Making sure that you are getting enough fiber is absolutely crucial to your health. Not only does it relieve constipation and make the digestive process much easier, but it can also help you manage your weight and shed some unwanted pounds.
On top of that, it has also been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, which in turn has positive effects on the heart and a lowering of the risk of diabetes. Fiber has prebiotic properties, meaning that it can promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, spreading benefits through the rest of the body.
While the advantages of getting enough fiber are well-known, many of us are not consuming enough of it. It is recommended that an average adult should eat around 40 grams of fiber per day, and most Americans are eating less than half of that. If you count yourself among those who are not consuming a sufficient amount, there are plenty of easy ways to increase your intake.
Ways to Get More Fiber in Your Diet
It doesn’t have to be a chore, nor do you have to limit yourself to foods that you typically think of as fiber sources (like a bran cereal) to ensure that you are getting enough. Here are some simple ways to get more of this vital nutrient.
Consume More Whole-Food Carbs
Fiber is nothing more than a carbohydrate found in plant-based foods. While the normal process for carbohydrates is to break down into sugar to provide your body energy, fiber resists the digestive process and stays intact through your digestive tract.
As it stays whole in your stomach and is not broken down, this can make you feel full faster and longer. It can also slow down the time that it takes your stomach to break down digestible carbs before they absorbed into the bloodstream, leading to better regulation of your blood sugar levels.
Eating more whole-food carb sources is a great way to get more of this nutrient. Examples include whole grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, and legumes.
Have Veggies With Every Meal
You already know that you should be eating plenty of vegetables. Not only are they low in calories, they are also high in nutrients – particularly fiber. Beyond just getting more vegetables in your diet, you should also change your eating habit so that you are eating the vegetables first at any meal. A study by the National Institute of Health showed that those who ate a salad before their meal at nearly 25% more vegetables than those who ate the salad alongside the meal itself.
Grab Some Popcorn
You may think of popcorn as a movie theater snack and relatively unhealthy for you, but it is actually a great source of whole grains. Each ounce of popcorn contains around 4 grams of fiber. This comes out to about over a gram of fiber per cup. Not only is it a delicious snack, but it is also a quite healthy whole grain food option.
Eat Fruit as a Snack
I talk about this in another post about healthy snacking, but I can’t stress enough how great fruit is as a snacking option. Not only are they tasty treats, but they are extremely portable. Fruit is highly nutritious, full of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. Some fruits contain more fiber than others. For the best options, go with a pear, berries, or an apple.
Use a Fiber Supplement
I always have a canister of Metamucil around the house, and you should, too! While it is best to get your fiber through food consumption, adding it in supplement form is a great way to counteract when you’ve otherwise had a low intake. I will caution, however, to make sure you are drinking plenty of water when taking a fiber supplement to avoid bloating and stomach discomfort.