Where Did All the Fiber Go?

Fiber’s Disappearing Act

Most health experts believe we should be getting 25-35 grams of fiber every day.  As Americans, we consume on average 10-15 grams of fiber a day.  This is a problem.

The consumption of fiber in the human population has continued to decrease over the course of human history.  In the last couple centuries it has taken a dive.  This most recent drop seems to have started with the genesis of food processing.  All that processing removes valuable fiber, as well as other nutrients.  Add that loss of fiber to America’s preference for poor food choices, and it’s easy to see how our fiber intake is decreased.

A Hole in Our Diets

Progressively, we have been exchanging high fiber, whole food products such as whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables for processed grains, potatoes with no skins, sugar, and processed oils.  This has left a huge hole in our diets, especially considering the health benefits of fiber.

Beyond the Basics

Most people are familiar with using fiber for constipation, but research in the last century has shown fiber to be benenficial for much more.  Fiber is broken down by good bacteria in our intestines.  It is a source of food for them, but when they have digested the fiber it serves as fuel for our intestinal cells.  Fiber is also beneficial for removing toxins from the body.  It has been shown in studies to help with maintenance of healthy weight and weight loss.

Fiber Helps More Than Just Digestion

Soluble fiber, such as those found in oats and beans, help lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.   Beta glucans, the soluble fiber from oats, have been allowed to carry a heart health claim by the FDA.  Soluble fiber is also beneficial for promoting maintenance of healthy blood sugar levels, which makes it especially important for diabetics.  Heart disease and diabetes are two of the most critical issues facing Americans today.  Finding one natural substance that helps fight both conditions is good news for the health world.

Time for Change

In an era of elimination issues, cardiovascular disease, and sugar imbalance, fiber is an important element to to return to our diets.   Since it is abundant in many whole vegetable-based foods, it is not difficult to add back into the diet.  It just takes a little conscious effort, and maybe a slightly longer preparation time for dinner.