Article by Amy Schwarz, RD CDN
Fiber is critical for maintaining our gut health. It has become increasingly clear that the bacteria that live in our gut (also known as our gut microbiome)—of which there are between 300-500 different kinds—play an essential role in our overall health; from preventing disease, to assisting in the metabolism of key nutrients, to communicating with our brain and influencing our susceptibility to anxiety or depression. Fiber feeds the healthy bacteria that live in our gut. This enables the healthy gut bacteria, that which does all those wonderful things listed above, to continue to thrive.
The adequate fiber intake for women is 25 grams a day for women and 38 grams for men. Fiber is not a ‘one size fits all’ nutrient; different types of fiber have unique benefits and becoming familiar with the different kinds of fiber can be very useful in taking care of your health. Soluble fiber can help regulate blood sugar, protect against heart disease, and help us make good poops! Insoluble fiber can help alleviate constipation. Our gut bacteria are picky eaters, so eating a wide variety of fiber ensures that the bacteria are well fed with foods that they each prefer.
Here are 4 ways you can increase your fiber intake throughout the day:
1) Enjoy a bowl of oatmeal in the morning (for even more fiber, add a Tbsp of chia seeds to your oatmeal!)
2) Choose whole grain bread rather than white or ‘brown’ bread—make sure you can see the grains in the bread you choose!
3) Include ½ of your dinner plate as nonstarchy vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli, or cauliflower
4) Legumes and beans are super filling and great sources of fiber! Make a warm bowl of veggie/bean chili for lunch or dinner
Amy lives in Heathcote with her husband, Matt, and 2 children (Nate, age 4, and Ava, age 2). To learn more about Amy, visit her website!