Getting enough fiber is something people don’t think about all that often. Let’s face it: Most of us haven’t a clue how many grams of fiber we’re taking in on a typical day. That’s why most of us aren’t even close to meeting the recommended intake of 20 to 35 grams a day for healthy adults. The mean fiber intake in the U.S. is 14 to 15 grams a day.
We get fiber from unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans, and most Americans aren’t exactly loading their plates with these items. You’d be hard-pressed to find any of them in your average fast-food value meal. And Americans are definitely eating more prepared and processed foods. Eating out has also become routine – all this “away” food not only has more calories and fat per meal than home-prepared foods but also less fiber (on a per-calorie basis).
Why Do We Need Fiber?
It’s hard to believe that something we can’t even digest can be so good for us! A higher-fiber diet has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels and prevent constipation. High-fiber foods also tend to contain more nutrients and fewer calories, are digested more slowly, and help us feel full sooner.
But that’s only the beginning of fiber’s story. Here’s what else it may do for us:
- The more gummy, gelatinous type of fiber (like that found in oats, bread, cereals, and the inside of kidney beans) lowers blood cholesterol levels and helps normalize blood glucose and insulin levels (important in preventing heart disease and type 2 diabetes ).
- The roughage type of fiber (like that found in wheat bran, strawberry seeds, and apple and bean skins) helps move things along in the large intestine. This promotes regular bowel movements and prevents constipation.
- Fiber-rich foods help prevent diverticulosis. They help prevent the formation of intestinal pouches (diverticula) by contributing bulk in the colon so that less forceful contractions are needed to move things along.
- Fiber can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. If people who normally get little fiber suddenly doubled their intake through wiser food choices, they could lower their risk of colon cancer by 40%.
- Fiber (from whole grains, vegetables, and beans) may have protective effects against breast cancer.
Symptoms of Low Fiber Diet
Though the symptoms of a fiber-poor diet aren’t always clear-cut, there are four key warning signs to watch for:
- Constipation: If you’re having fewer than three bowel movements a week, and the stools are hard and dry, you’re constipated. Constipation can result from lack of fiber, but also from too little exercise and certain medications and supplements. Boosting your fiber intake can help form soft, bulky stools, relieving and preventing constipation.
- Weight gain: Fiber contributes to satiety. Satiety is the feeling of comfortable fullness you get after a meal. If you’re not experiencing that feeling, you may be eating more than your body needs.
- Blood sugar fluctuations: If you have diabetes and find controlling your blood sugar difficult, you may not be getting enough fiber.
- Diet-related nausea and fatigue: Feel disgusted and tired after your meals? You may not be getting enough fiber.
When limiting our consumption of whole grains, cereals, and nuts to avoid weight gain, or when we are on a low-calorie diet trying to lose weight – we are most definitely not getting enough fiber. In these cases, a supplement is advised in order to get a healthy amount of daily fiber!
At Calla Slimspa in Orlando, our patients benefit from taking FiberPress Capsules to help them get their daily dose of fiber.