Fiber. It’s not the fanciest of all the things the food world has to offer nowadays.
Contained in mostly grains, vegetables, legumes, fruit, nuts, and seeds, we already know that it should play some kind of role in a well-balanced diet.
But have you ever asked yourself if you get enough of it?
Most people in the UK do not eat enough fiber.
Of the recommended average intake of 30 grams per day, women only have an average daily intake of 17 grams of fiber.
Men throughout the UK reach an average daily intake of 20 grams of fiber.
And the biggest threat to high-fiber diets… the ever-growing popularity of low carb and keto diets that often cause more harm than good to our bodies.
What do we conclude from this?
Generally, people don’t really worry about fiber.
But what if I told you that fiber can prevent you from the onset of diseases and even make you live longer?
Stay with me and I will show you why fiber is so important for us and how to easily include it into our diets!
So, what is fiber?
Fiber is a term for plant-based carbohydrates that cannot be completely broken down by human digestive enzymes.
Back in the day, fiber was thought to be completely indigestible.
Today, we know better.
Unlike carbohydrates, such as sugar and starch, fiber is not digested in the small intestine but eventually finds its way into the large intestine and colon.
There it will serve as food for millions of gut bacteria, resulting in a fermenting process which has a whole lot of effects throughout our bodies.
And believe me, those are good effects.
Ok, but does fiber really matter that much?
The answer to that question is YES!
This January, a ground-breaking paper was published in the Lancet Medical Journal analyzing the role of dietary fiber in our daily diet.
It is subject for the reconstruction of the nutrition guidelines given by the World Health Organization and the results speak for themselves:
If we shifted 1000 people from a low-fiber diet (15g) to a high-fiber diet (25-30g), then we could prevent 13 deaths and 6 cases of heart disease.
In comparison to the group consuming a low-fiber diet, individuals consuming the high-fiber diet achieved lower weight outcomes as well as showed lower levels and rates of the following:
- Bowel cancer
- Blood pressure
- Blood Cholesterol
The overall result: The more fiber people ate, the better their health outcomes!
And now it’s your turn!
Tips to increase the amount of fiber in your diet
- Use breakfast cereal that is high in fiber, such as shredded whole wheat and Weetabix, or prepare a porridge out of oats and apple slices (a good source of iron and fiber)
- Switch to whole meal or granary breads and choose wholegrains like whole wheat pasta, bulgur wheat, quinoa or brown rice
- In the mood for potatoes? Next time prepare them with their skin on, such as baked potatoes or boiled new potatoes
- Add legumes like beans, lentils, chick peas to your salads, curries, and stews (you may also consider adding nuts and seeds). That does not only make your dish higher in fiber but also provides it with a perfect source of plant-based protein.
- Vegetables: High in fiber and vitamins! Always include them in your meals either as a side dish or added into sauces, stews, soups, and curries.
- For desert and snacks have some fresh fruit with their skin on, dried fruit, veggie sticks, whole wheat crackers, nuts, or seeds.
A 1-Day High-Fiber Meal Plan
- 2 thick slices of whole-meal toasted bread (7g)
- topped with ½ avocado (4.5g) and a small sliced tomato (0.7g)
= 12.2 grams of fiber in total.
- A large baked potato with the skin on (2.6g)
- with a 200g portion of beans in tomato sauce (if not self-made, use salt-reduced and fat-reduced option) (9.8g)
= 12.4 grams of fiber in total.
Desert or Snack:
- Apple (1.2g)
- Mixed vegetable curry cooked with onions and spices (3.3g)
- brown or wholegrain rice (1.2g)
= 4.5 grams of fiber in total
Desert or Snack:
- Natural yoghurt with 5 strawberries and a hand-full of almonds (1.7g)
Total 32 grams of fiber.
If you’re following a keto diet then some of these foods will be off the menu for you.
There’s a supplement called psyllium husk which is pretty much pure fiber you may want to checkout!