Though berries manage to sneak into our daily nutrition from time to time, there is still a variety of foods we’ve stubbornly chosen to ignore, all of which could help to increase fiber intake. However diverse, our Western dietary habits are already notorious for not giving us as much fiber as we need. If blood sugar fluctuations, constipation, weight gain, high cholesterol and nausea have been causing you problems in the past, chances are that your organism lacks fiber too.
Fiber deficiency is not something that should be taken lightly, but don’t start worrying just yet. Every wrong has a remedy, and so does this one.
Why Should You Mind the Fiber Gap?
Just like microbial life is an indispensable part of our ecosystem, microbial biodiversity is essential for human organisms as well. According to researchers it’s been badly damaged by our lifestyle and dietary choices – the so-called fiber gap is a direct consequence of both.
Ultimately, our gut health is what suffers the most. When in shortage of fiber, the good bacteria from our intestinal flora has no probiotics to feed on, which leads to their eventual extinction and triggers a chain reaction that affects other biologically important microbes as well.
However controversial, the Paleo Diet recognizes two crucial changes that differentiate modern-day nutrition from our ancestors’ diet – we now take only a fragment of fiber they ate and, as a result, our gut health has drastically deteriorated.
Here’s how to change that and increase fiber intake.
1. Beans Are a Good Way to Start
Apart from the berries we’ve mentioned before, most of our dietary choices don’t include other fiber rich foods. Avocados, artichokes, coconuts and figs might be too exotic for our Western taste buds, though they are essential sources of this much-needed substance.
Changing your eating habits in such a drastic way may seem overwhelming all at once, so try making small changes and a good starting point is implementing beans into your diet. Only half a cup of a bean serving has around 8 grams of this nutrients, so be sure to stack your pantry with these canned goods. Alternatively, you can replace them with chickpeas, but including them both in your meals is ideal.
2. Choose Nuts Over Snacks
We love our Snickers and granola bars mostly for the chocolate, but it’s their crunchiness that sooths our guts. Though not all kinds of nuts are considered fiber rich foods, most of them are efficient at bridging the gap.
According to their nutritional value, almonds and pistachios are in the lead when it comes to fiber quantities. Both have 3 grams per ounce, along with magnesium, monounsaturated fat, and vitamin E in the first kind and antioxidants in the second. Whichever you choose, you cannot go wrong, since almost every nut is considered a super-food. For this purpose, don’t rely too much on low-fiber walnuts, macadamia and cashews, however tasty they might be.
3. Learn To Love Unusual Kinds of Fruits
Still, nothing closes the fiber gap more easily than fruits. Apples and pears are probably already a part of your regime regardless of how much of a sweet tooth you have, so start exploiting them for fibers as well.
Your fiber rich food fruit salad should include dried figs (an amazing 15 grams per cup), raspberries and blackberries (each 8 grams per cup), avocado (around 6 grams) and cherries (5 grams per cup). When eaten daily, this powerful combination can make your gut healthier than ever and do wonders for the rest of your organism.
4. Be Careful About Your Grain Choices
Always start your day with a whole grain serving! It’s the easiest thing you can do to get powered up in the morning and energized until bedtime, and the most nutritious meal you can prepare on your feet. A single cup of oatmeal comes with 5 grams of fiber, which makes a whole grain breakfast a small adjustment worthy of praise.
Also, be careful about your choices of bread. White flour doesn’t suffice when it comes to fiber-rich dieting nor does it provide enough other nutrients either. Turn to dark rye instead, and your gut will be thankful.
5. Make Your Meals Greener
Even though over 80% of Americans don’t get the best out of their vegetables, salads are still both flavorsome and packed with beneficial nutrients, including fiber. They also don’t require major dietary changes, and can be served with your regular meals and sandwiches for midday snacks.
Now, going fiber-rich in your salad choices doesn’t mean that you should forget about lettuce and tomatoes. Artichokes (6 grams for a medium sized one), spinach (5 grams per cup) and Brussels sprouts (around 3 grams per cup) all make a brilliant addition to every salad and meal, so do your best to learn to love how they taste.
And, remember – even if you’re free of all the symptoms that indicate fiber deficiency, you should still consider making a couple of dietary changes. In one way or another, sooner or later, all of us face the consequences of damaged gut health, and although only one of the possible causes, the fiber gap is the most common one.
4 Warning Signs Your Diet May Lack Fiber
Managing Gut Health through Nutrition
Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits
Dietary Fibre and Health: An Overview