How Much Fiber Do You Need?
- By: Phil Tucker
When we consider healthy diets we often obsess about the more recondite and abstruse aspects of our nutrition plans. Are we getting enough Omega-3's? Are we eating enough protein relative to our carb intakes, and is there too much fat in our food? Are we getting enough of all our vitamins and minerals, how bad is processed food, should we eat organic or not? These questions are all valid, but often we overlook the basic questions that are so old that we ignore them even while not knowing the answers ourselves. When it comes to fiber everybody rolls their eyes, knowing we should eat plenty, but how much is that, exactly? Should you eat a little, a medium amount, or lots? How much is lots, anyway? In today's article we take a good look at fiber, and try to answer this surprisingly complicated question for you.
First off, it's important to note that while fiber will improve your health, it is not an essential nutrient in your diet. Thus you would not die if you never ate a single piece of fiber again, though you may regret this decision when it comes time to go to the bathroom. If you follow the American Dietetic Association's recommendations you should be eating about 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day, which is roughly about 10 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories. Most people only get about 10 grams of fiber a day, and thus would benefit from eating much more.
When you consider our past as hunter gatherers, it quickly becomes obvious that we used to eat absolutely tons of fiber, since most of our food came in the form of vegetables and fruit, and thus people have speculated that we might eat anywhere from 100 grams to 150 grams of fiber a day. This would reflect their greater health in general, since vegetables and fruits are packed with other great nutrients that would help us do really well.
Therefore, if you take our heritage into account, we should aim to eat anywhere from 5 grams to 10 grams of fiber in each meal, which would put us above the minimum suggest at a comfortable 30 to 60 grams each day. This means you should eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables throughout your day, and try to vary up the colors as much as you can to derive as much health benefits as you can.
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