As Vital as Pure Air and Water!

Fiber consumption is something we’ve always heard is important yet most people don’t give it a second thought until they have a problem. We have been trained by advertisers to focus on the flavor and convenience of foods over quality. For example, how often do you see whole foods advertised?

Fiber is as essential to a healthy brain and body as pure air and water. The irreplaceable value of fiber and the vital roles it plays in keeping our “second brain” in top notch function is explained in our recent articles “The Exciting Secrets of a High-Fiber Diet” and “Do You Have a Leaky Brain?”.

The Developing Child

Eating adequate dietary fiber is essential for optimal physical and mental development, not just to make bowel movements regular and easy to pass. This may be especially challenging for the picky eaters in your family since meat, eggs, dairy products, refined flour products and fats provide no fiber yet can be tasty and filling, leaving little or no room for high fiber foods.

Developing healthy habits early in life lays a foundation for a strong immune system, level blood sugar levels, appetite and weight control, an optimally functioning gut and blood brain barrier and reduced risk of developmental problems.

It also gets your child/grandchild accustomed to eating a fiber-rich plant-based diet. Eating this way delivers high levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients to keep your child physically and mentally healthy.

If your child is presently accustomed to a low fiber diet don’t immediately jump to high-fiber. Instead make the changes incrementally over several weeks, paying attention to discover what foods are best accepted and enjoyed. Be creative. Introduce new foods slowly and in ways that are as tasty, appealing and enjoyable as possible. Get into the habit of checking fiber content on packaged food labels.

Adult picky eaters are more likely to have leaky gut syndrome, bowel problems, malabsorption syndrome, nutritional deficiencies, blood sugar and weight challenges, attention issues and much more. Avoid passing your food biases on to your kids. (“Yuck- I hate vegetables!”) Encouraging your child to enjoy a variety of natural foods while young will benefit them their entire lives.

The Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board and the American Heart Association have estimated the adequate intake for fiber based on age and gender. Your child’s individual needs may be slightly different.

  • Toddlersup to 3 years old: 19 grams
  • Kids 4-8 years: 25 grams
  • Girls aged 9-18 years: 26 grams
  • Boys 9-13 years: 31 grams
  • Teen boys 14-18 years: 38 grams

Since a child typically eats three meals per day consider planning for 1/3 of the daily recommendation of fiber to be included in each meal should help to easily meet your goal.

Winners in the Fiber Category:

  • Whole fruit
    • Raspberries have the most fiber per serving
    • Avocados deliver approx. 6-7 grams of fiber in half of a medium avocado.
    • Pears and apples
  • Beans, peas and legumes
    • Navy and black beans are highest in fiber of any foods
    • Garbanzos (chick peas) and lentils
    • Green peas
  • Whole grains
    • Steel cut oats
    • Whole grain bread or pasta
    • Whole grain cereals
  • Vegetables
    • Acorn squash tops the list
    • Collard greens take second place
    • Artichoke hearts
  • Nuts and seeds
    • Ground chia seeds and flax seeds are high in fiber and omega-3 fats.
    • Pumpkin seeds are next on the list.
    • Almonds contain three times more fiber than cashews.
  • All plant-based whole foods provide fiber—some more than others. A variety is best!
  • A freshly made green smoothie can be a delicious, nutritious and convenient source of fiber and nutrition. For ideas and more information read: “Green Smoothies—Maximizing the Benefits”.

 For the Grown Ups:

Currently the average US adult consumes about 15 grams of fiber per day. That’s the average, which means that for all of you who eat more than 15 grams there is a large swath of your friends and neighbors who consume far less. Do we really wonder why we are a nation with so many chronic health problems? The target should be a minimum of 21-28 grams for women and 30-35 grams for men, depending on your size and appetite.

This is too important to leave to chance. People on low-carb, ketogenic, paleo or other restricted diets that are unable to consume a wide range of fruits, veggies, beans and whole grains would benefit from daily supplementation with a fiber product that delivers multiple types of fiber and probiotics.

Your body requires both insoluble (doesn’t absorb water) and soluble fiber, ideally along with at least a source or two of resistant starch.

We want to make it easy for you to calculate your daily dietary fiber intake. For those of you (or your kids) who enjoy playing online here’s an easy calculator program to save and use regularly:

If you aren’t online we encourage you to purchase a book with listings of nutrition data for foods, including fiber. The most common portion size in reference books is 100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces.

Healthy Habits® is here to support you to stay vitally healthy in order to live your happiest and most satisfying life. Thank you for sharing our articles and information with your loved ones. We pride ourselves in being a quality resource for you and your family.