The Fiber You Need to Know
To help you eat more fiber, know all of your options!
You really need more fiber! You know that, right?
Reap the fiber benefits!
High-fiber intakes are associated with a host of health benefits, including these:
- Less risk of heart disease and stroke, in part, by affecting blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Less risk of type 2 diabetes, perhaps by affecting insulin sensitivity
- Reduced risk of colorectal cancer, which may result from speeding stool through the colon, diluting the contents of the colon, and by affecting the gut microbes
- Better laxation, meaning that you’ll have an easier time in the bathroom
- Lower body weight: The effect is small, but even a few pounds is a good thing, right?
- Less risk of death: Well, we’re all going to die eventually, but research found that study subjects with the highest intakes of dietary fiber were significantly less likely to die from coronary heart disease or any reason during the study period.
How much fiber are we eating?
That list is enough to get me to munch on another carrot or two, sip on lentil soup and choose high-fiber breads, crackers and cereals over traditional products. How about you? Unfortunately, only 5% of Americans consume the recommended amounts of fiber. The Adequate Intake is 25 grams daily for women and 38 grams for men, but on average, we consume a mere 16 grams daily. We can do way better than that, you guys!
Fill the fiber gap
We can’t rely on just one or two high-fiber foods. We’ve got to fill the gap with a variety of foods because there are LOTS of types of fibers, and they have different roles. Some are the bathroom helpers. Some lower cholesterol levels. Some feed gut microbes. Just like high intakes of one vitamin won’t make up for shortages of another vitamin, we need a variety of fiber types (Be sure to check out What You Need to Know about High Fiber Foods).
Here are 10 easy peasy ways to get more fiber.
Get resistant starch
An interesting type of fiber – and one you may not have heard of – is resistant starch. Yes, it’s starch, but it’s unique. Resistant starch escapes digestion in the small intestine, so like other fibers, it makes its way to the large intestine. There it can be fermented by gut bacteria. Basically, those microbes in our intestines can make a meal out of resistant starch, resulting in the production of short-chain fatty acids like butyrate. Butyrate appears to protect the colon cells and has other heath effects.
Since not all of the starch is digested, it doesn’t contribute directly to blood sugar levels. Yay!
And research suggests that consuming resistant starch might improve blood sugar control, might make the body more sensitive to insulin and even affects satiety levels. Because it’s slowly fermented by the gut microbiota, it’s well-tolerated at amounts higher than many other fibers.
Sources of resistant starch
Here’s a small table that lists various foods and their resistant starch content. Some of my favorite sources of resistant starch are cold potatoes (think potato salad), under-ripe bananas, cooked and cooled rice, and uncooked oats (yes, to my morning muesli!).
I’d love to know what foods with resistant starch you’ve been eating.
I'm Jill, and I believe simple changes in your mindset and health habits can bring life-changing rewards. And I don't believe in willpower. It's waaaay overrated. As a food-loving registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist and certified health and wellness coach, I've helped thousands of people solve their food and nutrition problems. If you're looking for a better way to master this whole healthy eating/healthy living thing or if you're trying to prevent or manage diabetes or heart problems, you'll find plenty of resources right here.
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Welcome to my Blog
Hi there! I'm Jill, a nutrition & diabetes expert and the author of 4 books.
I believe simple changes in health habits can bring you life-changing rewards.
And I believe willpower is way overrated.
Right here is where you can discover the mindset and habits to stick with healthy lifestyle choices most of the time - and drop the guilt when you don't.