By: Dr. Lee Aberle ND, IFMCP
Fiber is possibly the most important part of any diet that most people ignore. In my opinion it is hard to be healthy unless you get enough fiber in your diet.
So the scoop on fiber is that most of us are having trouble eating enough fiber to be healthy. The current recommendation for eating fiber is 25 g per day for women and 38 grams per day for men and 19 grams for children. The average amount of fiber we eat is 15 g. That amount pales in comparison to the amount eaten by our Hunter-Gatherer ancestors which is estimated to be 10 times our current intake.
Why is fiber such a big deal? I think the reason is because the fiber is the food for your personal arsenal of organisms in your digestive system. Maybe if you think about eating fiber as the care and feeding of your personal group of important (but hidden) pets, it will be easier for you to be consistent. After all, you wouldn’t starve a beloved pet, would you?
Let us learn a little more about the organisms in our bodies. Our body has about 10 trillion cells. We host 100 trillion other organisms that do things like make vitamins (example: B12, vitamin K), digest foods, boost our immune response, by their sheer numbers out compete harmful organisms while aiding in digestion. And most of these beneficial flora cannot be supplemented and must be derived from the fiber rich foods.
Fiber is the bulk in our diet. The beneficial flora, AKA probiotics, in our digestive tract breaks-down three quarters of the fiber we eat. Probiotics eat fiber, the parts of food indigestible for us, leads to health benefits such as better mood, a healthier heart, achieving your optimal weight and well functioning digestive tract.There is much we need to learn about probiotics yet, but the patterns relating to the benefits are well established.
How to get enough fiber in is the big challenge we all have. We should all learn about some of the best sources of fiber and we should all spend time tracking fiber consumption to ensure we are getting the recommended amount. As you might expect there is an app for that. Here is a review of nutrition apps: https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/top-iphone-android-apps. Finding an app that does well with home cooking and less processed foods is important as the fiber is low in most processed foods.
One of my favorite sources of fiber is Chia seeds. A dose of 2 TBSP provides 11 grams of fiber. That is insanely high. As the chia seeds are also a good source of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals, they are very nutritious. Chia can be considered low carb because in a 2 TBSP serving, 11 of the 12 carbohydrates are fiber. Chia can be added to smoothies, sprinkled on salads or other foods and is a great ingredient in many recipes. It is a good addition to any high protein - low carb diet, but it is generally healthy for all diets.
Tip on label reading: to figure out how many carbohydrates take the “total carbs” and subtract the “fiber” to get the net carbs. Net carbs are the actual number of carbs that you should count because, as I have discussed your fiber isn’t fully absorbed and stored by humans, and has another purpose in the body.
Many vegetables are a source of fiber but the big winner as a fiber-full vegetable is artichoke. Depending on the size of the artichoke there is more than 10 grams of fiber in one artichoke. So think of making sure artichokes are in your vegetable rotation, or consider artichoke dip stuffed artichokes and artichoke hearts. As an added bonus, they are super yummy.
Pears are another great source of fiber. 5.5 grams in 1 medium pear. Of course pears are an options for a sweat treat but can be paired with cashews, pork and cheese to create many savory options as well.
Kids and fiber can be a challenge. One blog I suggest you consider is: https://www.momables.com/high-fiber-snacks/ . The mom in this blog has authored a cookbook on home made snacks and her blog promises that no matter what flavors your child prefers, she has a snack to match. Please take a moment to try out a high fiber snack options for you or your kids. And please let me know if you find a favorite or share it on our facebook page @ https://bit.ly/2KtpCUD
Dr. Lee Aberle.
reprinted from the Good Earth Food Coop's newsletter. The Good Earth Food Coop is my favorite local grocery store. - Dr. Lee