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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Making Fiber Fabulous

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GNU Bars
GNU Bars
If you are like the average American, you are getting about 12-15 grams of fiber every day. But that’s not enough. Men, you need about 35 grams a day. Women, you should get around 25 grams. 

Just a quick warning:  Dietitians love to talk about poop and gas. You knew when you clicked on a blog titled “Making Fiber Fabulous” that somewhere along the line poop would be involved.

Fiber is literally indigestible plant matter. Your body tries to digest it and it can’t. So it keeps you full and prevents spikes in blood sugar while it tries to digest, all the while creating poop.

Why Eat Fiber?

  • Fiber may help lower cholesterol (keeps your ticker strong).
  • It increases bulk in the stool (helps you poop).
  • It keeps you full longer (helps you lose weight).
  • It’s good for your intestines (helps your colon).
  • It helps with glucose control (prevent sugar crashes).

So how can you increase your fiber intake? The best way is by eating more foods naturally high in fiber—these include a variety of fruits & vegetables, any types of beans/legumes (learn more at www.thevegetablewithmore.com), and a mix of whole grains such as cereal, oatmeal, pasta, brown rice, bread, and other unique options such as quinoa, bulgur, millet, barley and buckwheat. When looking on a nutrition label, aim for three to five (or more) grams of fiber.

Food Products with Added Fiber

With focus being put on the importance of fiber, many food companies have now made it a priority to create high fiber functional foods, such as Fiber One, Special K High Fiber, Quaker, Kashi, and more. These products add fiber in the form of chicory root or inulin, which you may have seen on your ingredient labels in foods such as cereal, yogurt, and granola bars.

Inulin is a non-digestible form of fiber that is naturally found in foods such as onions, artichokes, and chicory root. When food companies use inulin in their products, it is extracted from these foods, or it is created synthetically. Here’s some more information on this fiber additive:

  • Inulin adds fiber as well as sweetness to foods.
  • It makes a smooth, creamy feeling in your mouth like fat, so many food manufacturers use it as a carbohydrate and fat replacer in their products.
  • It can be added to foods without adding extra calories, making it a desirable and common ingredient.
  • It’s a soluble fiber that dissolves in water. If consumed in large quantities it can sometimes cause a laxative effect in certain individuals, so make sure to increase fiber gradually.
  • Inulin can cause gas in sensitive individuals.

My favorite super high fiber bar is the GNU Flavor and Fiber Bar. YUM-MY!  It doesn’t have inulin (and doesn’t give me gas) but instead has psyllium husk which provides eight grams of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber (equivalent to four bowls of oatmeal!). Try the cinnamon raisin and the banana flavors.

To prevent excess gas (just helping you out):

  • Add fiber slowly to your diet.  Don’t go from 12 grams to 35 grams in one day!
  • Get fiber naturally in foods instead of added fibers that may or may not sit as well.
  • Use Beano with your first bite of high fiber food to prevent gas from forming.
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Tags: Nutrition , Nutrition Trends

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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