by double what it was going to be. Some other options that we can include into our diet to help increase our fiber intake is by adding oats to our breakfast in the morning, eating a handful of nuts for a snack, or eating a colorful salad. Other individual food items that we can try to incorporate into our meals to increase our fiber intake include quinoa, broccoli, strawberries, bananas, pears, apples, artichokes, oats, carrots, dried beans, peas, and brussels sprouts.

As you can see, fiber actually provides our body with several benefits. Adding more fiber is something that can help us benefit both on the inside and outside. It all starts with small steps in adding more fiber into your diet, and before you know it you’ll be hitting your daily fiber goal without even having to think about it!

We can help show you what happier and healthier feels like! Schedule a free nutrition consultation today.

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