Dangerous Signs You’re Not Eating Enough Fiber
Curious to uncover one of the most effective weight loss and health secrets of all time? A trick that all but ensures you’ll remain full and satisfied while shedding pounds? The answer is pretty simple: Eat more fiber, something a lot of people aren’t currently doing.
See, Americans should consume 28 grams of fiber per day if they’re following a 2,000 calorie diet, according to the FDA. But many of us aren’t getting anywhere close to that amount. Experts estimate that 95% of American adults aren’t meeting the recommended intake of fiber per day. A report from the Food and Drug Administration states that the average American woman eats only 15 grams of fiber a day, while the average adult man consumes just under 19 grams per day. For a point of reference, that’s the equivalent of consuming just one large apple and three tablespoons of chickpeas—which is practically nothing!
The oft-overlooked nutrient, which is the indigestible material found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, is both extremely filling and brimming with health benefits—making it a vital component of every diet. And when you’re not consuming enough fiber, things might be going awry in your body that you’re totally unaware of. Read on to find out if you aren’t consuming enough fiber, and for more on how to eat healthy, make sure you avoid these 100 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet.
1. You Get Backed Up
Constantly feeling “backed up” in the bathroom may be a sign you’re coming up short on fiber, says registered dietitian-nutritionist Ilyse Schapiro, MD, RD, CDN. “Having a fiber-rich diet allows more water to remain in your stool, making it easier to pass through your intestines. When we don’t get enough fiber, it slows down our digestive system and makes it harder for us to eliminate our waste.” Add more of these high fiber foods to your daily diet to keep things moving along smoothly and ensure you hit the nutritional mark on the reg.
2. You’re Always Hungry
If you’ve ever eaten a huge tray of chicken nuggets and fries only to find your stomach growling soon after, it’s likely because your meal lacked fiber. Fiber helps to slow the digestion process and keep your blood sugar levels stable, helping you feel fuller for longer. Plus, when a specific type of fiber, soluble fiber, is fermented in the large intestine, your body produces two gut hormones that play a role in inducing satiety. Adding a fiber-rich food like avocados, beans, brown rice, and pears to your meals and snacks will help keep those post-meal tummy rumbles at bay—and can subsequently aid weight loss efforts. Whatever you do, though, just steer clear of these worst added-fiber foods.
3. You’ve Gained Weight
“When we don’t eat enough fiber, we tend to be hungrier and are more prone to overeating,” explains Schapiro. As you can assume, with overeating comes weight gain. So the opposite is true: when you do eat fiber, you’ll feel fuller and can lose weight. One study found that when participants added just 8 grams of fiber to their daily diets over the course of 20 months, they lost an average of 4.4 pounds — most of which was body fat. So if you start to see the scale creeping up, it might be time to take a look at your diet to identify whether you’re eating enough fiber.
4. You’re Sleepy All the Time
Besides upping your risk for diabetes, seesawing blood sugar levels can also leave you feeling lethargic—even if you got plenty of shut-eye the night before. When you don’t eat enough fiber, your body digests simple carbohydrates more quickly, which are then released into your bloodstream rapidly. To keep your energy and blood sugar levels stable throughout the day, reach for a fiber-filled source of complex carbs with a bit of protein and fat. A slice of Ezekiel bread topped with a tablespoon almond butter (4 g fiber, 7.5 g protein, 9.5 g fat) is an easy way to sneak in all those prime energy-boosting nutrients at once.
5. You Have High Cholesterol
The less soluble fiber you consume (that’s the kind found abundantly in oatmeal, beans, and brussels sprouts), the higher your risk for high cholesterol climbs, according to a meta-analysis published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Scientists hypothesize that fiber acts like a magnet as it moves through the intestine, attracting and carrying out the artery-clogging plaque that would otherwise spike cholesterol levels.
6. You’re constantly suffering from gastrointestinal issues, like bloating
It sounds counterintuitive, but you can feel bloated when you don’t eat enough fiber just like how you can feel bloated when you eat too much fiber. In fact, the two are linked. Typically, you feel bloated after eating too much fiber because your diet is lacking in fiber to begin with. Fiber is an indigestible carb, which means that your body doesn’t break it down to use for energy. Instead, your body uses it as either bulk for your stool or as food for your healthy bacteria. As the bacteria break down the fiber, it releases gas, which can cause bloating. If you haven’t been feeding your good gut bugs in a while, it may take them a while to figure out how to break this food down again. That’s why dietitians recommend increasing your fiber intake slowly—this will allow your system to readjust and prevent.
7. A blood test says you have other nutrient deficiencies.
If you’re not eating fiber-rich foods like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and veggies, there’s a good chance you also may not be getting enough of the other health-protective nutrients found of those foods. Check in with your M.D. if you know you’re not consuming much fiber to make sure you don’t have any type of major nutritional deficiency. A multi-vitamin and a well-rounded diet can likely help you get back on track towards better health. And speaking of vitamins, learn all there is to know about popping those Flinstones in our exclusive report, what you need to know before taking vitamins!
8. You’ve recently developed diabetes.
Get this: People who regularly eat low-fiber, fast-digesting high-glycemic foods like white bread, cookies, soda, and white rice, are more than twice as likely as those who regularly consume the nutrient to develop type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, those who consume the highest amount of fiber, and cereal fiber, in particular, have the lowest risk of diabetes, according to a recent review. What’s the connection? “Foods rich in fiber help to prevent blood sugar and insulin spikes, that over time could lead to diabetes,” explains Schapiro.
9. You’ve been diagnosed with heart disease.
When your cholesterol levels are out of a healthy range—as a result of a low-fiber diet or otherwise—it can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, according to U.S. National Library of Medicine data and findings published in the journal Stroke. That’s because both stroke and heart disease are brought on by the buildup of plaque in the arteries. To help your ticker stay healthy for years to come, be sure to avoid these worst foods for your heart.