Fiber 101: Why & How to Boost Fiber Intake

Fiber is a superhero we often overlook. The benefits extend a lot further than just digestive health. However, this nutrient is lacking in most people's diets. The fiber intake is below what we would need, largely due to food processing. More and more foods are being refined and highly processed during which loads of the fibers are being stripped way. It can be found in plant-based foods. It occurs naturally in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Read on to discover why we need to consume fiber, and how much is actually enough. Plus learn which foods are "high in fiber".
Fiber 101: Why & How to Boost Fiber Intake

Why do we need fiber?

  • Improve Cholesterol Levels: Adequate fiber can help to scrape arteries clean to reduce and improve cholesterol levels. 
  • Diabetes: High fiber foods are usually also lower GI which means it can help stabilise blood sugar levels. This helps to prevent type 2 diabetes and manage it effectively. 
  • Heart Disease: Reduce risks since it helps to improve cholesterol levels and blood sugar control - all which largely contribute to the development and progression of heart disease. Fresh fruit and vegetables (which are high in fiber) also play a vital role in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels - to further decrease the risks of developing heart disease.  
  • Feel fuller: Slower digestion can help you to feel fuller for longer. 
  • Digestion: Stool formation is highly dependent on fiber. It helps the gastrointestinal tract to form stools, helping you to have more frequent bowel movements. 

How much fiber? 

This depends  on your bowel function and individual requirements. In general men require 38 grams and women require around 25 grams. This provides the average person with adequate levels of fiber to grant the benefits as mentioned above. We should always also increase water intake as we increase our fiber intake.

If your current fiber intake is much lower than this requirement, it is also advisable to gradually increase your fiber consumption. This will give your body (and digestive tract) time to adjust to this increased amounts of fiber it needs to digest and work through. If you increase the fiber intake too much too soon, it may lead to nausea, cramping, flatulence and it might even cause diarrhoea or constipation.

SOME KEY RECOMMENDATIONS: 
  1. WATER WATER WATER! 
  2. Slow and steady increases in fiber intake

Where can I get it? 

Tips to make sure you can get in enough fiber through your diet:
  • Keep the skin on vegetables and fruits (for example keep the skin on your potatoes; apples etc)
  • Add legumes to your rice (throw lentils in when cooking your rice!) 
  • Mix beans with minced meat (lentils, peas or kidney beans)
  • Add chickpeas to salads
  • Mix seeds or oats into your next batch of muffins, cookies or homemade bread
  • Choose less processed, less refined items: E.g. steel cut oats instead of rolled oats. 
A "high fiber" product is one with at least 6g dietary fiber per 100g of the food. Pick up the products, read the labels and get to know your food.

Good natural options include:
    Fiber 101: Why & How to Boost Fiber Intake
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries (8g)
  • Most fruit with skin (2 - 4g)
  • 1 large pear with skin (7g)
  • 1 medium apple with skin (4g)
  • ½ medium avocado (5g)
  • 30g serving of nuts (e.g. almonds) (3 - 4g)
  • ½ cup legumes (peas, beans), cooked (5 - 8g)
  • 3 cups air-popped popcorn (4g)




For more inspiration and cooking tips, you can get your Easy Wholesome Recipes E-book here

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