How Much Fiber Do You Really Need?
The institute of Medicine has recommended that we have as much as 38 grams of fiber in our diets every day, and yet many of us don’t even come close to half of that amount! In fact, the average high fiber diet in North America only reaches the 20 grams/day point.
But maybe we’re not seeing the whole picture. How much fiber do we really need and do we see fat loss benefits of including a lot of fiber in our diets? This article will dive into the real truth about high fiber diets…
What Really is Fiber Anyway?
There are two sources of natural fiber labeled as soluble and insoluble but did you know that there is also a new form of fiber which is man-made and is referred to as “functional fiber”?
I recently came across the definition of functional fiber and found it to be pretty alarming. It is fiber that is grown in a lab from yeast or bacteria. Because it’s ability to increase stool weight functional fiber can be labeled as fiber in our foods.
But what is the health concern of this? Perhaps it will be easier to look at soluble and insoluble forms…
Insoluble fiber found in nuts, wheat bran and many vegetables absorbs water as it passes through our digestive tract and facilitates regularity.
Soluble fiber found in barley, oats, and some fruits has extra benefits because they help slow down the absorption of sugars by our digestive tract and also have been found to help lower the bad LDL cholesterol in our blood.
Cereals Are High in Fiber, Right?
Well, the answer is unfortunately not so much. High fiber cereals generally only have about 5-10 grams of fiber, and that is in a full serving. You have to watch the labels really carefully here because often you’ll find that many cereal manufacturers will try and make the cereal taste better by adding lots of sugars and those sugars basically counteract the benefits of the fiber found in the cereal.
So What Foods Are High in Fiber?
Well you might have guessed it by the picture used for this article but berries like raspberries and blackberries are actually super high in natural soluble fiber and lower in sugars. So great idea to have them as snacks and even add them to cereals or the sides of your meals.
Other high quality sources of fiber include legumes like peas and beans, veggies like broccoli and carrots, fruits like pears, apples, bananas, and grains such as that found in oatmeal, flaxseed bread, and other whole grain breads.
Can Fiber Help With Fat Loss?
You bet! Fiber is usually labeled as zero calorie because our digestive systems have a hard time breaking it apart and it slows down our digestion and intake of sugars into our blood stream. This results in a “full” feeling and our bodies have to burn extra calories trying to digest it.
Fiber will also reduce uptake of fat into our system, keep our energy levels up, and maintain our digestive tract in optimal condition.
To back this up many scientific journals have reported studies on comparing groups of people based on how much fiber they have in their diets and have found those to have higher fiber also are leaner and don’t have as much problems with controlling their weight.
How Good Are Fiber Supplements?
Most fiber supplements are actually pretty impressive coming from Psyllium husks which are a form of soluble fiber. You can add just a tablespoon or two and increase your fiber intake by as much as 12-15 grams in one drink. Some even come as a chewable tablet making it a breeze to add to your diet. The great thing is that they are all very affordable and offer many servings per container.
These are some of the highest quality fiber supplements I’ve found:
Conclusion: High Fiber Diets – The Real Truth
It’s really a no-brainer here! It’s time for all of us to make this change and make sure we try and get higher amounts of fiber in our diets. It will simply help us stay leaner, keep our energy levels high, keep us regular, allow us to reduce our LDL cholesterol and also maximize the health of our digestive tract. Next time you’re in the grocery store reach for those fresh berries and perhaps even give one of the supplements above a try to give you another boost without as much of the calories.
Do you have enough fiber in your diet? Please leave a comment below on your thoughts about this article…
Umm, you left us hanging on the whole “functional fiber” issue… (You skipped it, then didn’t come back to it.)
Hi Richard, thanks for bringing it to my attention that it wasn’t clear enough. I’ve just gone in and edited the article, but your focus with functional fiber should be to focus on soluble fiber as much as you can because of the added benefits it provides over insoluble fiber. Hope that helps!