Fiber: Do you get enough and why is it important?

by richard on September 30, 2015

As a vegan (from now on read whole food, plant-based guy) I am often asked, “where do you get your protein?” My answer is another question, “where do you get your fiber?”  The strong association between optimal health and animal protein (meat, chicken, eggs, fish, diary) is a marvel of decades of brilliant marketing and the subject of another post. Only 3% of Americans eat less than the minimum amount of protein, 42 grams, a day. Protein is not the problem.  We’re here to talk fiber.

97% of Americans are deficient in this one very important nutrient. Less than 3% of us get enough fiber.

How much do Americans get? On average, 15 grams a day. The recommended daily amount? 31.5 grams per day. We get less than half the RDA with men being particularly deficient. In a study of 12,761 Americans the percentage of men between the ages of 14 and 50 who get the recommended intake of fiber was ZERO. That is shocking to me.

Dietary fiber is shown to be critically important in helping manage diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, various types of cancer, high cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugars. So, why aren’t people eating more of this important stuff?

One of the main reasons people don’t eat enough fiber is no one knows what it is and where it comes from. FLASH: fiber only comes from plants. There isn’t any fiber in meat, dairy or eggs and only small amounts in junk food.

96% of Americans don’t eat the RDA of greens or beans and 99% don’t eat the RDA of whole grains. All of these are rich sources of fiber. It should be noted that drinking greens or fruit as in a kale smoothie with fruit in it is not the same as eating the kale and the fruit. The fiber is chopped up by the blender and not as effective in slowing the absorption of the natural sugars from the kale and fruit. Eat your fiber, don’t drink it.

When increasing the amount fiber in your diet it is best to do so gradually, 5 grams a week or so until you reach the RDA.  Semi-vegetarians eat the minimum amount of fiber and people who are totally plant based eat three times the minimum. Get in the habit of eating plant based foods at every meal.

There is so much more info on the science behind all of the things I’ve mentioned here. Go to NutritionfFact.org, the website of Dr. Michael Greger. Dr. Greger bases all his articles, videos, presentations, and books on established research.

Thanks for reading. Get in touch with any comments or questions.

About

Richard Maas is a Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Lymphatic Therapist, drummer, and gardener. He and his wife Dianne started practicing massage in 1990.

Previous post:

Next post: