What is the Fiber Gap and Why Is It Important?
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– as 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 to flourish!
Explaining 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 intakes of fiber, which states that adults should be aiming to get 25-38 grams of fiber daily.2 Experts estimate that only 5% of total Americans meet the recommended amount of fiber and that this population-wide deficiency is what nutritionists and experts have come to refer to as the “fiber gap.”
If you’re a part of the 95%, don’t fret, addressing the fiber gap can be done by infusing 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 and include 9 grams of fiber per serving. That’s one third of your daily needs right there!
Why Worry About the Fiber Gap?
Now that you know about the fiber gap, why should you be concerned?
Fiber plays a crucial role in our overall health. It supports our intestinal regularity and provides nourishment for bacteria that lives in our large intestine.3 Additionally, it may slow the absorption of sugar and thus, improve blood sugar levels, and help manage cholesterol levels among other heart-health benefits. Essentially, fiber can help you live a healthier life!4
Why is Fiber good for our 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 to be fed to survive, which is where fiber steps in. Our 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.
Hunter and Gatherers
Hunter-gatherer diet models have been used in public health due to their remarkable metabolic and cardiovascular health for years. This is of note as research suggests our early Paleolithic ancestors had fiber-dense diets where they ate ~100 grams daily, which is five times more than the average 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 which allowed them to enjoy a wide variety of micronutrients and variable kinds of fiber. 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.
Different Types of 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 our 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 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. Moreover, soluble fiber also works 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
On the other hand, insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and, instead, may promote regularity as it acts as a softener for our stool. This type of fiber encourages the movement of material through your digestive system and, you may have heard of fiber being referred to this before; it increases stool bulk. Commonly known good sources include whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans (consists of both types), and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes.
OLIPOP & 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 compliment any meal made up of these tasty foods! Each can of OLIPOP is made with our OLISMART blend: 8 unique botanicals, plant fibers, and prebiotics (the main food source for good bacteria), each hand-picked for their distinct biome-supporting benefits. OLIPOP provides a welcome boost of fiber, 9 grams to be exact, 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.
- “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.
- 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
- “Prebiotics and The Microbiota.” Dietary Fiber, 2 Oct. 2019, http://dietaryfiber.org/prebiotics-and-the-microbiota/.
- “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
- “Probiotics, Prebiotics and the Gut Microbiota,” ILSI, n.d., https://ilsi.org/publication/probiotics-prebiotics-and-the-gut-microbiota/.
- A fiber gap exists between recommended amounts and what Americans typically eat in an average day.
- Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance that helps improve digestion.
- Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water; It acts as a bulk, which encourages the movement of material through your digestive system.
- OLIPOP supports digestive health in a convenient and discrete way by offering 9 grams of soluble fiber per can.
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