I have been chewing on fiber for the entire summer; literally grazing my way through the season on tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, raspberries, apples, plums, carrots, etc. But fiber is hard to come by in the American diet. The primary reason that it is so hard to come by is because Americans process it out of most of our food. And since fiber is only found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains, most Americans are not getting even close to the recommended 20-30 grams a day, simply because most Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.
So, as I have been farming this summer, I have been thinking about fiber and how that if Americans just tried to eat the recommended dietary fiber from unprocessed whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds (not bran muffins), it would radically change our nation’s health profile. If getting enough fiber became our goal, we would accomplish so much more because whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains provide all the other nutrients that are good for our bodies and ultimately our health.
There’s no shortage of research showing how fiber may boost your health. Following are a few of the top potential benefits associated with eating fiber, from an article titled The Health Benefits of Fiber (excerpted from www.mercola.com):
- Blood sugar control: Soluble fiber may help to slow your body’s breakdown of carbohydrates and the absorption of sugar, helping with blood sugar control.
- Heart health: An inverse association has been found between fiber intake and heart attack, and research shows that those eating a high-fiber diet have a 40 percent lower risk of heart disease.
- Stroke: Researchers have found that for every seven-grams more fiber you consume on a daily basis, your stroke risk is decreased by 7 percent.
- Weight loss and management: Fiber supplements have been shown to enhance weight loss among obese people, likely because fiber increases feelings of fullness.
- Skin health: Fiber, particularly psyllium husk, may help move yeast and fungus out of your body, preventing them from being excreted through your skin where they could trigger acne or rashes.
- Diverticulitis: Dietary fiber (especially insoluble) may reduce your risk of diverticulitis – an inflammation of polyps in your intestine – by 40 percent.
- Hemorrhoids: A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of hemorrhoids.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Fiber may provide some relief from IBS.
- Gallstones and kidney stones: A high-fiber diet may reduce the risk of gallstones and kidney stones, likely because of its ability to help regulate blood sugar.
As your fiber faming farmer, I am convinced that if we ate the daily RDAs for fiber, we would be healthier and happier. Eating enough fiber is no small task, and taking a fiber supplement pill doesn’t accomplish the same as eating an apple because where you get that fiber is also important. I am more and more convinced that eating more organically grown whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds will go a long way towards living a vibrant life.