Being in the fitness industry, I am accustomed to having almost daily conversations regarding nutrition and dieting. I will be the first to say that I am by no means a nutritionist or dietician, but during my career in health and fitness, as well as food retail and distribution, I have acquired a great deal of knowledge on the subject. One thing I hear quite often when discussing a plant-based diet (which I have experimented with on and off through the years) is “Well, where do you get your protein?” The debate of plant-based eating vs. carnivorous eating and everything in between is not one that I want to get into today as I truly do not believe there is a one-size-fits-all diet, but I would like to talk about another question we should ask ourselves – “Where do you get your plant fiber?”
According to the New York Times, the average American consumes about 100 grams of protein per day, almost twice the daily recommended amount of 56 grams. This tells us that as a whole, we are eating way too much protein and we are not in any way in a protein shortage crisis. However, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the average American only consumes 10-15 grams of fiber per day, way less than the recommended 25-30 grams per day. So instead of worrying about where we are getting our protein from, we need to instead turn our focus on where we are getting are fiber.
Why is this? Why do we need to consume plant fiber as part of a healthy diet? And where are good sources for plant fiber? There are two types of fibers and both are found only in plants. There is soluble fiber which is found in beans, oats and other legumes as well as some fruits and veggies and there is insoluble fiber which may be found in whole grains, bran and also certain fruits and veggies. Soluble fiber is critical in regulating cholesterol levels in the body while insoluble fiber acts as a broom that cleans out the digestive system and helps to maintain gut health. As the fiber cleans out your system, it is also helping to rid your body of carcinogens and excess estrogen and cholesterol that would otherwise recirculate in the body. These are just some of the many roles fiber plays in maintaining a healthy you.
Here are a list of some of the top sources of fiber that you can find in your local grocery store or farmer’s market – or that you can grow yourself:
- Black beans
- Artichoke hearts
- Brussels sprouts
- Lima beans
- Sweet potato
In 2020, make a goal to focus on eating more plant fiber – your body will thank you later!