Why you really need more fiber in your diet.

Are you already feeling tempted to ditch all your thoroughly well intentioned resolutions? If getting back to work has sucked the wind right out of your shiny new healthy living plans, don’t fret. You are not alone. Making resolutions turns out to be a whole lot easier than keeping them.

Except maybe this one. Why not just try to eat more fiber? No detailed diet, no crazy menu planning. Just go for fiber whenever it’s doable. As the Atlantic points out, this single change could radically improve your heath by giving your gut bacteria a major jolt. So order a side of veggies instead of mac and cheese and feel like a winner.

Traditional chickpea hummus takes center stage on a raw vegetable cruditeplatter. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)
Traditional chickpea hummus takes center stage on a raw vegetable crudite platter. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group) 

Sadly most Americans only consume about 16 grams of fiber —the parts of plants that can’t be easily digested—per day. That’s a lot less than the 25 to 30 grams that’s recommended.

Take note that obesity is a huge health issue in this country and it seems that the obese eat a lot  less fiber than other people. Even after controlling for other factors, fiber intake is inversely associated with body-mass index, as the Atlantic notes. Eating more fiber even helps overweight people lose weight and body fat. Not to mention reducing breast-cancer risk by lowering estrogen levels in the blood.

Oh, and did we mention the boost in longevity? A diet of high-fiber foods, such as fruits and vegetables, cuts the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and arthritis, as the New York Times reported. Overall, eating more fiber seems to lower people’s mortality rate.

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