For most people, well – really, everyone but me and my dietitian friends – fiber is not very cool, nor very much fun or exciting in anyway. When I hear fiber I visualize bristles, like bristles on a brush, cleaning out my body. They take out excess toxins, extra fat and cholesterol. They leave behind a nice shiny gut with lots of healthy colonies living in harmony with each other – sounds like utopia right? But for others, fiber is just not that fun. Instead of day dreaming of clean guts, when most people hear fiber they conjure up visions of cardboard-y food that tastes more like the cereal box than cereal.
This article is what inspired this post. I really don’t think people think of fiber as they do vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. People concern themselves with these things, but don’t give fiber a second thought – it’s just not that glamorous. In the study that the article described, researchers look at hundreds of teens and found that not only are they not eating nearly enough fiber, those that don’t eat it tend to be rounder (i.e. bigger bellies) and have more inflammation. As the article points out these are two major risk factors for heart disease and diabetes – in teenagers! This study found that among the teens studied they were meeting only 1/3 of their daily need for fiber – average teen needs 25 grams of fiber a day, so 1/3 is only 8 grams – that’s not much. How can teens, and everyone for that matter, get more fiber?
- Eat more fruits and veggies and eat the skin! The skin contains most of the fiber, but only if you eat it! 1 cup of blueberries = 4 grams of fiber
- Eat 100% whole wheat bread and tortillas. 1 slice whole wheat bread = 2 grams of fiber
- Add wheat germ or ground flax seed to yogurt and smoothies. 1 tbsp wheat germ = 4 grams of fiber
- Switch to brown rice. 1 cup brown rice = 4 grams fiber
- Try quinoa (pronounced keen-wa). You cook it just like rice. 1 cup quinoa = 5 grams of fiber.
- Add beans wherever you can – pasta, salads, soups. ½ cup of beans = 7 grams of fiber.