The typical American diet is low in fibre, a plant element that’s vital for physical wellbeing. Fibre passes through the digestive system mostly intact, but along the way, it supports healthy gut bacteria and lowers cholesterol levels.
High-fibre diets also support healthy bowel movements and make people feel full, which can help them maintain a healthy weight. For these and other health reasons, it’s important to incorporate adequate fibre into your diet.
Adding fibre into your diet is easy. Here are six tips for getting started:
1. Ask Yourself This Question
Because fibre is found in plants, there’s an easy way to identify foods that are good sources of fibre. Simply ask yourself this question: Does this food grow outside? If the food item is plant-based and grows out of the ground, it has some form of fibre.
The next time you go grocery shopping, take a moment to survey your shopping cart. How many of the items you’re purchasing can be grown? How many elements of your boxed foods are plant-based? What items in your cart aren’t grown, and what function do they serve in your diet?
2. Create a Fibre Battle Plan
Meal planning is an incredible way to strategise your fibre intake. Instead of buying what looks good, start choosing foods that treat your body well. As you adjust to healthy levels of fibre, you’ll start to feel better, and your taste buds will adjust to enjoy healthier foods.
Nutritionists suggest that the average adult eats between 25 to 38 grams of fibre a day. Too much fibre can lead to side effects like bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. However, because most American diets have chronically low levels of fibre, overdoing it is not usually a problem.
3. Switch out Processed Foods
Processed foods are typically stripped of their natural sources of fibre. For instance, refined white flour is missing most of its nutritional value and fibre. Another example is healthy juices – although these products contain many nutrients, the fibrous parts of plants are processed out during the juicing process.
Replacing processed foods with raw or cooked whole foods will reinstate fibre back into your life. For example, you could buy whole wheat bread or flour instead of white, processed grains. Instead of eating processed cereal, consider having oatmeal or adding bran to your cereal bowl.
4. Pick a High-Fibre Meal
If adding fibre to your whole diet seems overwhelming, try eating one fibre-packed meal a day. Changing even one meal can improve your whole diet and significantly increase your fibre intake. You could even adapt one meal a week until you become more familiar with fibre-filled recipes.
High-fibre options for breakfast include oatmeal, chia seeds, almonds, avocado, and berries. Lunch is the perfect opportunity to introduce fibre-rich greens such as kale and spinach into your diet. Add bulgar wheat to salads for an extra fibre boost. Dinners can include legumes like split peas and beans and high-fibre vegetables like broccoli and carrots.
5. Snack on High-Fibre Foods
Snacking is often mindless and tends to center on foods that are convenient rather than healthy. Prepping high-fibre snacks can help you cut these unhealthy foods out of your diet. In addition, healthy snacks will put fibre within easy reach throughout the day.
Great snack-sized sources of fibre include chopped fruits and vegetables. Switch out different types weekly for variety and added nutritional value. Other fibre-dense snacks include nuts and seeds like almonds, pistachios, peanuts, chia seeds, flaxseed, and poppyseeds. In addition to fibre, nuts and seeds are a source of healthy fats.
6. Make Sure You’re Chewing
Foods with high levels of fibre require a lot of chewing. Think of a rabbit eating their daily meal – all that chewing is breaking down fibre-filled plants so this animal can access the nutrients integrated into the plant material. The same thing is true for you!
The next time you eat, pay attention to how much you need to chew. If most of your food is soft or in liquid form, you’re probably not getting enough fibre in your diet. In addition to benchmarking fibre intake, chewing can also improve digestion and increase feelings of fullness.
A Fiber-Rich Diet
Fibre is incredibly good for your body, regulating important physical functions and helping you to feel satisfied after meals. In addition to improving your digestion, fibre-rich foods also include many vitamins and minerals that will boost your mood and strengthen your body.
Many Americans don’t eat enough fibre, but incorporating fibre-rich foods into your diet is easy. Follow these six tips to increase your fibre intake and reap the many benefits of a fibre-rich diet.