Lifestyle Medicine: Fiber

By April D. Beresford, FNP-C, DipACLM

Poor diet is the leading cause of death and disability on a global scale, and this includes heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. One of the reasons a plant-based diet is so effective is FIBER.  It is the most under-consumed nutrient in the United States, and low consumption leads to many chronic diseases, like cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease, and digestion problems.  Fiber is only found in plant-based foods, and is not found in any animal meat, fats or milk.  To avoid falling into a fiber shortage, we recommend eating a variety of different fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, and whole grains with the least amount of processing (like brown rice, whole wheat noodles, quinoa, oats, buckwheat, rye, and barley). If you’re not ready to commit to a full lifestyle transformation, simply opting for more whole plant foods and fewer of the ultra-processed foods can make a real impact on your health. You can start simple: add just one ‘whole’ food to each meal or snack. A high-fiber diet is one of the main characteristics of a “healthy” diet.

By adding more whole plant foods to your plate, you will be adding in FIBER for your health.

Reading Recommendation
Fiber Fueled by Dr. Will Bulsiewicz (copies available at Grand Rapids Public Library)

Recipe Suggestion

Lentil Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash

I love seasonal produce, and squash is plentiful right now! This recipe is hearty, filling and delicious – perfect for autumn! This recipe will serve two people.

  • 1 large spaghetti squash, halved with seeds scooped out
  • 1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 medium-sized shallot (or another type of mild onion, or ¼ cup scallion greens)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • ¾ cup dry red lentils
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Rob the squash with 1 tsp all of oil in season with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Place the squash cut-side pointing down on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes, until inside is tender.  After cooling, use a fork to scrape out the spaghetti-like strands and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp all of oil in large rimmed skillet over medium heat and add the shallot and garlic.  Sauté these, stirring them frequently, for about 3 minutes until they are soft and fragrant. 
  4. Add the carrots and celery and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes, until the vegetables are softened.  Then add the tomato sauce, lentils, basal, oregano, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup water.  Raise the heat to briefly bring mixture to a low boil, then reduce the heat to low.  Place a cover over the pot and cook for approximately 20 minutes, so during occasionally, until the lentils are tender (easily mashed with a fork). * If mixture is cooking too quickly, add more water to prevent it from drying out*
  5. Remove pot from heat source.  Add the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Time to enjoy!  Divide the spaghetti squash strands between two bowls and top with the lentil Bolognese. Serve warm.