The moving facts on Dietary fiber

The moving facts on Dietary fiber

stock photo of happy fiber rich vegetables

“I like to move it, move it!”

Chances are you’ve heard dietary fiber is essential to a healthy diet but what is it exactly and why is it so important? Let’s get into the bulk of it!

Fiber is a group of undigestible plant carbohydrates that adds material to support the movement of food through the digestive system and is often referred to as roughage. Such a simple explanation doesn’t give fiber the full credit it deserves. The interconnectedness that fiber plays in many vital roles in the body is complex and a healthy gut has a cascade effect on multiple systems.  Here are some simple facts for you to digest:

  • Fiber rich foods are whole plant foods such as roots, greens and other vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes and whole grains.
  • Fiber is not found in meats, dairy products, soda and energy drinks, oils and fats and is often completely absent from packaged and processed foods, unless added back in.
  • “White” foods such as white wheat flour for baked goods and pastas and white rice have been stripped of their fiber rich outer layers and are not adequate in dietary fiber.
  • There is no fiber in fruit juices.
  • Food manufactures often use derived or synthetic fibres added back into packaged foods to increase fiber content on the label.
  • Recommended minimum daily intake of fiber is 25 g for women and 38 g for men. The average person consumes only 15 g of fiber per day.
  • It is estimated that 95% of people eating a Western diet are alarmingly deficient in fiber due to the increase intake of processed, packaged and fast foods. It has become one of the most deficient nutrients today.
  • Not all fiber acts the same in the gut and different “fibres” exist supporting the health of the intestinal track making it important to eat a variety of fiber rich foods so they can act together.
  • Soluble fiber absorbs water, like a sponge, through the GI tract and forms a gel like substance that naturally ferments in the gut. Foods like flax, oats and chia are soluble fibres, just think how they get slimy when left to soak.
  • Soluble fiber helps soften stool and manage constipation by absorbing water as it moves through the GI tract.
  • Soluble fiber helps absorb cholesterol and other toxins and eliminate them before they become harmful to the body, thus lowering blood cholesterol levels and risk of cardio-vascular disease.
  • Insoluble fiber acts like an intestinal broom sweeping the tract, creating bulk and moving debris through the gut. Insoluble fiber  remains more or less unchanged and adds material to the stool helping it form and contributing dense prebiotic material. It also slows down digestion and the release of sugars into the blood stream.
  • The combination of fibres working together help regulate bowel movements, prevent hemorrhoids and lessen the incidence of diverticulitis.
  • Fiber contributes prebiotic material for good bacteria to feast upon and helps support a strong gut microbiome which has a cascade effect on health. Fiber is food for the colony!
  • A healthy gut biome can improve mental health and well-being through the gut brain connection.
  • Good gut health helps improve the immune system, lower chronic inflammation and reduce risk of cancers.
  • Good gut health can improve absorption of micro-nutrients and the as-simulation of vitamins and minerals for use in the body.
  • “Starving” the gut of fiber may lead to intestinal bacteria feeding on the mucus lining which is there to protect against harmful pathogens and can result in gut inflammation and lowered immunity.
  • Fiber slows down digestion thus the release of glucose into the blood stream, preventing blood sugar spikes and crashes and improving energy and alertness.
  • Increased fiber intake can be linked to lower incidence of heart disease and stroke.
  • Diabetes can be better controlled with a high fiber diet.
  • The “bulk: of fiber in the gut signals feelings of fullness and satiation helping to regulate cravings, hunger and weight management.
  • Fiber foods are packed with other beneficial properties such as vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients all of which are essential for good health.
  • Eating a diet rich in colourful plant foods reduces risk of chronic illness, extends life span and improves quality of living overall.
  • It is important to drink water with a high fiber diet. Actually, it is just straight up important to drink water, full stop!

Getting enough?

If you are experiencing some of the following symptoms, you may be lacking in adequate fiber intake and it might be time to step up your plant food commitment! 

  • constipation and irregular bowel movements
  • Haemorrhoids and Diverticulitis
  • Cramping, bloating and IBS
  • Lack of feeling full after eating or hungry again quickly
  • Sugar cravings
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Fatigue, energy swings and brain fog
  • Pre-diabetes
  • Persistent weight gain

Narrowing the fiber gap

There are lots of mindful and easy ways to increase your daily dietary fiber. Just remember that the synergistic ally to fiber is water. If you currently have a low fiber intake it is best to add a variety of fiber slowly and up your water intake to avoid indigestion. Try out some of these ideas and get your poop in a group!

  • Eat as close to the source as possible, Mother Nature has given us all we need for good health! Bring it back to the basics and keep it real!
  • Limit “white” processed foods such as white breads, cakes, muffins, pastries, pasta, ram-on noodles and white rice. These foods lack fiber and nutrition and only add increased empty calories.
  • Limit junk foods like potato chips and fast foods.
  • Eat real fruit and limit fruit juices, the lack of fiber contributes to a spike in blood glucose similar to drinking soda.
  • Stock your fridge and pantry with whole plant foods like whole grains, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and beans then eat them! Crowd out the fiber deficient foods with other options.
  • Choose overnight oats or oatmeal, homemade granola, breakfast salads, smoothies, avocado toast on sprouted whole grain breads and plain yogurt with berries and seeds as breakfast options.
  • Add veggies to your morning egg scramble.
  • Make your own healthy muffins and add a bran to them.
  • Eat more salads, stir-fries and soups.
  • Try more veggie based sides.
  • Add fruit and veggies to all your meals and snacks.
  • Add roasted nuts and seeds on top of salads and bowls.
  • Add whole grains, legumes and beans to soups, stews and chilli.
  • Commit to eating less meat and dairy in general.
  • Add cooked lentils to meatloaf or burgers as a half and half substitute.
  • Make your own healthy snacks like seed cookies and power bars or try apples and nut butter and trail mix when a snack attack hits.
  • Keep the skin on your fruit and veggies whenever possible, there is good fiber here!
  • Try using romaine leaves as a wrap substitute for processed wheat products like wraps, pita and buns.
  • Plan ahead and experiment with new recipes that are fiber rich.
  • Enjoy veggies with plant based dips like hummus or cashew.
  • Try roasting chickpeas, edamame or kale for a crunchy high fiber snack.
  • Look for whole seed-crackers and sprouted whole grain bread options.
  • Experiment with grain bowls for lunch or dinner with your favourite veggies, protein and sauces.
  • Try tofu instead of chicken.
  • Try an alternative pancake mix like quinoa flour or buckwheat.
  • Try a bean pasta, whole wheat pasta or quinoa pasta to replace white wheat pastas.
  • Cook up a sweet potato to replace white potatoes and brown rice instead of white.
  • Practice reading labels so you know what you are actually eating.
  • Drink lots of water, can you tell I am an advocate?
  • Choose whole foods over fiber supplements when possible.
  • Consider ground or whole psyllium husk in water to increase fiber intake if needed.

Foods high in fiber include

  • Beans and legumes such as black, navy,  pinto, lima, kidney, soy, garbanzo and mung beans, along with split peas and lentils.
  • Whole grains such as quinoa, oats, millet, brown rice, bulgar wheat and barley.
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, sweet potatoes, winter squash and pumpkin, beets, asparagus,  avocado, parsnips, celery, artichokes, green beans and peas, cabbage and kale (just to name a few).
  • Fruits such as bananas, berries of all kinds, oranges, apples, pears, peaches, plums and dried fruits like dates and prunes.
  • Nuts and seeds such as hemp hearts, chia, flax, walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Fun fact: Popcorn is high in fiber and makes a great snack. Make your own to limit unnecessary ingredients.


Remember that foods that are whole plant foods contain the ingredients for a healthy life! Colourful plant foods contain not only high fiber but also a spectrum of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants that your body needs to thrive. A healthy gut microbiome is the foundation of all other systems in your body from heart health to mental wellness. Fiber isn’t all about digestion but about feeding the trillions of micro-organisms in your gut necessary for you as a whole moving, breathing thinking human being! Good gut health is the foundation of over all health and vitality so get chewing up that plant matter!

Increase your fiber with these recipes:

Asian Style Lentil Lettuce Wraps

Baked Beetroot Falafel

Banana, Peanut butter, Chocolate chip Muffins with Quinoa and Almond Flour

Chick-chee Hummus

Cultured Cashew Spread

Date and Currant Oat-bars – Vegan and Gluten Free

Delicious Grain Free Chocolate Seed Cookies

Easy Oven Baked Kale Chips

Hearty Vegetable and Black Bean Soup with Turkey or Vegetarian

Hearty, Healthy, Homemade Granola

Kale hater Saute

Lemony Beet Root Hummus

Marinaded 4 Bean Summer Salad

Lentil sheperd pie

Mexican Black Bean and Quinoa Salad

Miso marinaded Griled Tofu

Oatmeal Blend for Overnight Oats or Morning Porridge

Red Lentil, Coconut and Tomato Soup

Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted Edamame

roasted garlic and chilli hummus

Sausage and Lentil Stew with Winter Root Vegetables

Simple Autumn Harvest Borscht

Simple Sauteed Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar

Strawberry and Kale Salad with Garlic Citrus Dressing

Strawberry Rhubarb Chia Jam

Suped Up, Savory, Split Pea Soup

Super Slaw with Creamy nutritional Yeast Dressing

Vanilla Green Beans

Vegan Breakfast Links

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Inner Vision Health and Wellness Karyn Lawson RMT INHC