Here we are, three quarters of the way through the month of January. Perhaps you’ve been watching your calories, fat, or carbs. Maybe all of these!
But take a look at your plate, and ask yourself, WTF? That’s right-where’s the fiber?
I know, fiber is not sexy-most people don’t want to talk about it. But here’s why it’s so important-fiber is a life-saving nutrient that most of us don’t get enough of!
Recently, The Lancet published of a comprehensive review of studies looking at the health effects of amounts and types of dietary carbohydrate. The findings? Data from over 4,000 adults from close to 200 different studies found that those with higher amounts of dietary fiber reduced their risk of death from all causes of heart disease by up to 30%. The study also found reduced risk of being diagnosed with heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer.
How much fiber do I need?
The best health outcomes were seen in those who consumed 25-29 grams of fiber per day. Although this range is in keeping with national recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines and from the American Heart Association, most Americans only get about 15 grams per day. Whole Food Is Medicine encourages 25-40 grams of fiber per day.
So-how can I double my fiber intake?
Start by eating more whole plant foods. The amount of fiber will vary by food, but aim to fill your plate with whole grains, beans, and vegetables. Take a close look at your plate for each meal you have, and ask yourself WTF?
Here are a few tips for each meal:
Choose a whole grain cereal with at least 5 grams of fiber. Watch out for added sugars.
Add fresh, dried, or frozen fruit to your yogurt or whole grain cereal.
Choose whole grain bread or toast.
Choose whole grain tortilla, wrap, or bread for a sandwich.
Stack that sandwich with plenty of veggies.
Add beans to a salad.
Swap your white pasta and rice to whole grain pasta or brown rice.
Or, try spiralized vegetable noodles (zucchini, squash, beets) in place of pasta.
Add stir fry or roasted veggies to your main dish.
Make a meal out of a salad-add lean proteins, whole grains, beans or lentils to your salad greens.
Have fruit for dessert.
Popcorn (minus the butter and salt).
Hummus, salsa, or guacamole with veggies.
Before you start-a small word of caution
Add more fiber to your regular eating patterns gradually. This will allow your gastrointestinal system to get used to the changes you are making.
Drink plenty of water in order to allow fiber to do it’s good work (keep you regular plus all of the other health benefits mentioned).
Recognize that small changes add up over time.
Work on one meal at a time, and before you know it, you'll look at your plate and no longer have to say, "WTF?"