How to get more fiber

Understanding how to get more fiber from our food will probably have a greater effect and make a larger contribution to our wellness than almost any other factor. Along with it comes a vast array of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that otherwise we'd be starved of.

That is a generalisation that one could easily dispute; health is made up of many parts.

But the fact remains that the scientists are saying that sufficient fiber is paramount in wellness. It helps prevent allergies, cancer and the autoimmune diseases, amongst much else. Only 5% of those enjoying typical grocery store food are getting enough; and the average American is eating less than half that recommended by the Institute of Medicine[4].

Only those who have suffered severely from abdominal pain, constipation and generalised inflammation in the body will truly understand just how great a contribution dietary fiber can make to our lives.

In one sense it's astonishingly easy; but for those enjoying typical grocery store meals all may not be plain sailing. Food manufacturers extract most of the fiber so that we do not need to chew; and everything slides deliciously down the throat like a slice of cheesecake.

Salad divineHow to get more fiber

"A cup of cooked oatmeal has 4 grams of fiber and a pear has 6g; while a McDonald’s hamburger has only one and soda has zero."

-  Vox


Ballpark figures

Each and everyone of us should go through the little discipline of estimating just how much fiber we are getting. It will probably take about half an hour; it could literally be a life-changer for you.

There is no need whatsoever to know if you are getting 18.2 grams or 20.3. But it is extremely important to ascertain whether it is more or less than 30g. So let's make some rough estimates.

Start by drawing up a Numbers or an Excel file with everything you ate today; with a guesstimate of the number of grams or cups you enjoyed. There is no need to be precise or to go weighing your food.

You will need three columns. You will quickly notice that I eat differently most likely. Don't be put off by that. Since discovering that fiber was the solution to my bellyache I simply had to ring in the changes; or continue to suffer. A heavy rectal bleed lasting two weeks gave me great motivation! I recommend you act before that day comes.

Then go to Professor Google and type in for example "how much fiber in 1 banana?" Look for an answer in grams.

Breakfast

Eggs Florentine in pan2 grams fiber in 1/2 cup spinach; none in the eggs.

Food

  • Blueberries
  • Grits
  • WW toast
  • Eggs Florentine
  • Smoothie

Measure

  • 10
  • 1 cup
  • 1/2 slice WW
  • 1/2c spinach
  • 1/4 banana
  • 1 TBSP flax
  • 2 passion-fruit

Grams of fiber

  • 0.6g
  • 3g
  • 2g
  • 2g
  • 0.5g
  • 2g
  • 4g

So the total estimated fiber in my breakfast this morning was very roughly about 15 grams.

Maizemeal grits porridgeTrue wholegrain grits

Lunch

Food

  • WW bread
  • Mixed salad
  • Hummus
  • Avocado

Measure

  • 1.5 slices
  • Large
  • 1 TBSP
  • 1/2

Grams of fiber

  • 5g
  • 6g
  • 1g
  • 5g

The rough estimate of the fiber in my lunch is about 17 grams.

Dinner

New potatoes braisedNew potatoes with their skins are rich in fiber

Food

  • New potatoes
  • Gem squash
  • Egg
  • WW wheat toast
  • TOTAL FIBER

Measure

  •  2 medium size
  • 1
  • 1
  • 0.5 slice

Grams of fiber

  • 8g
  • 3g
  • 0g
  • 2g
  • 13 GRAMS

RECOMMENDED DAILY FIBER

More fiber or colorectal cancerMore fiber or colorectal cancer

The RDA is about 30 grams of fiber per day; more for men. That's not enough for me; I would still be constipated. Those eating typical grocery store food get less than half the recommended amount.

Typical meals from our Green Home deliver over 40 grams per day. The stool is a simple, daily two-minute affair; a slippery thin snake that is very easy to pass. Rabbit pellets, thick and painful torpedoes are happily a matter of the distant past; and bleeding piles too but not forgotten.


"The incidence of early-onset colorectal cancer, defined as a diagnosis at younger than age 50 years has been increasing at an alarming rate; doubled in the large bowel and four times in the anal region."

- JAMA Network Open (May 24, 2024)

  • Fresh blood in the stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Altered bowel habits

Whole grains

sourdough bread loafTrue whole-grain bread

Whole grains are very difficult to purchase today. Corn on the cob and brown rice are the exceptions.

Whole grains made up 12 grams of the fiber in my diet today; about one quarter of the total.

There is a Big Fat Lie in corn and wheat today; by worldwide law millers may extract 40% of the goodies, the germ and bran and still label their products as "wholegrain."

Don't believe it when you read that your loaf of bread from the grocery store is "wholegrain." At least a third of the bran has been extracted; that is where the lignans too are found that help prevent malignant breast and prostate tumours.

It's no mystery that the prevalence of cancer is rocketing; especially of the colo-rectal region, the prostate and the breast.

New potatoes

Everything is in the detail when it comes to potatoes. Peeled, from cold-storage and deep fried they are shockingly bad for our health. Lower in fiber, very high GI and generalised inflammation are all the order of the day; they are extremely fattening.

New potatoes, boiled or braised with their skins in olive oil have a large amount of fiber, medium GI and are not fattening; they have a high percentage of resistant starch.

The greens

The greens are personally what really help keep my gut under control; spinach for breakfast, salad for lunch and often broccoli or kale for supper. I also love to put them in a condiment to add to our meals.

Fruit

passion fruit grandillasPassion-fruit is rich in fibre

Fruit makes up an important part of the fiber; the pectin in particular is very soothing for the gut. It makes up 10 grams if you include the avocado.

In those who have a normal fasting blood glucose incidentally, each 100 grams of fruit daily lowers the risk of developing diabetes by 15%; roughly the weight of an apple[1].

Alas that is not true though for those who are insulin-resistant; even the good carbs like apples and new potatoes have to be limited. In nutritional jargon, keep the glycaemic load to under 50 grams; and less for those who are frankly diabetic.

How to get more fiber

Fiber from the gardenFiber from the garden

How to get more fiber to support those friendly bugs in the intestine is today's subject. Gastroenterologists are finding that it plays an extensive role in chronic allergy, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases[2].

Microbiome

The friendly bacteria, viruses and yeast cells in the happy tum are totally dependent on sufficient dietary fiber. Making probiotics like kefir or taking them in supplements is a complete waste of time without foods like these[2].

What food is highest in fiber?

hummus done 4minsWith practice it takes only 4 minutes to make hummus

Firstly may I be abrupt and make a comment about sustainability? There is absolutely no virtue in me telling you that legumes are the best source of fiber if you hate beans.

That's most likely because most of us then think of dried beans or those from a can; I'm not fond of them either. Here are a few words of wisdom from the poet Yeats; fresh, green and straight from the garden they are a quite different.

And what about chickpeas? Could you learn to make hummus twice a week? It takes about five minutes once you are in the groove. How to get more fiber is not rocket science. But it has to be sustainable; don't even start unless you are willing to continue with it.

Since I discovered how much hummus helped my tum I have made ten minutes every week for the last twenty years; not for a moment have I regretted it.

One cup of a cooked legume like chickpeas contains about 15 grams of fiber; nearly a half of your daily needs.

Nuts and seeds come a close second. We mill them and put them into smoothies; you could sprinkle a tablespoon on your cereal. You need one of those cheap coffee-grinders.

Freshly ground nuts and seeds

But the fiber in greens is what really helps my tum; spinach, kale and broccoli. Would having Eggs Florentine for breakfast several days a week be sustainable? That too takes about five minutes.

There are no quick fixes in health. Only start with changes that you are prepared to make the effort to continue with; that's why I despise diets. They simply do not work because they are not sustainable.

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