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8 min read

What is the Fiber Gap and Why Is It Important?

Posted Jan 14, 2022 Updated Jun 28, 2024

Over the years, there’s been a lot of hype around fiber, what kinds there are, and why you should consume more of it. Although most Americans aren’t meeting their daily recommended intake, don’t fret. There are plenty of ways to boost and introduce fiber into your diet, including your favorite soda, OLIPOP! We’re here to break down, in a digestible way, what the fiber gap is, why you should care about it, and what types of fiber exist that can help both you and your gut!


What Is the Fiber Gap?


According to the most recently published 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines,1 90% of women and 97% of men don’t meet the recommended daily intake of fiber, which states that adults should get 25-38 grams of fiber daily.2 Experts estimate that only 5% of total Americans meet the recommended amount of fiber. This population-wide deficiency is what nutritionists and experts have come to refer to as the “fiber gap.”


Don't panic if you’re a part of the 95%. You can address your fiber gap by adding whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into your diet. Additionally, our co-founders created OLIPOP to help bridge the fiber gap and allow for something delicious to also be nutritious with high fiber in every can.


Why Worry About the Fiber Gap?


Now that you know about the fiber gap, why should you care? Fiber plays a crucial role in your overall health. It supports your intestinal regularity and provides nourishment for bacteria that live in your large intestine.3 It may also help slow the absorption of sugar. This means it can help improve blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels among other heart-health benefits. Essentially, fiber can help you live a healthier life!4


Why Is Fiber Good for Your Gut?


Our gastrointestinal tract contains trillions of microorganisms, of which there are some “good” bacteria and some “bad” bacteria. These various types of bacteria are collectively called the microbiome, or gut microbiota, and the different species and types of bacteria are known as microbiome diversity. The good bacteria need food to survive, which is where fiber steps in. Your gut is like a brewery where fiber ferments to serve up a variety of health benefits. More fiber means more healthy bugs to help your body work at its best! As your gut enjoys fiber, it creates byproducts that may support better immune system function and lower inflammation.


Where Did the Fiber Go? Hunters and Gatherers vs Modern-Day Diets 


Public health often looks to hunter-gatherer diet models due to their remarkable metabolic and cardiovascular health. Research suggests our early Paleolithic ancestors had fiber-dense diets where they ate ~100 grams daily. This is five times more than the average modern American adult consumes. Imagine what their microbiome must have looked like! 


As these societies had to search for their food, they consumed over 250,000 edible plants. This allowed them to enjoy a wide variety of micronutrients and variable kinds of fiber. As for today, modern technology has decreased the array of foods we eat. So focusing on the fiber-filled foods that help our bodies thrive can be a great place to start when seeking out healthier habits.


What Is Fiber?


Unlike other food types we consume that are composed of fats, protein, or carbohydrates and then broken down and absorbed, fiber is plant material that the human body can’t digest or absorb. Instead, it passes through your digestive tract relatively intact. Dietary fiber is categorized in a few different ways - solubility, viscosity, and fermentability. The primary categories of fiber are soluble vs. insoluble.


Soluble Fiber


Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance that helps improve digestion and may reduce cholesterol and control blood sugar. Viscous fiber refers to the gel-like substance that some soluble fibers form, which aids in digestion and weight loss. This invisible fiber is the kind of fiber we use in every can of OLIPOP as it supports your digestive health. It's also found in a lot of great food groups like beans, fruit, vegetables, and more.


Moreover, soluble fiber may also work as a prebiotic, a crucial player in balancing the gut's microbiome. Prebiotics are metabolized by the colonic microbiome, promoting the growth of certain good bacteria species while encouraging the release of metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids.5


Insoluble Fiber


On the other hand, insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and, instead, may promote regularity as it acts as a softener for your stool. This type of fiber encourages the movement of material through your digestive system and it increases stool bulk. This is often what fiber is famous for! Good sources of insoluble fiber include whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes. 


How OLIPOP Can Help Close the Fiber Gap


Although OLIPOP can’t (and doesn’t intend to) replace the fiber you can get from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, it does complement any meal made up of these tasty foods! Plus, each can of OLIPOP contains our OLISMART blend of unique botanicals, plant fibers, and prebiotics, each hand-picked for their distinct biome-supporting benefits. OLIPOP provides a welcome boost of fiber that may help with your health goals.


By adding soluble fiber to our drinks, we’ve added a sneaky way to support your digestive system. Although you can’t see it, our plant fibers are working with you through every sip! We’re looking to add fiber to your diet in a convenient, delicious, and discrete way to help make the fiber gap a little smaller.


Sources

  1. “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.” Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025, USDA, https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/DGA_2020-2025_ExecutiveSummary_English.pdf.
  2. Larson, Holly. “Easy Ways to Boost Fiber in Your Daily Diet.” EatRight, https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/easy-ways-to-boost-fiber-in-your-daily-diet
  3. “Prebiotics and The Microbiota.” Dietary Fiber, 2 Oct. 2019, http://dietaryfiber.org/prebiotics-and-the-microbiota/.
  4. “How to Add More Fiber to Your Diet.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 6 Jan. 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
  5. “Probiotics, Prebiotics and the Gut Microbiota,” ILSI, n.d., https://ilsi.org/publication/probiotics-prebiotics-and-the-gut-microbiota/.
    Cheat Sheet
    • 90% of women and 97% of men don’t meet the recommended daily intake of fiber.
    • This has led to what nutritionists and experts have come to refer to as the “fiber gap". 
    • OLIPOP helps close the fiber gap thanks to our high fiber OLISmart blend. 
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