The typical American diet is low in fiber-rich fruits and vegetables and whole grains and high in meat, saturated fat, and processed grains. As a result, nine out of ten U.S. citizens, including children and adolescents, are falling short of their recommended daily intake of dietary fiber1.
Deficiencies in dietary fibre have been linked to negative effects on a wide range of bodily functions, from digestive health to immunity to metabolic rate to mood.
It’s time to take this nutritional deficiency seriously! We’ve talked about what fibre is, how much you need each day, and how to boost your intake.
What is fiber?
Carbohydrates like those found in fibre are only ever found in plant foods. Fiber is a very complex carbohydrate that does not be digested and is eliminated from the body in the same state it entered.
Increasing your intake of something you’re going to get rid of seems counterintuitive, but fibre plays a crucial role in a number of bodily processes, including satiety, digestion, blood sugar balance, gut motility, healthy bowel movements, SCFA generation, microbial balance (i.e., good versus bad bugs), and more.
Soluble fibre and insoluble fibre are the two main types of fibre. Insoluble fibre forms the bulk of stool and helps move it along to be properly evacuated, whereas soluble fibre breaks into a gel-like substance that helps gather and remove items the body doesn’t need (such as extra hormones, cholesterol, pollutants, and trash).
The GI tract is like a roadway, and soluble and insoluble fibres are the drivers, sweeping up any toxins or waste that might be in the way and sending them on their way.
The optimal fiber dose.
According to Whitney Crouch, RDN, CLT, an integrative registered dietitian: “Women should be getting at least 25 grammes per day (and at least 28 grammes to 29 grammes per day if pregnant or lactating, respectively).”
The American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine published a research review in 2017 finding that the typical American consumes only about 16 grams2 per day.
Can you consume too much fiber?
The recommended daily allowance of fibre has not been determined. Our Paleolithic forebears may have eaten as much as 6.5 times the amount of fibre ingested by the average American today, according to some studies.
However, if you’re trying to avoid bloating, gas, and stomach irritation, it’s important to increase your fibre consumption gradually.
While there is no such thing as “too much fibre,” Crouch says, “some people may experience side effects of high-fiber intake if they have preexisting gut health issues and/or increase fibre intake rapidly.” He goes on to say that “the tolerated upper limit will vary from person to person” and is based on factors such as the person’s baseline diet, gut health, and the types of fibres consumed.
Make careful to gradually increase your intake of fibre, either through the use of a high-quality plant-fiber supplement or by eating more fiber-rich foods. Crouch recommends washing down your fibre intake with at least 8 ounces of water for every 25 grammes of fibre you eat.
Foods and forms.
To up your daily fibre intake, you can eat a wide range of foods or take specific supplements designed to do just that.
Dietary fibre is abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Plant foods high in fibre include:
Seventeen grammes of buckwheat in a cup
One cup of lentils (five servings) is 16 grammes.
1/2 pound lima beans
6: 13 grammes
Steel-cut oats, 1/2 cup
7: 12 grammes
Amount: 1 cup chickpeas
8: 10 grammes
One serving of artichoke hearts
9: 10 grammes
10: 9 grammes
Eight grammes for a half cup of split peas and a quarter cup of sunflower seeds.
12: 6.5 grammes
4 grammes protein in 1 medium sweet potato, 13
14 grammes = 1 guava.
If you’re like 95 percent of Americans and you struggle to acquire enough fibre in your diet, a well crafted fibre supplement is a great way to fill in the gaps and reap the advantages of a higher fibre intake with less effort.
Powders, pills, tablets, and even gummies are all available as fibre supplement options. They can assist fill the essential fibre shortage that affects majority of the population, but they can’t substitute nutrient-dense plant meals.
Be wary of fibre supplements that have a big list of “additional ingredients” and a low fibre content. For optimal health, it’s best to take a supplement that has been certified as both safe and hygienic (e.g., guar bean, mushrooms, kiwifruit, flaxseed, inulin, chia seed, oats, apple, acacia, ancient grains, psyllium husk, maize, etc.). The most effective fibre supplement delivery type is high-quality powders since they include the fewest chemicals while yet delivering the desired quantity of fibre.
Each serving of mindbodygreen’s organic fibre potency+ contains a whopping 6 grammes of plant-powered functional fibres from organic legumes (Indian guar beans), fungi (U.S.-harvested reishi, maitake, and oyster mushrooms), and fruit (New Zealand’s green kiwi), as well as a hardy, targeted Bacillus subtilis probiotic strain for prebiotic, probiotic, and postbiotic actions.
The lack of fibre in our diets as a country is shocking. Fortunately, you can help yourself and your family get enough fibre by eating more fiber-rich foods and taking high-quality fibre supplements (like mbg’s organic fibre potency+). Your tummy will be grateful.
It’s important to check with your doctor before beginning any supplement regimen if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or currently taking any kind of medication. To determine the best supplements for your needs, it is best to talk to your doctor.