When you're on a gluten free diet, it's still important to get enough fiber in your diet. Fiber can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and some cancers, in addition to playing a vital role for digestive health.
Adults and children who do not get enough fiber are prone to chronic constipation. A high fiber diet promotes regular bowel movements, reducing constipation.
Fiber also slows the rate that sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream, keeping blood glucose levels from rising too fast. When glucose levels spike, they trigger hunger again and can lead to overeating. High fiber foods counteract this, helping you feel full for longer.
Fiber is also crucial for good heath because it helps clean out bacteria and other buildup in your intestines, reducing your risk for colon cancer and improving your overall intestinal health.
Many gluten free foods are high in starches like corn starch and white rice flour, which are very low in fiber. Oats are high in fiber but many doctors recommend that people with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity avoid oats (especially in the first year of going gluten free) because oat protein is so similar to gluten that it can cause the same damage as gluten.
That said, there are plenty of gluten free foods that are high in fiber. Adding these foods to your diet can greatly improve your overall health.
How much fiber do you need? The average adult or teen needs 20-35 grams per day.
To find out how much fiber a child needs, add 5 to the child's age in years. The total is the amount of fiber in grams that the child should eat each day. For example, a 5 year-old should eat 10 grams of fiber per day (5 + 5 = 10 g).
Here are some good sources of fiber for those on gluten-free diets.
- Apple (4 g)
- Pear (6 g)
- Orange (4 g)
- Banana (3 g)
- Strawberries (3 g per cup)
- Blueberries (4 g per cup)
- Raspberries (8 g per cup)
- Raisins (5 g per cup)
- Prunes (pitted) (12 g per cup)
- Artichoke (10 g)
- Spinach (4 g)
- Sweet potato (5 g)
- Broccoli (5 g per cup)
- Carrots (5 g per cup)
- Corn (3 g per cup)
- Baked potato (with skin, 3 g for medium, 6 g for large)
- Amaranth (18 g per cup)
- Cornmeal (9 g per cup)
- Quinoa (5 g per cup)
- Buckwheat (5 g per cup)
- Brown rice (3 g per cup)
- Wild rice (3 g per cup)
- Sorghum flour (white, whole grain) (12 g per cup)
Nuts, seeds and legumes:
- Lentils (15 g per cup)
- Garbanzo or pinto beans (14 g per cup)
- Black or kidney beans (16 g per cup)
- Refried beans (13 g per cup)
- Peas (8 g per cup)
- Sunflower seed kernels (dry roasted) (14 g per cup)
- Almonds (4 g per 1/4 cup)
- Flax seeds (2 g per tablespoon)
As you can see, you can easily make sure that you and your family members get enough fiber with just a little bit of planning for fiber-rich foods to include in meals.
You can also use some of these foods to dress up meals and snacks and add to their fiber punches. For instance, toss garbanzo beans and sunflower seeds in your salad and beans in soups. Blend a smoothie of assorted fruits for a morning treat. Snack on high fiber foods like nuts and seeds, and so on.