Fiber is the Fabric of our Lives

By Mallory Grassmuck, MS, RD, LD


Forget what you’ve heard about cotton. The only real fabric of our lives is fiber itself.

Like cotton, fiber is grown in fields. But unlike cotton, fiber is vital to the overall health of the human body.

The word itself – fiber – literally means string. Foods high in fiber – whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans – contain nutrients which are not digested by the body. Instead, it works as nature’s scrub brush to clean out the body. This, in itself, is significant because it helps keep the bowels regular.

However, ingesting fiber is a delicate balancing act. Too much fiber causes bloating resulting in the production of excess gas. Too little fiber can result in constipation.

Every human body is different. Therefore, the exact amount of fiber that works best for a person is up to the individual. But it’s easy to achieve the recommended 25-35 grams of fiber by adjusting daily dietary intake.

The most commonly fiber food source is grains, such as whole wheat bread, oatmeal, or brown rice. But – while whole grains are healthy for us – other fiber sources are commonly overlooked.
Fruits, vegetables and beans are some of the best high fiber sources available. Fruits and vegetables with edible peels such as apples, peaches, and plums are particularly high in fiber. The peels have insoluble fiber, which means it does not dissolve.

The inner fruit has soluble fiber and does dissolve during digestion. In order to increase fiber intake from fruits and vegetables, a person doesn’t have to go overboard. They just have to know where and how to find it.

It is difficult to judge the grams of fiber in fresh fruits and vegetables. Any fiber is better than nothing.

To add more fiber to your diet, start by adding fruit and/or vegetables to every meal. Eat the peels on cucumbers or potatoes…add berries to the morning cereal…beans can be sprinkled on top of a luncheon salad…add beans to soup.

While fiber supplements can be beneficial, increasing fiber through food intake should be the first approach.

If you have trouble reaching the fiber goal of 25-35g/day, then you may want to consider fiber supplements. But fair warning: If fiber supplements are immediately incorporated into the diet they can cause gas and bloating. When using these products, start with small doses throughout the day, rather than one large dose.

Cotton may enhance a body’s outer comfort, but inner comfort can only come through properly incorporating high-fiber foods in the diet. Fiber really is the fabric of a healthy life.