Is Fiber the 4th MacroNutrient?
Diets seem obsessed with protein, carbs, fat, and sugar these days.
But we’re not talking enough about what some are considering the “fourth macronutrient.” And it’s huge for health…fiber!
No, fiber isn’t just for “keeping you regular.” In fact, here’s a whole list why fiber is so important:
Fiber detoxifies the digestive system.
Fiber keeps down chronic inflammation.
Fiber can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Fiber can keep blood sugars under control.
Fiber helps prime digestion.
Fiber feeds the microbiome, or gut bacteria.
This by no means is an exhaustive list. There are lots more benefits to eating fiber out there.
You’ll find lots of fiber in a plant-based diet: nuts, seeds, veggies, fruits, and healthy whole grains. If you’re busy and on the go, however, here are some tricks to make sure you’re getting plenty.
Fiber powders, prebiotics, and supplements. These are by far the easiest to find and use if you just don’t have time to cook. They’re easily mixed into beverages or sprinkled on food.
The ingredients can vary: from basic over-the-counter powders to herbs like psyllium husk (a natural herb), plantain, slippery elm, licorice root, and more. Some can also be taken in simple pill or capsule form.
You’ll find this a lot with “prebiotics,” which are called such because they help feed probiotics (beneficial bacteria) and are taken beforehand if you’re supplementing with those.
Seed magic! This is one of my favorites. Seeds like flax and chia are amazing for getting in a lot of fiber with so little. These are easily mixable in beverages and drinks, too.
Go the smoothie (not the juice) route. Juicing moves some of the healthiest stuff right out of fruits and vegetables: the fiber itself. Make smoothies instead, which retain all that good stuff.
Try microgreens and sprouts. If you’ve got a bit of a green thumb, you can even grow these yourself, right in your kitchen. Not only do they add some fiber to any meal, they’re also pretty nutrient dense in other respects (vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants).
Heard of resistant starches? These are kind of like fiber (soluble fiber) and definitely worth checking out. You’ll find them in cooked rice, potatoes, some corn products, oats, quinoa, and more— all foods which have quite a bit of fiber in them, too.
Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains. We’re always finding ways “around” things when it comes to eating healthy, but sometimes the best advice is to just do it the right way in the first place. Easier said than done, but you can’t argue with getting fiber from eating right.
Mushrooms are fantastic! Though they’re not exactly plants (and aren’t technically part of a “plant-based” diet), various mushrooms contain a good amount of fiber— plus a lot more nutrition to offer that some plant-based foods don’t, such as higher protein and (in some cases) vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
Not eating enough fiber? This should be more than enough to get you started with.
It’s always wise to check with a qualified health practitioner before making major changes to diet or lifestyle. And by all means, do your own research! Good health always starts today.