Fiber- Why We Don’t Eat Enough

Fiber is simply the parts of the plants that don’t get digested. They pass into the large intestine basically intact. I know you wonder, “If they are not digested then how are they good for me?” They do several things and are extremely beneficial. Let’s start with some history. Humans have eaten mostly plant parts for most of their existence. Our early ancestors were hunter gatherers. From experience I can tell you gathering is much easier than hunting. I have never had a wild cabbage try to run away from me but the wild animals do. So they ate meat when the hunting was good and seeds, roots, berries, leaves, and bark when the hunting was bad. The plant parts were either eaten plain or if they were really hard to eat they were ground, boiled, or fermented to make them edible. Most bread was just some hard plant parts like seeds or bark smashed with rocks, added to water and oil, and baked. As time went on milling got better and the grains could be ground very fine for better bread but everything was still whole grain. Then came the industrial revolution and the invention of the roller mil, which could remove the tough parts of the seeds and leave the soft starch for nice tender white bread. The reasons for the rise in popularity of white flour were twofold. First the bread was lighter and people liked it better and second the flour lasted so much longer without spoiling with all the nutritious parts removed. This is why most flours are enriched with vitamins, so many were removed during milling people were having disease due to deficiency. A second trend in the reduction of dietary fiber was the ready availability of meat. This led to the meat and potato diet. Meat has  no fiber and potatoes have very little. So now the average American gets 15 grams of fiber when the recommended amount is 25g for women and 38g for men. Knowing that some get more than the recommended amount that means the rest are WAY under. Next I will go over the types of fiber, some of the health benefits of fiber, and finally give suggestions of how to get more fiber in your diet that will taste better than ground tree bark.