We all have heard how we need fiber in our diet, that is a given. But one question I get asked a lot is, “What foods can I eat that will give me an adequate amount of daily fiber?”
First, let’s go back to the basics...
Dietary fiber is basically the undigested carbohydrates that are in a large variety of plant carbohydrates. With a high fiber diet we can help lower our cholesterol, control blood sugar and prevent constipation. In a nutshell, eating more fiber allows us to have a healthy colon and regular bowel movements.
How much fiber should you be consuming?
The Institute of Medicine’s minimum recommended fiber intake is about 30 grams per day. However, did you know that most Americans consume about 15 grams of fiber per day, yikes! Yep, that’s half the recommended minimum requirement.
Where are some areas that I can get fiber naturally?
Good sources of fiber include beans, vegetables, whole grains and fruits. There are two different types of fiber that we need to consume: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is found in foods such as beans, peas, oat bran, fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fiber is in whole grains, wheat bran, fruit skins and peels, nuts, seeds, vegetables and beans.
We know that not all foods are created equal. Certain foods allow us to more easily reach this, for some, “hefty” fiber goal. But truly, the goal is not as hard to achieve as one might think.
For those who lack fiber greatly, a few words of caution is to start adding fiber in slowly over a 2 to 3 week timeframe. This will help your gastrointestinal (GI) tract better adapt to the added bulk without excess gas and bloating. In addition, to help with digestion, properly staying hydrated throughout the day with about half your body weight in ounces in water, is a good rule of thumb to abide by.
So, what would a typical day look like that is fiber rich?
Below is an example of one of my client’s intake of breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. With this one-day food journal, keep in mind, that as individuals we all don’t need to be consuming the same foods. We each have different genetic make-up, stresses, toxins and lifestyle choices that have an impact on our body’s ability to break down food. Listening to your body for possible signs and symptoms (S&S) it might be giving you is important. Some of these S&S could be bloating, excess gas or borborygmi (rumbling in the GI tract), to name a few. By listening it allows us to piece together “what’s going on in there,” thus improving your health.
It’s not only the type of foods you are eating that is important, but also what your body is able to do with the food and nutrients you eat.
Here is an example of a one-day food journal from a client of mine.
Breakfast: Smoothie ~ 15 g of fiber
Lunch: Salad ~ 15 g of fiber
Snack: Garlic hummus w/ dipped broccoli & side of almonds ~ 9 g of fiber
Dinner: Salmon, sweet potato, and quinoa ~ 8 g of fiber
Total fiber for the day ~ 47 grams
This one-day food journal is from a wife and a mother of three who is also working full-time. She easily attained the Institute of Medicine’s minimum daily fiber requirement, and you can too. It's totally doable!
So, where do you stack up? When consuming whole foods only, how much fiber are you getting in daily?
I'd love to hear your thoughts and creative food ideas below.
PS - Wanting new recipe ideas? Follow me on Pinterest for some yummy and creative recipe ideas.
Hello, my name is Stacy Peterson, Functional Nutritionist and Holistic Health, Wellness and Strength & Conditioning Coach with a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine practicing whole-foods nutrition and physical training to individuals around the globe.
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