top of page

10 {Fun} Facts About Fiber and How to Boost it for Health

Updated: May 30, 2022

Well, I don't know if all of these facts are necessarily fun, but in order to grab your attention, inserting the word "fun" seemed like a good idea. Plus, alliteration is always fun (hello, purely planted!).

First, why should we care about fiber?

Less than five percent of Americans get the recommended amount of fiber each day. Just checking if you heard that? Less than five percent of Americans get the recommended amount of fiber each day. That number blew me away when I first read it. In fact, I had to check my own fiber intake. Odds are that you may not be receiving enough fiber throughout the day. If you're experiencing digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, sugar cravings, weight gain or an array of other health-related complications, it could be due to inadequate fiber intake.

The recommended amount of fiber is 25 grams a day for women and 38 grams a day for men (based on 14 grams per 1000 calories). These are the minimum recommendations. Most people get less than 15 grams a day. That's a lot of constipated people! No wonder over 22 million people from the United States alone visit their physicians office each year with the primary complaint of digestive issues. For reference, our ancestors consumed 100 grams a day. While fiber is ultra important for preventing constipation and digestive issues, it does So.Much.More., as you'll see below.

Fiber plays a major role in digestion by keeping things moving through smoothly and taking unwanted pathogens (that create disease) with it in the process. It also helps to stabilize blood sugar, reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Fiber is also the foundation for a healthy gut, which is where over 70 percent of our immune system lives and 90 percent of serotonin receptors are located (the neurotransmitter that makes you feel a sense of well-being). These are just a few of the magical benefits of fiber, not to mention all of the nutrients that accompany fiber. Many phytonutrients, or nutrients found only in plants that have massive healing effects on the body from skin health to brain health to gut health, are attached to fiber. When we eat foods with fiber we are also eating hundreds of nutrients that keep our bodies functioning at its best.

Here's the catch — fiber is only found in plant-based foods. In order to get enough fiber, it's important to consume enough plants. Dairy, meat, chicken, and fish have zero fiber (and zero healing phytonutrients). Not only are you not getting fiber and phytonutrients from animal products, but you're also getting saturated fat and potentially trans fat, hormones, antibiotics, plastic and chemicals (see my article "What's Wrong With Fish?").

The case for fiber is strong and the list of benefits can be long, but I've narrowed it down to ten good reasons to eat more fiber followed by ten ways to incorporate more fiber into your diet today.

  1. Lack of fiber can lead to digestive issues and constipation. Receiving the minimum amount of fiber each day (25 grams a day for women and 38 grams a day for men) plus plenty of water to keep the fiber moving can help to keep things flowing smoothly through the digestive system.

  2. Fiber is the foundation for a healthy gut. By now you've heard that a healthy gut is important. There are trillions of bacteria in our gut that help to keep the gut functioning at its best. The gut can dictate the fate of the immune system, inflammation, and neurotransmitters, which is why you often hear a healthy gut leads to a healthy mind. What fuels these healthy bacteria? Fiber! Without fiber you cannot have a healthy gut. In fact, research shows that when we don't have enough fiber (food) for the bacteria, they can start chowing down on our protective gut mucosal barrier—yikes!

  3. Fiber helps to balance hormones (including estrogen and hunger hormones). If you're experiencing symptoms of excess estrogen or often feel hungry right after you eat, chances are you may not be receiving enough fiber. Excess estrogen in the body is removed by fiber and fiber triggers hormones that signal you're full.

  4. Fiber helps you fill up quickly and keeps you full longer resulting in less empty calories consumed at that meal and in subsequent meals. This helps you naturally stop eating when you're full and can help minimize overeating and excess caloric intake at that meal and in subsequent meals. If you're trying to manage weight, fiber is key.

  5. Fiber helps to control blood sugar. Fiber also helps to allow for a slow release of blood sugar into the blood stream. Picture fiber as holding onto the carbohydrates in that meal and slowly releasing just a little bit at a time over the period of 2-3 hours. This results in a steady stream of blood sugar that can be used by our cells for energy (i.e. sustained, steady energy!) as opposed to a meal that has no fiber. Processed carbohydrates (that have been stripped of fiber) can enter the blood stream rapidly. All of that sugar dumped into the bloodstream at once most likely can't be entirely used for energy, therefore it'll be stored as body fat. Plus, it creates an insulin surge (the hormone that takes sugar out of the bloodstream) followed by an insulin crash, which triggers a desire for more sugar or carbohydrate. Over time this can lead to weight gain, blood sugar and mood swings and unhealthy eating patterns.

  6. Fiber may reduce risk of lifestyle diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and possibly Alzheimer’s disease. Soluble fiber, found in oats, beans and apples, can lower cholesterol and blood sugar, resulting in reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. Insoluble fiber found in whole grains, nuts and vegetables adds bulk to stool and may help food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines, decreasing the risk of colon cancer. High-fiber diets may also reduce brain inflammation, which in turn could mean less cognitive decline and memory loss with age, and decreased risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

  7. Fiber may protect against breast cancer. Observational studies demonstrate that high fiber intake is associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. Researchers believe that fiber may reduce breast cancer risk by controlling blood sugar and decreasing estrogen levels.

  8. Studies show that eating high fiber foods may help to boost mood and cognition, and reduce anxiety. High fiber intake may reduce the risk for symptoms from depression, according to this study. A possible mechanism is fiber’s ability to alter the gut microbiota to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

  9. Fiber helps produce short chain fatty acids in the colon through feeding healthy bacteria in our gut. Short chain fatty acids can help to regulate metabolism, enhance mineral absorption, improve the gut mucosal barrier (and decrease pathogens that enter the bloodstream) and improve mood to name a few.

  10. Fun fact! Fiber is only found in plant-based foods like beans, peas, lentils, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Eating a wide variety of plant-based foods has been shown to create a healthy gut.

Ten Ways to {Easily} Boost Fiber

  1. Swap whole grains for processed white carbohydrate foods (whole grain bread, whole grain pasta or brown rice for white bread, pasta or rice).

  2. Eat 1/2-1 avocado a day (almost 10 grams of fiber per avocado!).

  3. Add 1-2 Tbsp chia seeds to smoothies or smoothie bowls (bonus that you also get tons of omega 3’s!)

  4. Include three plant-based colors with each meal (for example add blueberries, banana and chia seeds to oatmeal; tomato, leafy greens and red onion to a sandwich; radish, kimchi and sprouts to avocado toast).

  5. Snack on a handful nuts and seeds or toasted chickpeas rather than chips.

  6. Include your favorite veggies at each meal.

  7. Layer your meals with plants (add radish and greens to avocado toast, include tomato and red onion to a sandwich or add sprouts, greens and carrots to a wrap).

  8. Swap eggs in baked goods with a chia or flax "egg." (One tablespoon of chia or flax meal + 3 tablespoons of water = 1 egg.)

  9. Swap a bean burger in place of a traditional hamburger one day a week.

  10. Try Meatless Monday or one meal a day that is all plant-based (lots of recipes to try from this blog!)

Share with a friend who needs more fiber in their life!

And get more fiber-licious ideas, tips and fun facts, plus 40 recipes, a 14 day meal plan and grocery shopping list in “The Fiber Effect: Stop Counting Calories and Strat Counting Fiber for Better Health.”

And, sorry wine lovers, there is no fiber in wine.

Want to dive further into plant-based eating?

Visit all plant-based recipes here.

Visit the blog for more plant-based articles here.

Get 5-minute plant-based dressing recipes here. (FREE!).

Book a 15-minute FREE consultation here.

Get a customized weekly meal plan with recipes and shopping lists, as well as email and texting support here ($97 a month).

photo courtesy of Danielle Ryan, a Fiber Effect reader from Vermont


bottom of page