One way to reach your health and wellness goals more quickly is by incorporating fiber into your diet. Fiber is probably best known for its ability to help keep your digestive system moving, but there are other benefits as well – such as helping your stomach feel fuller.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), nine out of ten Americans aren't getting enough in their daily diet.
"Fiber can be confusing," explains Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN. "I think many people have experienced tummy trouble when they ate too much fiber and it overwhelmed their digestive system. With a simple strategy of introducing fiber slowly, they can receive all the health benefits without any discomfort."
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, women should consume 25 grams of fiber daily while 38 grams of fiber are recommended for men. However, most people consume far less, with an average of only 15 grams.
Here are some ways to incorporate more fiber into your diet:
- Increase your fiber intake by only three to five grams each day. That way, you give your body time to adjust to a higher fiber content.
- Mix in high-fiber foods with your regular diet. As you're ramping up your fiber intake, start by adding fiber to foods you already eat. It could be as simple as adding a high-fiber cereal to a plant-based yogurt parfait or adding nuts and berries to your salad.
- Drink more water. Insoluble fiber doesn't dissolve in water, so make sure you drink plenty of fluids to help carry the fiber through your intestines. By eating more fiber and drinking more water, you're helping your digestive system do its job more efficiently.
- Find a great-tasting fiber you love. Instead of viewing fiber as a chore, or something you "have to" eat, find a high-fiber option that you can look forward to eating.
Harris-Pincus recommends eating whole fruits and vegetables, leaving the skin on foods such as apples and potatoes. Beans and legumes are another excellent source of fiber, so don't shy away from the black beans in your fajitas. For easy snacks, popcorn is another fiber-rich option with four grams of fiber in just three cups of popcorn.
"Fiber really is overlooked, which is a shame because it can be this great-tasting, powerhouse nutrient," Harris-Pincus explains.