How Much Fiber Do We Really Need?

According to statistics, the average adult consumes roughly 15 grams of fiber each day, yet in order to prevent digestive and intestinal tract related health concerns and avoid constipation, the Institute of Medicine advises the average adult to consume between 25-38g of fiber every day.

It is important to keep in mind that each and every one of us has unique dietary needs. In some cases, those with acute digestive problems such as loose stools, diarrhea, stomach pain, and chronic gas and bloating are sometimes advised to reduce the amount of fiber in their diet temporarily—until the root of the problem is properly addressed by a qualified health practitioner.

There are several types of fiber that function differently and provide us with distinct health benefits, but we can categorize them into two main categories – soluble and insoluble fiber. Both types of fiber are found in varying degrees in fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains.

Soluble Fiber helps slows digestion and allows the body to absorb nutrients from food. This type of fiber can help lower blood cholesterol and control blood sugar levels.

–> Foods High in Soluble Fiber Include: Oatmeal, blueberries, cucumbers, beets, quinoa, strawberries, celery, squash, nuts, apples, carrots, flax seeds, chia seeds oranges, apricots, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, hemp seeds, pears, asparagus, sunflower seeds, almonds, lentils

Insoluble Fiber is considered “gut-healthy fiber” because they add bulk to the stool and can help prevent constipation. Insoluble fiber also helps us feel fuller longer and can help cut cravings.

–> Foods High in Insoluble Fiber Include: Whole grains, barley, dark leafy vegetables, kale, spinach, nuts and seeds, oats, flax seeds, broccoli, zucchini, turnip, cabbage, celery, carrots, Brussels sprouts

In order to maintain optimal health and bowel regularity, these are the amounts of fiber we should aim for each day.

Children 1-3: 19g
Children 4-8: 25g
Girls 9-13: 26g
Boys 9-13: 31g
Girls 14-19: 26 g
Boys 14-19: 38g

Women 50 and younger: 26g
Men 50 and younger: 38g
Women 51 and older : 21g
Men 51 and older: 30g

Why Fiber Needs Vary
Both adults and children should aim for 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed. In general, men need more fiber than women because their calorie requirements are often higher. An adult woman’s calorie needs may only be 1,800 – 2,000 calories per day, which puts her fiber requirements between 26-28 grams a day. As a person ages, their calorie intake is often lower. Therefore, fiber requirements might decrease as a person gets older, depending on how active they are and their state of health.

Here is an example of what 26 grams of fiber would look like in one day.

1/2  cup rolled oats = 4.5g
1 apple = 3.8g
1/2 cup of blueberries = 2g
3 brazil nuts = 1.2g
1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds = 2g
1 cup of broccoli = 4g
1 medium, raw carrot = 1.7g
2 Tbsp. hemp seeds = 2g
1/2 cup of long grain brown rice = 2g
1/2 cup of green beans = 2g
1 cup of romaine lettuce = 1.5g

To put this in perspective, a high fiber meal plan might look something like the example below. Keep in mind, this is only an example of how to add more fiber to each meal, and does not take into account any other nutritional needs, or foods you might add to the meals.


Rolled oats with blueberries, almond milk and flax seeds
1 apple with 3 brazil nuts
Broccoli salad with shredded carrot and hemp seeds
Brown rice with green beans and a leafy green salad
Total: 26 grams of fiber

– Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels
– Promotes weight loss
– Supports good gut bacteria
– Prevents constipation
– Reduces the risk of colon cancer, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis and heart disease



Homemade Salt Replacement Seasoning


This recipe uses sprouted and ground chia and flax seeds, which can be purchased at almost any health food store.

* Recipe uses equal amounts of each ingredient. To maximize freshness, it is best to make small quantities at a time.

Sesame seeds, ground
Flax seeds, ground
Chia seeds, ground
Hemp seeds, whole
Kelp flakes

  1. Begin by adding the sesame seeds to a coffee grinder and processing until they become a fine powder. A mortar and pestle can also be used.
  2.  Empty into a glass container and grind the flax seeds if you purchased them whole.
    The chia and flax seeds can be purchased already ground but you maintain freshness when you grind them yourself. The hemp seeds can remain whole. Kelp flakes are normally purchased already ground.
  3. Combine all ingredients together and store in a glass container. This mixture is best stored in the refrigerator to maximize and preserve freshness.

Add this high mineral seasoning to any meal where you would normally use salt
Use in soups, stews, salads, pasta, or sprinkle on sandwiches!

Sesame Seeds:
Incredibly rich in calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium. Many of these minerals play a vital role in bone mineralization, red blood cell production, enzyme synthesis, hormone production, as well as regulation of cardiac and skeletal muscle activities.

Hemp Seeds: Contains a balanced ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, vitamin A, E, and many B vitamins. It is also rich in sodium, calcium, dietary fiber and iron.

Chia Seeds: A rich source of minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Chia seeds contain all nine amino acids in proper ratios, making them a complete protein.

Flax Seeds: High in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Kelp Flakes: Contains 46 minerals, 16 amino acids and 11 different vitamins. It is also an excellent source of iodine which helps support thyroid health. Kelp is a natural source of sodium, which gives this seasoning a slightly salty flavour but with the added benefits of additional minerals.


Good fats/bad fats. Why we need the right ones in our diet!

Good fats/bad fats

The hate-on for dietary fat seems to come in waves. Lately, I’ve noticed a plethora of low-fat recipe websites popping up, shunning fat once again. As someone who has a background in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, cellular biology and preventive & holistic nutrition, I’ll share with you my knowledge on why we need fats in our diet and why in fact, we can’t live with out them!

It’s easy to get confused about good fats vs. bad fats, how much fat we should eat, how to avoid pro-inflammatory harmful fats and what role omega-3 fatty acids play when it comes to our health.

While over-consumption of bad fats has been linked to inflammation associated with heart disease, cancer and obesity; a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to depression, ADD, chronic fatigue, dermatitis, memory problems, arthritis, macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s.

Functions of Fat in the Body
• Fats are needed for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
• Fats are crucial to the health of the bones and teeth because calcium needs fat to be absorbed!
• Fats help form the myelin sheath: the protective fatty covering around the nerves.
• Fats are needed for hormone, protein, prostaglandin and neurotransmitter synthesis.
• Fats are an essential component of cell membranes and the internal fatty tissues that protect our organs.
• The human brain consists of 60% fat. Studies have shown that a lack of healthy fats in the diet can lead to early cognitive decline. It has also been documented that pregnant women who have a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids have healthier, smarter babies!
• Dietary fat is essential to keeping us feeling satiated and full and provides a slow burning energy. When fat is completely cut from the diet, there is a tendency to binge on refined carbs, which can lead to weight gain.

The Right Kind of Fat
As a holistic nutritionist and advocator of a whole foods diet, I believe the healthiest fats are those that come from whole foods sources like nuts, seeds, avocados, beans and legumes. Healthy fats from whole foods such as these contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants like vitamin E that protect the natural oils from oxidation and free radical damage.

Oils are not a whole food and should only be used in moderation. Oils are 100% fat, highly processed, refined and heated to high temperatures which destroys the vitamins and antioxidants – the very substances which give them nutritional value when they exist in their whole food form. Additionally, heating and cooking with oils produces many toxic substances above and beyond trans-fatty acids. Due to their chemical structure and unstable bonds, no monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oil is truly safely for frying.

Heating and frying oils exposes them to three damaging influences:
1. Light
2. Oxygen
3. Heat

As oils are heated and oxidized, toxic products and free radicals are formed, which damage tissues and cells, create inflammation and can lead to accelerated aging, impaired immune function and increased cancer risk.

Harmful Fats and Oils – The Worst Offenders
Diets providing too much Omega-6 fatty acids and not enough Omega-3 stimulate inflammation in the body. The main sources of inflammatory fat in the Standard American Diet comes from animal fats, hydrogenated oils, trans fat, margarine, vegetable shortening, canola oil and other processed vegetable oils.

✓ The Good Fats
Including the following foods in your diet will supply you with a good amount of healthy, anti-inflammatory fats. Many of these foods are also great sources of calcium, magnesium, fiber, protein and plant sterols.

*Note: Nuts and seeds should always be eaten raw and stored in air-tight containers in the refrigerator to prevent the oils from going rancid. Avoid roasted, salted and glazed nuts. The more you enjoy these foods closest to their natural state, the more you will come to appreciate their fresh, wholesome flavour!

Hemp seeds • chia seeds • flax seeds • pumpkin seeds • sesame seeds • sunflower seeds • almonds • walnuts • brazil nuts • macadamia nuts • cashews • hazelnuts • pecans • chickpeas • navy beans • red beans • avocado • bananas • olives • coconut • oats • peas • lentils • brown rice • quinoa

If one chooses to continue using oil, here’s what to look for to make the healthiest possible choice:
• Always buy cold-pressed, extra-virgin oils in dark, glass bottles.

• Store oils in a cool place out of direct sunlight.
• Buy oils in small quantities and use quickly to avoid additional oxidation.
• Never heat flax, hemp seed oil or any other polyunsaturated oil.
• Avoid canola or generic vegetable oils.
• The vegetable oil industry is big business and one of the heaviest users of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Always buy organic to lessen your exposure to these harmful toxins!

Cooking Tips
• If cooking with oil, add a bit of water to reduce the temperature and avoid heating oil to a smoking point. *Do not add water to hot oil already heated in your pan. Begin by adding the oil and water together at the same time, then slowly bringing up the heat.
• Vegetable broth makes a good substitution for oil in many recipes.
• Coconut oil, being a saturated fat, is more stable under high temperatures and more suitable for cooking with as far as oxidation/inflammation is concerned.
• Broil, bake and steam foods instead of frying.

How Much Fat Should We Get in Our Diet?
The amount of fat each of us should consume is going to vary from person to person based on age, health concerns etc. A general guideline to follow is to consume no more than 20% overall calories from fat a day.

For example, based on a 2,000 calories a day, this would mean 44 grams of fat.
1. Multiply 2,000 by 0.20 (20 percent) to get 400 calories.

There are 9 calories in a gram of fat, so divide the number of calories by 9.

2. Divide 400 calories by 9 (calories a gram) to get 44 grams of fat

I didn’t nearly cover everything I could have said regarding fats in the diet but hopefully I’ve provided enough info to give you a good idea of the kind of fats that are most beneficial to our health.