In the world of health, there are so many “sexy” subjects to talk about—how to lose weight (flatten your tummy, lose your gut!), how to make your skin glow (you look so young!), or how to make sure your ticker has the strength of an ox and the longevity of a redwood (live long, my friend!).
We spend a lot of time on subjects that resonate with people, as we all pursue our goals when it comes to youthfulness, longevity, and optimum health.
Something that doesn’t typically make the list of top-tier topics that make for fun fodder at the dinner table: Fiber.
Hey, how’s your fiber intake today? Poppy, please pass the Metamucil. Everything running smooth, you know, in those colon-colored train tracks of yours?
I get it. It’s not exactly the kind of stuff that makes for spiffy magazine headlines, but it is the kind of stuff that will absolutely help you reach your health and wellness goals. That’s important because the reality is that most people (upwards of 90 percent) do not get the recommended amount of 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day.
For me, this was one of the hardest changes I made when I revamped my diet to reduce processed foods and eat more whole ones, because, frankly, it’s not easy to get that much fiber every day. You have to make a concerted effort to add more legumes, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, and fruits with the skin left on—all of which are rich in fiber.
I did it with a lot of help from my wife, who made sure I subbed out the bowl of chips for a bowl of berries (admittedly, I didn’t like it at first, but I grew to love the change). Another one of my favorites: peas. I love them on salads and to mush them up and eat them by themselves. The point, of course, is that you don’t need to like what I like, but you should be aware of your fiber intake and find the foods that you can add to your diet to increase the amount you eat (and add with a supplement if you like).
Why? Because the benefits of getting enough fiber extend far beyond making sure your gut-centric trains run on time.
The reason why you want to add more fiber isn’t just so you get more alone time in the bathroom to play Wordle (though improved digestion is surely one of the main advantages of having a healthy intake of fiber). It’s also because increased fiber has many benefits, such as:
- Weight control: Research shows that increasing fiber intake helps support a healthy weight and waist size.
- A healthier microbiome: Because fiber has a complex structure, it helps diversify your microbiome, which can help support overall health.
- Liver health: Fiber has been shown to optimize the ability of the liver to detox and support immune function.
One note of caution: In the first few days of a fiber increase, you may experience a little GI distress as your body adjusts. But that won’t last long. If symptoms are severe, you should back off a bit. For me, I’ve really seen benefits when it comes to digestive health, energy, and also in terms of the quality of my sleep.
My Favorite Way to Sneak It In
My wife, who is of Indian descent, makes a wonderful dish called dahl. Its base is lentils—with lots of amazing and tongue-tickling spices. We have that with rice maybe twice a week or so, and it’s a wonderful way to make sure I have more fiber during the week. (There are plenty of great recipes for dahl online, and I encourage you to give it a try.)
I also think about adding more fiber in other meals as well, like having spicy pinto beans with steak (rather than the standard potato), or having whole grains, breads, and pasta. And I have to say, my son is becoming a sourdough aficionado, and he’s making a killer whole-grain sourdough bread, so I’m getting lots of fiber there as well.
My point: You don’t have to pummel your insides with apples and nuts every day. You can experiment, you can use herbs and spices, you can find foods that are healthy—and play with ways to turn them from gotta-have-them foods into really-love-them ones.
How to Supplement with Fiber
SPONSORED: My company, Usana, has an excellent fiber product called Fibergy Active, which you can add in as a way to seamlessly boost your fiber intake every day.