Most of us know we ought to eat more fiber. However, despite the talk of numbers, most of us are not getting enough. We are not being shown how to improve our daily fiber intake, at least not in a way that is enticing or practical. The problem is most of us have a skewed understanding of fiber. As a result, we do not appreciate its benefits or versatility. If we did, we could start asking the right questions and discover better ways to give our body what it needs.
Fiber plays an important role in digestion, regularity, and general health. It acts like an escort service, accompanying nutrients into our digestive tract and pushing waste out.
Most people are familiar with its effect on bowel movements. For example, soluble fiber draws in water, making stools softer, larger, and easier to pass. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, adds bulk. This keeps our bowels flowing smoothly, preventing constipation.
But fiber affects our health in even more profound ways. In fact, it is one of the biggest contributors to our well-being. It:
Fiber slows the absorption of sugar. As a result, this helps keep our blood sugar levels stable throughout the day.
Fiber binds to cholesterol in our stomach and intestines. Instead of being absorbed, it is excreted through our waste.
Fiber provides volume and takes longer to digest. Consequently, this keeps you feeling full and makes you likely to eat less over time. People with a large daily fiber intake generally find it easier to achieve or maintain optimal weight.
The composition, variety, and richness of your gut biome depends largely on diet. In other words, a strong, daily fiber intake keeps beneficial bacteria well-fed and flourishing. Then they can carry out their specialized tasks. Beyond good digestion, they also help prevent long-term illnesses, including:
Your intestines are covered with a mucus layer that protects them from contamination. It is sustained by bacteria that depend on fiber. Without it, the mucus layer deteriorates, leaving you open to infection and chronic bowel inflammation.
Overgrowth of gut bacteria can cause irritable bowel syndrome. But eating more prebiotic fiber has been shown to reduce symptoms.
Gut bacteria affects how we use and store energy. In fact, research links obesity to microbial changes in our intestines. Subsequently, switching to a high-fiber diet can help improve our gut microbiome.
Diets with large amounts of protein, fat, and sugar impair your gut biome. Because not all bacteria metabolize nutrients in the same way, feeding them the wrong food can activate pathways that cause fat deposits to build up in the liver.
Most significantly, high daily fiber intake encourages production of short chain fatty acids, which lower your risk of colon cancer. It is not a surprise therefore that people who eat a healthy mix of fiber and carbohydrates also tend to live longer as well.
The Institute of Medicine recommended daily fiber intake for women is 28 grams and for men, 35 grams. However, it is important to note these are general recommendations. Needs may vary from person to person.
To hit these numbers or go beyond them, eat fiber throughout the day. Make it part of every meal but never focus on a single source. Keep your diet varied by eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and seeds.
A good rule of thumb is to broaden the colors you are eating. That way, you don’t have to know the specific makeup of the items on your plate. You just ensure you are getting a diverse range of fiber with your food. However, make sure to increase your daily intake slowly. This will prevent unwanted discomfort or bloating.
Fiber supplements can help increase your daily fiber intake. However, they lack the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients found in fibrous foods. They can also interfere with absorption of multivitamins and other medications, such as aspirin.
There are two types of supplements: powders and capsules. In order to make them palatable, a few powders contain artificial sweeteners such as erythritol, sorbitol, xylitol, and mannitol. They might taste better but they can also cause pain, bloating, cramps, and excessive gas, so be careful.
Capsules can be problematic as well. Cheap fiber like chicory root fills many of them. As a result, some only contain 1-2 grams of fiber, which is not a lot given what they typically cost. Conversely, supplements advertising themselves as high fiber might contain as much as 15-20 grams. This sounds good, unless it is all from soluble fiber. In massive doses, this can lead to digestive problems.
In short, supplements make it easy to get too much or not enough of what you need. The best option is to get your recommended fiber intake from whole foods first. Then you can explore other options.
Fiber comes in so many foods that it is easy to find exciting ways to incorporate it into your diet. Here are some of the ideas we discovered.
Firstly, whisk the yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, pepper, salt, and Worcestershire sauce together in a small bowl.
Then tear the kale and place in a large salad bowl. Add half the dressing and mix them together using your hands.
Set the dressing aside for at least 30 minutes, to soften the kale leaves. Leaving it out longer will soften them further. Some prefer to leave it out overnight.
Once you soften the kale to your liking, add the apples and the rest of the dressing and toss.
Afterward, serve with the avocado and hemp seeds or pepitas.
Puree the tahini, olive oil, cumin, salt, garlic, lemon juice, and water in a blender until smooth.
Add the chickpeas and puree for another 3-4 minutes. Pause occasionally to scrape the sides. Continue until hummus is smooth. If it is too thick, slowly add more water until you reach the right consistency.
After that, taste and add extra seasonings if desired (salt, lemon juice, cumin, etc.)
Hummus is a great source of fiber, as well as protein, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
Firstly, melt the baking chips in the microwave. Stir every 30 seconds to prevent the chocolate from burning.
Then, line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spread the chocolate over it. You want it about a quarter-inch thick.
Meanwhile, wait 2-3 minutes for the chocolate to set.
After that, sprinkle the rest of the toppings (pistachios, berries, coconut) and stick the pan it the freezer for 30 minutes.
Then place the sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Wait 30 minutes before removing the chocolate and brekaing it into pieces.
Dark chocolate is an amazing source of fiber. For instance, one bag contains over 70 grams, making it one of the healthiest desserts available. It is also an opportunity to get more of your favorite superfoods.
Feel free to substitute the listed topping for your favorite superfoods, such as walnuts, chia seeds, and strawberries.
Firstly, cut the apples into cubes about ½ -1 inch long, maing sure not to remove the skins. Certainly, they contain fiber and nutrients you want.
Secondly, put the apples into a covered saucepan with water. Cook for five minutes over medium heat until the become soft.
Add the coconut oil and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour in cinnamon and honey and continue cooking until the apples reach your desired softness. After that, serve immediately.
Apples are a terrific way to start the day. Not only are they packed with fiber, but also potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, and antioxidants. Sautéed with cinnamon, they are wonderful at breakfast. For example, you can eat them separately or serve them on top of oatmeal, toast, or whole-grain waffles.
There are dozens of apple varieties, but Granny Smith, Pendragon, Red Delicious, Northern Spy, and Fuji are some of the healthiest. You can stick with one or mix and match until you find the tastiest combination.
Firstly, mix the flour and psyllium together in a bowl. Stir in the water, olive oil, and baking powder to create the dough. Knead thoroughly.
Secondly, add salt. If the dough is sticky, add a touch of psyllium husk and knead for another 30 seconds.
Set aside for 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and elastic. If you are feeling adventurous, sprinkle in some flax seeds for example.
Then flatten the dough. Don’t worry about it sticking to your rolling pin. Just place it between two pieces of parchment paper.
After that, cut the dough into circles of roughly equal size. Depending on the size of your tortillas, you may have to re-combine and flatten the dough several times.
Cook the tortillas in a non-stick skillet with a dash of olive oil. Spread the oil evenly or the tortillas might get scorched. Fry the tortillas the first side for 3-4 minutes. Then flip, and fry the second for 1-2.
Serve immediatey or store for later.
Coconut flour contains 3 times more fiber than whole-wheat flour and 10 times more than all-purpose flour.
Fristly, combine the olive oil and lemon juice to make the dressing. Then add the bulgur and soak for 15 minutes, until soft and plump.
Secondly, wash and chop the vegetables, being sure to remove the stems from the parsley as you go.
Mix the vegetables together with salt and pepper.
Pour the bulgur and dressing on top and toss again.
Tabouleh salad contains over half the fiber you need in a day. You can serve it at room temperature, but it tastes better if you chill it for 15-30 minutes.
Firstly, chop the spinach and place in a bowl with the cranberries and almonds. (For a bit of extra flavor, try sautéing the almonds in butter first for instance.)
Secondly, mix the sugar and vinegar together to make the dressing.
When the sugar has dissolved, add the olive oil, sesame seeds, onion, and paprika. Whisk vigorously.
Afterward, pour the dressing over the salad and serve.
A cup of spinach contains four grams of fiber, while a cup of cranberries contains 6.6. Together with their naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they provide a powerful burst of flavor and nutrition.
Almond flour snickerdoodles
Heat the oven to 350° and then cover your baking sheet with parchment paper or non-stick coating.
Meanwhile, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and cream of tartar together.
In a second bowl, mix the coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla.
Then combine the wet and dry ingredients and whisk thoroughly.
In addition, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a third bowl.
Then take two tablespoons of dough and form them into a ball. After that, roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar and set them on the baking sheet.
Gently flatten each one before finally placing the sheet in the oven.
Cook for 10-12 minutes, until they turn golden brown.
Subsequently, if you cannot finish them in one sitting, store them in an airtight container. They will be good for about a week.
The coconut nectar and maple syrup keep these snickerdoodle from spiking your blood sugar after you eat one.
Heat the oven to 350°.
In addition, blend the chickpeas, nut butter, maple syrup (or coconut nectar), coconut oil, and vanilla in a food processor.
Then add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Blend, scraping the sides of the container as necessary.
Once the batter is creamy, transfer it to a mixing bowl and stir in the chocolate chips.
Grease an 8×8 pan and pour in the batter. After that, bake for 20-30 minutes.
Firstly, combine the flour, water, olive oil, and salt in a mixing bowl.
Let the batter sit for at least 30 minutes. (Some people leave it for up to 12 hours.)
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 450° and place an iron skillet inside. You want it hot when you add the batter.
Chop the rosemary and quickly fry it in olive oil for 30 to 60 seconds before mixing it into the dough.
Then remove the skillet and coat it with a tablespoon of oil. Then pour in the batter and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
You will know it’s done when the socca is brown and firm, with crispy edges. Remove and cut it into wedges. If the top is dry, brush it with a bit of oil.
Socca is a remarkably flexible dish. Serve with cheese, as an appetizer, or topped with an egg, for breakfast.
Firstly, heat oven to 400°F.
Then combine oil and spices in a mixing bowl. Add cauliflower and toss until coated.
Place cauliflower on a baking sheet and roast for 17 minutes, then flip and cook for another 17 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and brown.
This is a great snack you can use to boost your daily fiber intake. One head of cauliflower contains twelve grams of fiber, plus vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, and magnesium.
Place all the ingredients except the olive oil in a blender or food processor.
Pulse until everything is finely chopped and mixed. Scrape the sides of the container as you go.
Pour in the olive oil and continue until the mixture is perfectly blended. Serve or store for later.
Pairs great with pasta, chicken, or fish.
Subsequently, store fresh in an airtight container for three days.
Firstly, heat the oven to 450°
After that, chop and halve the brussels sprouts.
Place them in a mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil, chili powder, lime zest, salt, and pepper until thoroughly coated.
Place them on a rimmed baking sheet and cook for 10-20 minutes, until they are brown and crispy.
A cup of Brussels sprouts has over three grams of fiber, not to mention a ton of vitamin C.
Pears and raspberries contain 6 and 9 grams of fiber respectively, making this one of the sweetest and most nutritious salads imaginable.
We should always be on the lookout for new and delicious ways of improving our daily fiber intake. A diet rich in grains, fruits, and vegetables is the best way to nourish your digestive system. But be mindful of the quality and variety of the food you eat. Choosing the right fiber will also increase the amount of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals in your diet. This will help you achieve optimal health and fight chronic disease.
Jasmine El Nabli MS RDN is a Registered Dietician who empowers and educates individuals through her scientific, holistic approach to health and happiness. With the right tools, skills, and knowledge, she shows people how to create healthy and sustainable eating habits through small changes to daily life.