Nutrition is important at any age. But as we get older, we begin to reap the results of our eating habits. This is the point in time at which many of us find ourselves saying, “I wish I had taken better care of myself when I was younger”!
Luckily, it’s never too late to implement better dietary habits, and to make changes that can ward off the development of serious diseases. One such change should be including more fiber in your diet.
Did you know that the average American diet is severely deficient in fiber? According to dietary recommendations, most of us are eating only about half of the fiber we should be consuming. Women should be getting at least 25 grams of fiber from their diets each day, whereas men should be aiming for about 38 grams… Yet the average American only consumes about 15 grams daily.
Why is fiber so important? Numerous scientific studies have concluded that adequate fiber intake is linked to lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Everyone should pay attention to their fiber intake, but if you’re at increased risk of these conditions you should take extra care to eat more fiber. This is especially important if any close relatives have been diagnosed with cancer of the colon or digestive tract, or if your own doctor has informed you of increased risk.
Fiber can also help with weight loss or management. A high-fiber diet aids digestion and helps you feel full, aiding in weight loss or maintaining your current weight. Since weight is so closely linked with disease prevention, eating a healthy diet likely benefits you in multiple ways.
Eat the right type of fiber. As you seek to add more fiber to your diet, we urge you not to rely solely on food labels. Many processed, packaged foods contain added fibers that are often synthetic in nature, and might not even provide any dietary benefits. Instead, seek to fulfill your body’s requirements by eating foods that are naturally high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, and oatmeal.
As always, consult with your primary physician if you’re concerned about disease prevention and your diet. Your doctor can make recommendations based on your personal health screenings and dietary needs.