Gluten-free diets are notoriously low in fiber. Many gluten-free products, especially packaged items such as crackers, breads, baked goods, and flours tend to be lower in fiber than their gluten-containing alternatives.
Fiber feeds our gut microbes, who turn around to keep our gut lining healthy, balance our immune system, and decrease inflammation. Fiber also helps to…
- Keep us fuller longer
- Balance blood sugar
- Bind bile to eliminate toxins and cholesterol
- Regulate bowel movements
- Lower risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, and Type II diabetes
The recommended daily amount of fiber for women is about 25 grams per day. Yet, only 5% of the American population is getting enough, and this is far less than our ancestors ate. Without fiber, our gut microbes start starving and can’t do their many jobs.
Before you start increasing fiber, however, keep the following in mind:
- Take it slow! Increasing fiber too fast can lead to more GI discomfort, as your gut needs to adapt.
- Those with any gut issues or conditions such as IBS, IBD, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, etc. should always work with a healthcare professional to do this safely.
- Ensure you’re getting enough water to prevent constipation. A good rule of thumb for daily water intake is half one’s body weight in ounces. For example, a person weighing 200 lbs would need approximately 100 ounces per day of water.
Getting more fiber doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are 15 easy ways to get more fiber in your life!
- Eat a variety of gluten-free whole grains instead of refined ones
Everyone is familiar with rice, but there are many other options! These include buckwheat, teff, sorghum, quinoa, amaranth, millet, and corn. Teff, quinoa, and buckwheat are especially high in fiber.
2. Add some beans to soups or salads
A half cup of most beans contains about 6-8g of fiber. You can even make yummy blondies out of beans!
3. Make a pasta sauce with half ground meat and half lentils
This is an easy way to incorporate high-fiber lentils!
4. Snack on nuts and fruit
Nuts, seeds, and fruit are all good fiber sources and a great way to level up your snack routine. One of the best fruits to incorporate is kiwis, as there are studies showing that two kiwis/day can help with constipation.
5. Substitute avocado or hummus for mayo
Avocado is usually thought of as a healthy fat, but it’s also high in fiber.
6. Add ground flax seeds to yogurt, gluten-free oatmeal, or smoothies
Start slow at 1-2 teaspoons/day and work up to 2 tablespoons/day.
7. Make chia pudding
Chia pudding is an easy snack or breakfast to prepare that’s rich in fiber and healthy fats.
8. Have raspberries and dark chocolate for dessert
Raspberries are one of the highest fiber fruits, and dark chocolate is high in both fiber (surprisingly) and polyphenols, which feed “good” gut bacteria. Plus it’s a delicious dessert!
9. Leave the skins on foods like apples and potatoes
The skins contain both fiber and other nutrients.
10. Aim for at least 5 servings of veggies per day
One serving is generally equal to a half-cup of raw vegetables, or a cup of leafy greens.
11. Eat your fruits and veggies instead of juicing them
Juicing strips produce of their fiber. Don’t lose this valuable part of foods!
12. Try out higher-fiber flours for baking like chickpea, buckwheat, hazelnut, coconut, and almond flours
13. Add a handful of greens to smoothies or scrambled eggs
This adds no extra time to your morning routine, especially if your greens are pre-washed.
14. Snack on air-popped popcorn
Popcorn is a very high-fiber food. My favorite way to eat it is with salt and nutritional yeast.
15. Choose seed or flax crackers
Seeds and flax help to bump up the fiber content of crackers, and can provide other important nutrients such as healthy fats.
A good place to start is to just pick one or two of these tips to try next week.
For some people, slowly increasing fiber and water is all they need to regulate their bowel movements. For others, it’s not (and in some cases, more fiber can even make things worse).
If you are eating a high-fiber diet and getting enough water but still feel constipated and painfully bloated, it’s time to consider other factors driving your symptoms. To get an idea of what some of these other causes are, grab a copy of my free guide, 15 Reasons for Continued Digestive Issues.
Be well, friends!