fiber is so 20th century.
research published and widely publicized in the 1970s, ’80s
and ‘90s highlighted fiber’s role in reducing the risk of
heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders
including diverticulitis, and some cancers — all while
helping to control weight. Save the world with fiber.
the 21st century, fiber no longer gets the attention it once
commanded — save for the occasional fiber bar commercial.
The spotlight now has shifted to the long list of plant foods
including whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables that
contain dietary fiber.
problem is, people never go to restaurants and order fiber
nuggets, or buy a bag of frozen indigestible roughage at the
grocery store. By advocating more consumption of fruits,
vegetables, legumes and whole grains, people, by default,
increase fiber consumption.
yet, the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues designating
dietary fiber as "a nutrient of concern," with the
average consumption rate of 14 to 16 grams a day. Less than 10
percent of Americans consume the recommended levels of 25
grams for women and 33 grams for men.
sources suggest 50 grams a day, twice the currently
recommended levels, which would reflect consumption levels of
whole-plant-food vegans. For example, a 2015 study led by
Stephen O’Keefe, a professor of medicine at the University
of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, showed reductions in colon
cancer among South Africans who regularly consume 50 grams of
fiber daily vs. the 10-gram level of African-Americans, who
also were consuming excess levels of meat and fat.
also continue ignoring the chorus of messages from scientists,
health officials and government agencies that Americans need
more dietary fiber.
a good topic to bring to the surface that’s flipped below
the radar screen and needs to be pulled up again," said
David J. Jenkins, who holds the honorific position of
"university professor" at the University of Toronto.
He developed the Glycemic Index, which assigns a number to
foods to give consumers a way to tell slower-acting "good
carbs" (such as vegetables and whole grains, which keep
blood sugar stable) from the faster "bad carbs"
(such as white bread and refined sugars, which cause blood
sugar to shoot up).
are aware of fiber and shouldn’t be thinking of eating a
certain number of grams of fiber. They should be thinking
about eating more fiber-rich foods."
eat carbohydrates, proteins and fats, the body uses them or
ends up owning them as fat cells. But you only rent fiber that
bulks up food without additional calories and serves as a
gastrointestinal pipe cleaner that takes leave when its
intestinal journey is completed.
little fiber causes constipation — "the most common
gastrointestinal complaint in the United States, and
consumption of fiber seems to relieve and prevent
constipation," states a report by the Harvard T.H. Chan
School of Public Health.
past two years, various studies have shown additional benefits
of dietary fiber.
confirmed dietary fiber to be a primary method of prevention
for cardiovascular disease with reductions in systolic blood
pressure — the higher number — and lower cholesterol
levels, especially LDL cholesterol often described as bad
January 2016 study in the Journal of Diabetes Investigation
found higher intake of fruits and various vegetables,
especially berries and green leafy vegetables, with fiber as a
key factor in lowering the risk of Type 2 diabetes. In June, a
study found that dietary fiber potentially could help
inflammatory bowel disease. A meta-analysis of research in
January found that high fiber intake reduces the risk of
December, another study found an association between dietary
fiber consumption and an overall reduced risk of breast
cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women.
Slavin, a registered dietitian and professor of food science
and nutrition at the University of Minnesota, preaches the
benefits of fiber-rich foods. She headed the Carbohydrate
Committee and served on the protein subcommittee for the 2010
Dietary Guidelines Scientific Advisory Committee. The
recommended 25 daily grams of fiber for women likely will be
boosted to 28 grams — twice the average consumption. But
reaching such levels requires conscious effort.
definitely there is a lack of fiber in the diet," she
said. "Most plant foods only have 1 to 3 grams of fiber,
so unless you eat a lot, it is difficult to consume 25 grams
noted, however, that calorie intake in the United States is
declining, along with stabilization of the obesity epidemic.
That’s good news. The downside is that fewer calories also
mean declining fiber consumption.
any tools to help with weight loss or avoidance of weight gain
— such as high fiber diets — are important messages,"
plant-based foods contain dietary fiber. Cholesterol exists
only in animal-based foods, including dairy, meat and eggs. To
complete the cycle, soluble fiber from plant foods works to
eliminate cholesterol from animal-based foods.
the growing woes of the Western diet, fiber remains as
important as ever in controlling weight and improving health,
with researchers now working to understand the complicated
biochemistry of the gut microbiome and its microflora that
includes numerous types of bacteria.
percentage of one’s stools is bacteria generated by fiber,
which is an indigestible carbohydrate that serves as bacterial
food. Good and bad bacteria feed on foods we eat, with the
immune system also involved as border control, working to
prevent toxins and pathogens from getting into the liver or
bloodstream. Fiber also serves as an intestinal bouncer,
ushering toxins, pathogens and cholesterol out the back door,
various government and research sources report.
are very interested in the effects of fiber on the gut —
stool weight, changes in the gut, microflora and tolerance to
different fibers," said Slavin, who holds a Ph.D. in
supplements such as Metamucil contain psyllium, a fiber that
serves as a laxative while lowering blood lipids
(cholesterol), she said. Eating plants provide the full
regimen of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, among
other nutrients. While fiber bars contain inulin, another good
fiber found in chicory roots and agave, she cautioned that
they also include added sugar and fat, with high calories.
they might be a good choice as an indulgent treat," she
said. "But it’s important to get recommended amounts of
legumes, whole grains, vegetables and fruits, too."
nowadays battle over whether fiber is healthier in natural or
refined form, with pectin, the fiber in apples, actually
showing more healthful benefits when refined into the gummy
gel found in jams, Dr. Jenkins said. Still, an apple eaten off
the tree remains a healthful source of fiber.
the end, he said, it comes down to advising people to eat
foods with fiber, rather than fiber itself. After all, this is
the 21st century.
should eat more fiber, but people don’t actually eat
fiber," he said. "They eat bread and beans. You
should eat a serving of beans every day. Eat oat bran with
berries and nuts for breakfast. Cut out the white flour and
have whole wheat instead and have an apple a day to keep the
doctor away. If you do that, you will get more useful amounts
of fiber and could get something in the order of 25 to 30