Fiber is fabulous because it can help with maintaining a healthy weight, lower risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers, most notably colon cancer. It may also lower risk of some not so great GI conditions such as: ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, appendicitis, constipation, and diverticulitis. Oh, and it can help you live longer as it’s associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and all cancers! And, odds are if you’re eating a standard American diet (SAD) you aren’t getting enough. Take note, Women need 25 grams of fiber a day and men need 38 grams. If you have kiddos at home, they need plenty of fiber too and most (like adults) aren’t getting enough. Toddlers (1-3 yrs. old) should get 19 grams a day, and kids (4-8 yrs. old) should get 25 grams (same as an adult woman). Tween and teen girls (9-18yrs) should get 26 grams a day. Whereas tween/teen boys (9-18 yrs. old) should get 38 grams (same as an adult male).
Fiber is found in fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes, but not all fiber is the same. For instance, there is soluble fiber, which dissolves in water to form a gel-like material verses insoluble fiber that helps promote movement of material through your GI tract. Soluble fiber binds with fatty acids and prolongs stomach emptying time so that sugar is released and absorbed more slowly. It also helps to lower total and LDL cholesterol levels, therefore reducing the risk of heart disease. In addition, it helps regulate blood sugar for people with diabetes. Conversely, insoluble fiber helps move bulk through the intestines, controls and balances the PH in the intestines, which helps promote regular bowel movement (less time for toxic waste to sit around) and prevent constipation. Also, as fiber ferments in the bowel it feeds good gut bacteria, which is super important since 80% of your immune system lives there!
Here are some great high fiber foods you can work into your diet:
Chia seeds, pears, berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries) apples, flax seed, avocados, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, artichokes, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, oats, lentils, split peas, beans (kidney, black, garbanzo etc.), beets, carrots, cabbage, bananas, sweet potatoes, and dark chocolate! You really can’t go wrong with any whole grain, legume, nut, seed, fruit or veggie. However, you may have noticed that animal source foods like meat and cheese are not on the list, and that’s because they don’t have fiber.
As a note, make sure you’re consuming plenty of water as you increase your fiber intake. As a general rule you should try to drink between ½oz to 1oz water for each pound you weigh daily. For example, if you weight 120lbs you should be drinking between 60oz and 120oz a day which equates to 8-15 8oz glasses of water a day.
I recommend increasing your fiber through non-processed foods, such as those noted above. I would avoid of high fiber cereal (or any cereal), not only because it’s highly processed, but because it likely has acrylamide, which is a known carcinogen in animals and likely to be one in humans. Acrylamide is formed from a chemical reaction that occurs when foods (cereals, breaks, cookies, chips etc.) are baked at high temperatures.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies acrylamide as a “probable human carcinogen.”
The US National Toxicology Program (NTP) has classified acrylamide as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies acrylamide as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”
According to the American Cancer Society’s website:
In the United States, the FDA regulates the amount of residual acrylamide in a variety of materials that come in contact with food, but there are currently no regulations on the presence of acrylamide in food itself. In 2016, the FDA issued guidance to help the food industry reduce the amount of acrylamide in certain foods, but these are recommendations, not regulations.
Then of course, there is the discovery that many common cereals also have glyphosate (Round-Up), which is another toxic chemical that has been shown to cause birth defects in laboratory animals and disrupt hormone function. Recently, the World Health Organization classified glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen.” cancer-causing chemical.
So, if you’re looking for a new breakfast food to replace your cereal habit consider baking up some homemade muffins that are loaded with goodness. Here are my three favs; not only because they’re tasty, but because I can throw all the ingredients in the blender and viola, I have a perfect read-made or grab-n-go breakfast.
(I omit the sausage)
What dietary changes could you make to get more fiber?
Why do you want to increase your fiber?
How might a higher fiber diet impact your health?