Dietary fiber comes from plant-derived food that cannot be completely broken down by human digestive enzymes. You may then wonder why do we need it if we cannot break it down and why is dietary fiber so important in our daily diet? The major benefit of adequate intake of dietary fiber and water is that it can promote intestinal peristalsis and help with smooth bowel movements. Conversely, insufficient intake may lead to constipation due to insufficient gastrointestinal motility. Dietary fiber can aid to soften stools, facilitating the formation of stools, and accelerating the discharge of toxic substances. Dietary fiber that cannot be digested and absorbed by the human body is also decomposed and fermented by intestinal bacteria, and converted into a nutrient source for probiotics, helping to maintain the balance of intestinal flora. Dietary fiber is not only a promoter to improve constipation but also acts as an important role to protect intestinal health.
The recommended amount of fiber you should get from your daily diet depends on your age and gender. Below are some recommendations for your daily fiber intake:
- Men aged 50 years old or younger should consume at least 38 grams of fiber per day.
- Men older than 50 years of age should get at least 30 grams of fiber daily.
- Women aged 50 years old or younger should consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day.
- Women older than 50 years of age should get at least 21 grams of fiber daily.
But the problem is that most people don't get enough fiber in their diet, especially those who follow a gluten-free diet, the fiber deficiency may be greater. Here are some easy ways to increase your daily fiber intake.
1. Add vegetables and fruits to your meals
There are multiple reasons for you to eat more vegetables and fruits. Non-starchy vegetables are especially low in calories and high in nutrients, including fiber. A diet rich in vegetables and fruits is able to help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, lower the risk of eye and digestive problems, and positively affect blood sugar, which can help keep the appetite in check.
One way to incorporate more vegetables with meals is by having a salad for lunch/dinner as a meal base, topping it with protein and healthy fats.
2. Choose whole grains over refined grains
Whole grains are minimally processed and contain the entire grain – which is made up of bran, germ and endosperm. Refined grains on the other hand have been stripped of their vitamin-containing germ and fiber-rich bran. This makes refined grain last longer but also takes away the most nutritious parts, leaving only a fast-absorbing carbohydrate.
You can try replacing at least half of the refined grains in your diet with whole-grain. In addition to popular whole grains such as oatmeal or brown rice, you may try:
• Bulgur wheat
• Wheat berries
3. Read labels to choose foods with lots of fiber
The ideal way to get more fiber is to use whole plant foods. However, nowadays most people opt for easily processed foods due to their busy lives. Therefore, it is advisable to look for fiber-rich products. Some foods — including yogurt, granola bars, cereals, and soups — may have added functional fiber. These are extracted from natural sources and then added to foods as a supplement.
Common names of fiber you can find on food labels are inulin and polydextrose. It is important to always read the nutrition label to find out how many grams of fiber are in a serving. More than 2.5 grams per serving is considered a good source, and 5 grams or more is excellent.
4. Snack on nuts and seeds, or add them to recipes
Nuts and seeds are always a good choice for snacks as they provide protein, fat, and fiber. One ounce of almonds contains nearly 4 grams of fiber. They are also rich in unsaturated fats, magnesium and vitamin E. What’s more, nuts and seeds are versatile foods. They’re shelf-stable and nutrient-dense, making them ideal snacks to have on hand. You can also include them in any recipes to add extra nutrition and fiber to your meals.
5. Bake with high-fiber flours
You can choose a flour that adds extra nutrition when baking. You can easily replace white flour with whole wheat pastry flour. This fine-textured flour has more than 5 times as much fiber as white flour. There are also alternative flours that are even richer in fiber. For example, an ounce of coconut flour has 10 grams of fiber, while the same amount of soy flour has 7 grams. Several other non-wheat flours have about 3 grams of fiber per ounce — the same as whole wheat flour. These include almond, hazelnut, chickpea, buckwheat, and barley flours.
6. Leave the peel or skin on apples, cucumbers, and sweet potatoes
When peeling fruits and vegetables, half of the fiber is usually removed. For example, a small apple has 3.5 grams of fiber, but a peeled apple has less than 2 grams. Likewise, a small potato has 3 grams of fiber, one of which comes from the skin. The fiber found in fruit and vegetable peels is generally insoluble fiber.
You may like to consider:
LABO Nutrition Bioactive Organic Fiber
Formulated with Sunfiber™, the world’s most researched soluble fiber, Bioactive Organic Fiber is a true regulating, all-natural fiber that restores healthy gut flora, supports digestive balance, reduces glycemic index of food and supports healthy weight management, without the common side effects associated with most fibers - fiber-associated digestive discomforts, excess gas, bloating, diarrhea and cramping.
LABO Nutrition FiberGG
FiberGG is a synbiotic supplement formulated with a functional dose of 10 billion active Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and 7g Sunfiber™ prebiotic dietary fiber. Combining the synergistic benefits of both, FiberGG is beneficial to gastrointestinal, digestive and immune health, while helping to normalize blood glucose and cholesterol levels, support healthy weight management and overall wellness.
LABO Nutrition FLORAGENESIS Ultra-Wellness (2022 Enhanced Formula)
FloraGenesis Ultra-Wellness is a high-strength, research-proven formula with 50 billion live probiotics. Containing 15 diverse strains of probiotics including 10 billion FloraGG probiotics (Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG), bifido-bacterium strains, probiotic yeast, spore-forming probiotics and other strains for a spectrum of health benefits, Ultra-Wellness is fortified with 5g SunfiberTM prebiotic dietary fiber and features a targeted delivery system - a patented 5-layer microencapsulation which protects the probiotics against heat, stomach acid and intestinal bile for maximal delivery and efficacy.
SunfiberTM is a prebiotic fiber that increases the number of good bacteria - Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus - in the gut to promote healthy gut flora. Fermentation of SunfiberTM by the gut bacteria in the colon results in the production of short-chain fatty acids, which provides energy for the cells lining the colon, suppresses the growth of bad bacteria in the gut, promotes calcium absorption, and reduces appetite.