When we fret about the deterioration of the American diet, we tend to focus on the excessive amounts of sugar, salt, and calories we’re now eating. What we don’t talk about: an important ingredient that’s gone missing as we’ve been filling our plates with more chicken and cheese. Fiber.
Only 5 percent of people in the US meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommended daily target of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. That amounts to a population-wide deficiency — what nutritionists call the “fiber gap.” Fiber is the closest thing we have to a true superfood — or super-nutrient since it’s a part of so many different foods. Eating a fiber-rich diet is associated with better gastrointestinal health and a reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes, high cholesterol, obesity, type 2 diabetes, even some cancers. That’s because fiber is amazingly helpful in many ways: It slows the absorption of glucose — which evens out our blood sugar levels — and also lowers cholesterol and inflammation.
Fiber also helps us poop better, and plays a huge role in nourishing our gut microbiome—the ecosystem of microbes in our intestines that are linked to better brain health.
The truth is if fiber were a drug, we’d be all over it. But the average American gets just 16 grams per day — half of what we should be eating. To close the fiber gap, we need to eat more beans, seeds, sweet potatoes, pears, and other fiber-rich foods. And for the full scoop on fiber, have a look here at this extremely detailed piece from Vox. READ MORE
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