Even though the American Heart Association recommends 25-30 grams of dietary fiber daily to help prevent disease and regulate bodily functions, it has been reported that nine out of ten Americans still consume only about half that amount.
As consumers seek more ways to consume fiber, food companies are responding by reformulating products to include more whole grains and fiber supplements to soups, yogurts, granola bars, baking mixes and even Splenda, a zero-calorie sweetener made from sucralose.
While it’s certainly positive to see people consuming more fiber, Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, the author of bestselling The F-Factor Diet and SkinnyInTheCity.com cautions that as fiber becomes a nutrition trend, companies are adding fiber to foods that are inherently not healthy.
Zuckerbrot has provided a few simple tips to begin increasing the amount of fiber in your diet without turning to artificial sources.
Know the difference. There are two different types of fiber and it’s important to know the difference between them. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and helps carry cholesterol out of your body. It slows down the rate your stomach empties and helps keep you full longer. Insoluble fiber, also known as “roughage,” helps promote movement of food throughout the digestive system.
Keep it simple. Replace low-fiber foods (white bread, white rice, candy and chips) with fiber-containing foods (whole-grain bread, brown rice, fruits and vegetables). Ditch your sweetened breakfast cereal and replace it with one that lists the first ingredient as “whole wheat” or “whole grain” and top it with some fresh fruit, such as berries or a banana.
Veggies matter. Eat a larger dinner salad and allocate more of your plate to veggies and less for meat. If you fill 1/2 your plate with vegetables, both raw and cooked, and fresh fruit, you’ll consume fewer calories and feel satiated after your meal. Make sure your plate also contains some whole grains or beans.
Increase your fiber intake slowly. Fiber is good for your body but it can be a shock to your system if you aren’t used to consuming the recommended amount. Be sure you’re drinking six-eight glasses of water per day to help your body adjust.