Fiber is found abundantly in fruits, veggies, and grains. It is a part of these plant foods that are indigestible for our bodies, and that makes it a great cleaning agent for our insides. Regular consumption of fiber-rich foods helps regulate blood sugar levels, as well as lower cholesterol. It may also play a role in preventing intestinal cancer. And, then some studies show that a high-fiber diet can reduce the likelihood of hypertension, stroke and heart disease as well.
Yes, higher fiber intake also leads to more frequent trips to the restroom. But an efficient bowel shouldn’t discourage you from taking fiber every day. Unfortunately, reports show that fiber consumption is at an all-time low among Americans of all ages, with less than 3% of the population making any effort to eat fiber foods. The result of skipping out on your daily fiber dosage is constipation. When your bowels get ‘backed up’ trying to empty them can be quite uncomfortable and downright painful at times.
On the other hand, overeating fiber can also be problematic. It makes the food move along the intestines faster than necessary. So, your body doesn’t get enough time to absorb all the nutrients and minerals in the diet. And you may also be left feeling bloated and gassy as a result of undigested food sitting around inside of you.
The Magic Number: How Much Is Enough Fiber?
According to the stats shared by the Institute of Medicine, men under the age of 50 need to eat about 30 grams of fiber every day, women in the same age bracket should consume 25 grams of fiber on a daily basis. Adults over 50 need less fiber, 30 grams for the guys and 21 grams for the gals is more than enough!
The good news here is that fiber is found in many natural food sources as well, so if you aren’t the biggest fan of whole grains… relax! We bring you seven of our favorite fiber-rich foods that make a great addition to your everyday recipes. Get them and set that dining table right!
7 Best High-Fiber Foods
Research suggests that most of us aren’t even eating 50% of the daily recommended intake of fiber. Hitting that daily target of fiber-rich eating may seem impossible at first, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Fill up your plate with vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, and you can easily reap the health benefits of a fiber-rich diet.
We bring you a list-down of our favorite foods to help you get started. Just know that the amount of fiber in these items may vary slightly between the raw and cooked versions.
Depending on your age and gender, nutrition experts recommend you eat at least 21 to 38 grams of fiber per day for optimal health. Research suggests that most of us aren’t eating half that amount.
Here’s how you can reap health benefits of fiber.
1. Jerusalem artichokes
These are a fantastic source of fiber because they are high in inulin, a type of fiber that has a powerful prebiotic potential. Once you eat it, the fiber in the artichokes goes straight for your colon, where it ferments to create a healthy microflora for a happy tummy.
Inulin, the soluble fiber is also found in leeks, onions, bananas, and asparagus. If you are planning on adding Jerusalem artichokes into your diet, we suggest you do it slowly and ease into it. This veggie may cause digestive distress to people with sensitive tummies.
These seemingly innocuous sweet fruits are excellent at restoring the bacterial community in your tummy. And bananas are good at reducing inflammation too. So, they are really the peacemakers of the fruit kingdom. A banana a day will give you the potassium and magnesium you need for the day. And it teaches the microbes in your tummy to coexist peacefully within the bacterial community.
This food is made from corn. It is a fiber-rich complex carb that has a fermentable base. Polenta is great at fostering healthy guts thanks to all the insoluble fiber within it. The fiber goes directly to the colon, where it ferments.
4. Cruciferous vegetables
Broccoli, kale, cabbage, and cauliflower are the mighty cruciferous veggies that contain the magical glucosinolates. These microbes reduce inflammation and significantly diminish the risk of bladder, breast, liver, lung, stomach and colon cancers.
These glucosinolates find cancerous intruders in the colon area, latch on to them and make sure they are shown the way out of the body. Eating these cruciferous foods over a long period is shown to have some fantastic benefits. So, load that plate up with those leafy greens.
These may be tiny, but they may hold the key to powerful immune function! Blueberries contain anthocyanins, but that’s just the pigment that gives the fruit it’s bold blue color. Blueberries contain a blend of vitamin K, antioxidants and course fiber. It’s a real superfood. In addition to diversifying the bacteria in our guts, blueberries also play a role in strengthening our memory and improving the immune system.
Like all legumes, beans are super-friendly with the good gut bacteria. Add them to your diet to tune up your immune system and strengthen you’re the cells of your intestine. Regular intake of beans also helps with weight loss, as it enables the intestine to absorb micronutrients from the food more efficiently. These beans are jam-packed with folate, fiber, protein and Vitamin B, all of which play a role in keeping your brain and gut healthy.
7. Fermented plant-based foods: tempeh and miso
We are talking about fermented foods like miso and tempeh. These are trending not only because they are new but also because these foods are great at inoculating the gut with beneficial bacteria. These foods are fiber-rich and help decrease allergies, improve immunity and ensure better intestinal health.
The Last Word
The foods detailed above offer all the benefits of fiber and deviation from the usual taste palette of nuts, whole grains, and run-of-the-mill vegetables. In case you still feel like your diet doesn’t have enough fiber, why not invest in a fiber supplement to help make up the deficit?
Use a supplement to carefully top up your daily fiber intake. Talk to your doctor or use a reliable telemedicine service for in-depth guidance on managing your weight using fiber supplements. If you are having trouble maintaining your blood sugar levels due to diabetes, or if you are taking medicine for some other issues, discuss drug interactions with your health care provider before starting the fiber supplements.
It’s always best to go natural. So, try to include as many fiber-rich foods into your diet as possible. If you are cooking for a family, try some sneaky ways to add more fiber to their foods. For example, use flaxseed meal in smoothies, yogurts, and oats, add chia seeds to puddings and cakes or hide some spinach and carrot among the daily snacks, e.g, on top of a pizza or in eggs.
James Crook is a passionate health and fitness blogger. Currently, he is working with Centra Care –Urgent Care Tampa. Follow @jamescrook911 for more updates.