The general recommendation for the amount of fiber that one should consume in his/her daily diet can vary depending on one’s caloric intake and for the most part are the same regardless of age, gender, and weight. The US Department of Agriculture suggests 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed, which would be 25 – 30 grams for the 2,000 – 2,500 calorie diet that we see on most nutrition labels. If you aren’t sure of your current fiber intake, it might not be enough – studies show that the average adult in the US consumes about 15 grams per day. Inadequate intake can be largely attributed to the typical standards of American diets, which include more animal proteins and processed foods and fewer whole grains, fresh fruit, and vegetables.
Fiber comes from plant cells and actually is not digested or absorbed into the body. There are two forms of fiber, soluble and insoluble, and different amounts of each are found in various plant-based sources. Soluble fiber, which dissolves in water, acts as a water absorbent during digestion to help bulk up stool and guard against constipation and diarrhea. Good choices for sources rich in soluble fiber would be oatmeal, nuts, beans, apples, and blueberries. Insoluble fiber remains unchanged as it passes through the digestive tract, promoting movement of other food through the digestive system and helping to regulate bowel movements. Good choices for insoluble fiber sources would be whole grain bread and rice, oats, and fruit peels. More than just a way to keep you “regular,” fiber has many health benefits. Maintaining bowel health with fiber rich foods also helps decrease the risk of developing hemorrhoids and can prevent against colorectal cancer (colon, bowel, or rectum cancer). Fiber is known to help with weight loss and weight control. Since it helps to manage digestion it can help one feel full and ward of hunger without adding many calories. Slowing digestion and preventing blood sugar spikes, fiber helps with blood sugar control and can protect against diabetes, kidney stones, and gallstones. Diets high in fiber have also been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, risk of heart disease and stroke.
The long list of health benefits should be reason enough to want to increase your fiber intake if you aren’t getting enough already. Increase fiber intake slowly over the course of a couple weeks to give the body ample time to adjust, choosing all-natural foods as the best source. If using a supplement, you can’t go wrong with plant-based Superfood Protein, made from natural whole food organic ingredients with no artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, dyes, additives, or preservatives and providing 2 grams of fiber and only 110 calories per serving. Below are some of the healthy and delicious ways to increase fiber intake. Give more value to the most important meal of the day and start your day on the right foot with a high fiber breakfast. If you like cereal, be sure to choose one made with whole grain or bran. Add a couple scoops of Superfood Protein to make your meal more complete such as in Strawberry Banana Bran Flakes. Be sure that you are eating enough fresh fruits and raw vegetables in your meals as well as snacks. Not only are they a great source of fiber, and vitamins and minerals, but they taste delicious! Throw some in a blender along with a plant-based protein supplement like Superfood Protein for a refreshing snack morning, noon, or night. Check out our recipe page for some easy, on-the-go smoothie ideas. Incorporate legumes and beans to add some fiber and variety to your diet, add them into your salads and soups or substitute a high calorie, high carb side dish with a serving or two. Kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and lentils are a great plant-based source of fiber – one ½ cup serving of the beans provides as much as 7 – 8 grams of fiber while a ½ cup serving of lentils has 5 grams. Whenever you are enjoying your fiber filled snacks don’t forget to wash them down with plenty of water. Staying hydrated throughout the day is always important, but fiber works its magic even more when it absorbs water. Start by replacing any soft drinks or energy drinks with plain H2O.