Did you know that the recommended fiber intake is 25 to 35 grams per day? A recent study revealed that indulging in the recommended daily fiber intake lowers a woman’s risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. If these numbers seem daunting, don’t worry. There are a few easy ways to make sure you’re getting enough fiber so you avoid those nasty symptoms like constipation, weight gain, nausea and exhaustion that occur when you’re lacking it.
Becoming reliant on fiber supplements can decrease your body’s absorption of important vitamins and minerals. No need for supplements – adjusting your diet and getting fiber naturally is way more beneficial. Here are a few tips for leading a more fiber-ful life.
1. Unrefined is key.
When foods are processed – like sugar, oil or wheat – most of the fiber is extracted and preservatives are added. While processed foods have a longer shelf life, they lack a lot of the nutritional value that you and you family need. Fiber is only found in unrefined foods that haven’t been processed, like plants. Avoid sodas, refined grains and fried foods. Let’s just back away from the processed foods altogether!
2. Switch to 100% whole-grain.
This may be difficult at first, especially if you have picky eaters in your family. The truth is, most breads that you find in the supermarket are filled with a bunch of additives designed for a longer shelf life, such as white bread and white pasta. Even the packaged breads that claim to be whole-wheat often have unnecessary ingredients. Ditch those bad boys and introduce whole-grain breads and pastas in their place. Take the opportunity to explore new dishes to substitute pasta, such as the fibrous and protein-rich quinoa. Sprouted wheat breads are also an excellent way to get good fiber and protein.
3. Increase fruit, vegetable and legume portions.
Fiber is found in whole plant foods. Some super fiber-rich foods include:
Blackberries – 7.6 grams per cup
Raspberries – 8 grams per cup
Broccoli – 5.1 grams per cup
Split Peas – 16.3 grams per cup
Lentils – 15.6 grams per cup
Lima beans – 13.2 grams per cup
Avocados – 6.7 grams per half
Brussels sprouts – 4.1 grams per cup
Prunes – 12 grams per cup
Pears – 5.5 grams per fruit
If your diet is mostly high-protein/low-carbohydrate and you eat a lot of meat, eggs, cheese and not a lot of produce, you definitely may feel tired and weak.
4. Decrease meat and dairy.
Animal products do not contain any fiber. If you’re lacking fiber, you should cut back on your animal product intake substantially. Your body is telling you that you need more natural foods in your diet. And there are plenty of other ways to get protein; substitute beans for meat a few nights out of the week. Or consider going vegan, like me! Check out these 8 tips for new vegans (link)
5. Replace oily salad dressings with tahini-based dressings.
It may seem like a small change, but tahini is loaded with healthy benefits. Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds that’s rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, and is one of the best sources of calcium around. Tahini also promotes healthy cell growth and actually has 20% complete protein – better than most nuts!
Introduce more fiber into your diet slowly, so your body has time to adjust to it. This type of diet can benefit you far beyond just getting enough fiber, so give it a try! And of course, talk to your doctor before indulging in a fiber friendly diet.