If you are focused on supporting your gut health, you have likely heard the word “fiber” tossed around. And while you may know that fiber is important to include in your diet, do you really know what it is, why you need it, and what it can do for you?
As a registered dietitian, I believe that fiber is one of the most important nutrients we can include in our diet. However, unfortunately, most people are missing the mark when it comes to getting enough in our diets.
Read on to learn why this is so concerning to me.
What Is Fiber?
First, let’s start with the basics – what exactly is fiber?
Fiber is a carbohydrate that your body can’t break down. While carbs that come from sources like sugar will be digested and absorbed by the body to use as fuel, fiber won’t break down. Instead, it is eliminated from your body, making it such an important factor for your healthy diet.
Having carbs that are not broken down once eaten play important roles in the body. Sure, it may sound like eating carbs that your body doesn’t even use as energy is useless. But once you dig a little deeper, you will see that having undigested carbs in your system plays incredibly important roles in your health.
There are two main categories of fiber – soluble and insoluble. When consumed, soluble fiber (found in foods like lima beans and oats) forms a gel-like substance. In contrast, insoluble fiber acts as bulk and won’t dissolve. Both categories play important roles, albeit in slightly different ways.
Do We Need Fiber In Our Diet?
The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults consume between 21 and 38 grams of fiber every day, depending on gender and age. Not including the recommended amount of fiber in your diet every day can set you up for some unsavory health effects, while eating a fiber-rich diet is linked to outcomes like:
- improved gut health and regular bowel movements
- reduced LDL “bad” cholesterol
- maintained healthy weight management by promoting satiety
- well-managed blood sugars within a normal range
- reduced risk of developing certain cancers, including colon cancer
- a supported diverse and healthy gut microbiome
- reduced risk of developing heart disease
Bottom line? Making adequate fiber intake a priority is key for anybody who wants to support their health naturally.
How Can You Get Enough Fiber In Your Diet?
While eating at least 21 grams of fiber every day may not sound too difficult to do, unfortunately, most Americans don’t come close to hitting that target. In fact, data shows that the average intake of fiber in the U.S. is closer to 16 grams per day, and only 1 in 20 Americans are actually consuming the right amount.
Eating a fiber-rich diet doesn’t mean having to live off of rabbit food or committing to eating a large salad three times a day (although you can feel free to enjoy multiple salads every day if you want to!). Fiber is naturally found in a slew of foods that are easy to obtain and totally yummy to eat.
Some of the best sources of fiber include:
- fruit with skin
- vegetables with skin
- many whole grains
Eating these foods on their own is simple to do. But for a little more excitement, sneaking these fiber-rich foods into your diet can make your fiber-consuming journey a little more exciting. Adding a handful of nuts and berries to your yogurt, including oats in your meatball recipes, and incorporating veggies like cauliflower in your smoothie recipe can help give you a boost of fiber in a super-simple way.
How CORE Bars Can Help You Meet Your Fiber Needs
Let’s face it. We are all busy, and we are certainly not sitting around all day cooking homemade meals and snacks. Between working, trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, and simply keeping up with the demands of life, finding time to have fresh groceries on-hand and cook homemade fiber-rich dinners every day can be easier said than done.
Including convenient and pre-made food options formulated with quality ingredients can be a lifesaver for busy people (or for people who simply don’t love cooking all day, every day). The trick is to find products that are made with fiber-rich ingredients – think dates, inulin fiber, and chia seeds – to help you meet your fiber quota in a convenient way.
CORE Bars are plant-based nutritional bars that fuel your body with an average whopping 7 grams of fiber per serving (28% of the DV) to help you meet your needs. The prebiotic fiber helps support a healthy microbiota, the soluble fiber helps support heart health, and the insoluble fiber helps you feel fuller longer, possibly helping you avoid tummy grumbles shortly after snacktime. Along with other features like plant-based protein and probiotics added to these bars, CORE Bars are one food solution this dietitian is happy to lean on.
~Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD