As a vegan I often get asked this question. I have a question for you: where do you get your fiber?
Did you know that most Americans consume more than twice the recommended daily protein and less than half of the recommended fiber. (NHANES data). So, my rebuttal is where do YOU get your fiber?
Why is fiber important?
Fiber has an important role as a prebiotic; feeding the millions of microbes that live on our bodies. The presence and diversity of this army of microbes is vital to health. Fiber plays a crucial role in keeping these microbes healthy.
Fiber lowers cholesterol. Fiber decreases the absorption of fat in the small intestine and thereby also lowers cholesterol. I always look at fiber as little scrub brushes cleaning everything up.
Fiber stabilizes blood sugar. Fiber slows digestion and blunts the rise in blood sugar seen with meals. This is why the sugar in a whole piece of fruit is better for you and better tolerated that the processed sugar in a piece of candy or processed baked goods.
Fiber improves intestinal function. It can help with both constipation and diarrhea. It also improves overall colon health and reduces the risk of colon cancer.
Fiber helps maintain a healthy weight. Fiber filled foods are generally low in calories and high in nutrients so, they are the perfect foods for weight control.
Fiber has countless benefits for cardiovascular health including lowering blood pressure, decreasing risk of diabetes and decreasing the risk of stroke.
What are good sources of fiber?
Whole unprocessed fruits and vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains and nuts and seeds.
Yes, whole grains are in fact recommended as part of a healthy diet. Whole grains, which include whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, quinoa and brown rice to name a few, are a great source of fiber and healthy omega 3 fatty acids as well as other essential vitamins and minerals.
My favorite fiber filled snack is blackberries.
Too much fiber.
Can you get too much fiber? Yes and no. Generally, if you are eating fiber from a variety of whole food sources, it is safe. Excess fiber from supplements may interfere with the absorption of minerals and other nutrients.
The recommended daily fiber intake is 25- 40 grams. It is important to include a variety of sources for optimal health. To avoid gas and bloating you should increase your fiber intake gradually. In addition, it is important to make sure that you are drinking enough liquid (ideally water).
Check out this link to see how much fiber is in your favorite foods.
Here is a link to a great burger recipe my family loves. They are packed with fiber. For added fiber I top with mixed greens, onions, tomatoes, pickles and serve with a salad or broccoli slaw on the side.