In a New Year filled with weight-related resolutions, fiber is finally gaining some fans.
A story published this week in the Washington Post touted “Fiber: The least sexy weight-loss tool“.
Fiber might not be sexy – and even “gross and gassy” as the article’s authors proclaim – but it’s a key component of a well-balanced diet.
Why All the Fuss About Fiber?
As a Registered Dietitian, I often hear clients complain about all of the foods they “can’t” or “shouldn’t” eat. When asked why I focus on fiber, I always respond that in a world of “eat less” messages, fiber is the rare positive part of our diet since it’s the one thing we can all stand to eat MORE of.
In case you need a reminder to fall back in love with fiber, here’s a quick list of the benefits of maintaining a high fiber diet:
- Fiber helps promote satiety – the feeling of fullness – and feeling full more frequently means less over-eating and better chances at reaching and maintaining a healthy weight
- Fiber helps lower heart disease risk – fiber works full time to clear bad cholesterol from your bloodstream and even tells your liver to make less internal cholesterol
- Fiber helps regulate blood sugar – high fiber foods take longer to digest than their refined counterparts, working to stabilize blood sugar levels – an important consideration for people with diabetes
- Fiber is linked to better bowel health – a high fiber diet is tied to lower rates of certain types of cancer, including colon cancer, not to mention less digestive disorders such as constipation and hemorrhoids.
Finding Your Fiber Sweet Spot
If you are looking for a legitimate way to improve your diet, aim to get 30 grams of fiber per day. Keeping in mind that the average American eats only 12-15 grams per day, as a nation we have some serious fiber homework to do.
The best way to get your 30 grams per day? Aim for 5-6 grams of fiber each time you eat. If you can put down 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day, 5-6 grams per eating incident will get you to 30 in no time.
And which types of foods are the most fiber friendly? Well, considering that the only foods that naturally contain fiber are plant foods, try to eat more plant and less animal foods, focusing on:
- Whole grains
- Fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
Putting more plants and 30 grams of fiber per day in your system is a great way to get your health up to speed here in 2016.