According to the American Society of Nutrition, although fiber is a champion of nutrients, and yet, most people aren’t including enough of it in their diet.
A 2017 study in the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine reported that a big majority, nearly 95% of adults and children, aren’t eating enough fiber to meet their daily fiber needs.
The benefits of fiber
As a certified nutritionist, I always explain to people that dietary fiber is an essential power nutrient, and they should aim to get it from foods and not from supplements.
There’s also evidence about fiber’s benefits extending beyond any particular ailment:
Consuming more of it may reduce people’s mortality rate. Even Blue Zones’ residents (Blue zone comprises places in the world where people live the longest) incorporate fiber in their diet as a staple nutrient, particularly in foods like black chickpeas, beans, and lentils.
As per a National Institutes of Health study, people who were eating higher amounts of fiber, especially from grains, had a considerably reduced risk of dying over a nine-year period than those who consumed lower amounts of fiber.
About 388,000 individuals participated in the said analysis who were part of a larger NIH-AARP diet and health study and who were between ages fifty and seventy-one years old when the study began.
How much fiber should you be eating?
The USDA’s latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2020 to 2025) recommends fourteen grams of fiber for intake of every 1,000 calories.
Note: The number of calories we need a day varies depending on our gender, age, weight, and activity level. The most common number is 2,000 calories per day.
The dietary fiber intake among a big majority of Americans falls short of this recommendation, which generally ranges between roughly sixteen to 19 grams per day.
How to increase your fiber intake
Interestingly, your body doesn’t break down fiber. Instead, fiber passes through your body undigested, regulating the body’s use of sugars and keeping hunger and blood sugar in check.
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, fiber comes in two types: Soluble fiber, the kind that helps lower glucose levels as well as lower blood cholesterol, and insoluble fiber, which helps food move through your digestive system, improving regularity and preventing constipation.
Whereas it’s easy to take a fiber supplement, but then you’ll end up missing out on all the other important nutrients, including vitamins and minerals that whole foods offer.
Following are the five fiber-rich foods that you can incorporate into your diet to live a longer, healthier life, along with easy ways to enjoy them:
Fiber: Ten grams per cup
Besides their high fiber content, avocados are packed with healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, which are associated with improving heart health.
Avocados are so versatile. Their use goes beyond basic dishes like sandwiches. I usually add some to my smoothies, which besides being healthy, create a thick, creamy texture. Or I’ll smear it generously on toasted bread in place of mayonnaise.
Fiber: Eight grams per cup
In addition to fiber, raspberries also offer a good amount of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Moreover, being lower on the glycemic index, they won’t spike your blood sugar level.
A 2017 research study suggested that eating fresh fruit daily, particularly raspberries, may reduce your chances of developing diabetes by twelve percent.
You can eat a handful in between your main meals as a quick snack or get creative or add them to your salads for some tartness. And to satisfy your sweet tooth, nothing beats having plain yogurt topped with raspberries and crunchy oats.
Fiber: Twenty-one grams per cup
Lentils provide an excellent amount of fiber per serving, and they’re also a rich source of protein as well (about forty-seven grams in a cup), making them a go-to for filling meals.
Research found that a daily intake of 150 grams of lentils can help improve blood pressure, blood lipid levels, and inflammation.
Lentils are delicious in a hearty stew or soup. They pair just as nicely as a protein source with rice or in tacos and salads. For those who want to cut back on their meat consumption, they can make some lentil patties for lunch or dinner.
Fiber: Eight grams per cup
Oats are a gluten-free whole grain that has fiber and other essential nutrients, including iron, zinc, and magnesium. Studies have found oats may also help you control your cholesterol levels, heart health, blood sugar, and even your weight,
Fiber: Ten grams per ounce
Just a small amount of chia seeds is chock-full of plenty of health benefits. They’re also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been associated with improvements in both heart and brain health.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, the USA, obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me, age is just a number!”