Americans consume too many calories. We all know that. But a new study out of the University of Illinois shows that our diets may also be dreadfully low in several key nutrients. In other words, we got quantity down, but quality? Not so much. Congratulations.
The study was actually set up to investigate the relationship between disabilities and nutrition intake, but when you look at the overall numbers for U.S adults, it’s pretty disgusting. Only 11.3% of people get the recommended amount of fiber. Vitamins A and C and calcium were right around 50%. Only 9.7% got enough vitamin D.
The one that baffles me most is the fiber. It’s hard to pin down how many calories we eat on average. The possible number ranges from 1500 to 3000, depending on who you believe, but based on some semi-scientific observational research I did recently which mostly involved pulling my head out of my butt and looking at the people around me, I put my money on 3K.
How the hell do you eat 3000 calories without consuming 25g of fiber? I eat 25g of fiber before 9am most mornings! I probably inhale 25g of fiber without even using my mouth! An apple has 4g of fiber. A cup of beans has, like, 18g of fiber! We need fiber to poop properly, so if only 11.8% of us are getting enough, I question why U.S. homes even have toilets. I guess we need someplace to play Words with Friends.
I haven’t seen the methodology of the Illinois study except that they talked to 11,811 adults, 4,200 of whom were disabled. But even if this research is flawed, these numbers are so low–and backed up by so many other studies–that there’s almost certainly some truth to them. The American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons backs up the fiber number, claiming the average American eats about 12g to 15g a day.
We Yankees are going to eat junk. At this point, it’s practically in the Constitution. But, my fellow Americans, I have a modest proposal. Amongst the burgers, energy drinks, donuts, and crappuccinos, make room for one, moderately-sized, mixed salad every day. Any combo of salad’s usual suspects–leafy greens, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes–is going to be a fiber bomb.
Here’s a great recipe for Greek salad. It’s at 7g of fiber, but only 100 calories, so if you double it, which I certainly would, you’re already past halfway to your necessary fiber intake–and a much more rewarding potty experience.