Fiber gap

Fiber gap

Only 5 percent of people in the US meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommended daily target of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. That amounts to a population-wide deficiency.

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Nearly all Americans fail to eat enough of this actual superfood

vox.com

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Closing the fiber gap

Consider snacking on whole fruits, replacing white bread with whole-grain alternatives, eating potatoes with the skins on, and tossing berries, nuts, and seeds on your yogurt, cereals, or salads, Lots of small changes can add up. If you like smoothies, throw your fruits, veggies, and nuts in a blender. Even baking does not destroy most fibers.

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Types of fiber

Fiber is a group of different kinds of plant-based carbohydrates that affect our gastrointestinal tract in myriad ways:

  • fiber can be soluble (meaning it dissolves in water);
  •  viscose (gel-forming);
  • fermentable (bacteria can metabolize it).

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Processed foods and fiber

Instead of munching on fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds, more than half of the calories Americans consume come from ultra-processed foods. On any given day, nearly 40 percent of Americans eat fast food. These prepared and processed meals tend to be low in fiber, or even fiber free. 

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Benefits of a fiber-rich diet

Eating a fiber-rich diet is associated with better gastrointestinal health and a reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes, high cholesterol, obesity, type 2 diabetes, even some cancers. Fiber slows the absorption of glucose — which evens out our blood sugar levels — and also lowers cholesterol and inflammation.

Fiber doesn’t just help us poop better — it also nourishes our gut microbiome.

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Added Sugar vs. Natural Sugar
  • Added sugar is unfriendly to our health. It can be found in most food products we come across. It is absorbed by the body quicker unlike natural sugar.
  • Processed food is digested quickly as soon as it enters out intestine while fiber-rich foods break down slowly and travel farther down the digestive track making us feel fuller.
  • Foods containing natural sugar and fiber allow the body to feed the healthy bacteria in our gut and supports the health of our own microbiome.

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Dried Fruit, Oats and Coffee: Answers to Your Sugar Questions

nytimes.com

Microbes

Research found the following difference in stomach microbes of different individuals:

  • Intestinal microbes of people living in villages, having a natural diet, are much more complex, and can degrade fiber.
  • People in cities, eating a western diet, have microbes in their stomach adapted towards processing protein, fats, and sugars.

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How the Western Diet Has Derailed Our Evolution - Issue 30: Identity - Nautilus

nautil.us

Western vs. Mediterranean diet

Western diet, typically high in animal fat and protein and low in fibre, increases the risk of cancer. The Mediterranean diet is high in fibre and low in red meat and has been likened with anti-inflammatory effects and an improved immune system.

This leads us to the conclusion that gut health, favoured by fibre, is a reason for longevity of people following the Mediterranean diet.

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What we do and don't know about gut health

bbc.com