Written By: Lina Abuhamdieh MS, RDN, LD, CLT
We’ve all heard how fiber helps keep us regular and that it is good for our digestion. While we are told to “eat more fiber”, sometimes we don’t know how much we should be eating or what foods even contain fiber. While the recommended intake of fiber is 25-30 grams a day, the average American adult is only getting about 15 grams. Here are some reasons you should increase your fiber intake and ways you can add more fiber into your diet.
First, let’s start by figuring out what fiber is.
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. Fiber does not get broken down, as other carbohydrates do, and passes through the body undigested. Fiber comes in two forms – soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water forming a gel-link substance that creates bulk, while insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and moves food along. Some examples of soluble fiber include oats, peas, beans, apples, and carrots. Some examples of insoluble fiber include whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, cauliflower, and potatoes.
What are some benefits of increasing my fiber intake?
- Helps control blood sugar level – Food with fiber takes longer to digest, therefore keeping blood sugar quite even, rather than causing a dramatic rise and fall. This helps sustain energy levels.
- Good for our digestion – Fiber bulks up your stool and softens it, which decreases your chance of constipation. When you are increasing your fiber intake, ensure that you are also drinking a lot of water to help pass it along.
- Feeds the healthy bacteria in our gut – Most high fiber foods are a good source of prebiotic bacteria, which serves as a food for probiotic bacteria, keeping your gut healthy with a range of good bacteria. This is also important for fighting inflammation.
- Helps with satiety – Foods that are high in fiber make us feel full faster and for longer periods of time than foods low in fiber. Fiber swells in your stomach, which increases that feeling of fullness.
How can I add more fiber in my diet?
- Include more non-starchy vegetables in your meals, and eat them first. Non-starchy vegetables are low in calories and super high in nutrients.
- Love popcorn? Well, guess what? Popcorn is a whole grain and provides you with 4 grams of fiber per serving!
- Switch some of your refined grains to whole grains. Refined grains have been stripped of their fiber and nutrients (only added back when the grain is enriched). Give the “whole grain” version of the carbohydrate a try and see what you think! This tortilla is an awesome option of a whole grain that is loaded with half our daily fiber needs!
- Keep the peel of your fruits and vegetables on (unless you’re having a fruit or vegetable that requires you to remove the peel!). If you’re having an apple, for example, keep the skin on as it can bring you closer to your daily fiber goal. Fruit and vegetable peels are loaded with fiber.
For a more comprehensive look at your fiber intake and needs, schedule your appointment with one of our registered dietitians. We service the metro-Atlanta area for in-person appointments or anywhere in Georgia for virtual appointments.
Lina Abuhamdieh MS, RDN, LD, CLT
Lina completed her Master’s degree in dietetics with a concentration in sports nutrition from Georgia State University. She has always had a passion for fitness, health and nutrition and worked as a certified personal trainer for two years at the University of Georgia, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in dietetics.
Lina is committed to offering a safe space to ask questions about nutrition, and helping her patients feel their absolute best. Her special interests are weight management, sports nutrition, bariatrics, diabetes, food sensitivites and overall wellness. Lina can see patients in person at our Alpharetta location or virtually through our patient portal.