How to add more fiber to your diet
Fiber is one of the most important parts of a healthy diet, yet surprisingly, we can’t physically digest any of it. Instead, fiber is used to regulate the digestive process and help our bodies absorb nutrients from food.
Dietary fiber is derived from plants and is indigestible to humans. There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material in our intestines. Soluble fiber can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Some examples include fruit, nuts, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes.
Insoluble Fiber does not dissolve in water and increases the bulk of waste products. It also enhances movement of waste products through the digestive system. Some examples include whole-wheat flour, beans, vegetables, and potatoes.
To achieve a healthy digestive system, you must obtain a healthy balance of both soluble and insoluble fibers to gain the most benefits from your food.
If managed properly, fiber can help the digestive system produce the healthiest bowel movements possible. If managed improperly, fiber can cause constipation or diarrhea.
Fiber and fluid intake
Fiber can only be effective if your fluid intake is also up to par. If you eat the recommended amount of fiber in a day and don’t drink enough water, you can experience constipation. If you eat the recommended amount of fiber in a day and drink too much water, it can cause diarrhea.
Recommended amounts of fiber:
The recommended amounts of daily fiber intake are as follows:
- Children ages 1-8 – 19-25g
- Children ages 9-18 – 25-31g
- Women 19-50 years of age – 25g
- Men 19-50 years of age – 38g
- Women 50+ years of age – 21g
- Men 50+ years of age – 30g
If you find it difficult to take in the recommended amount of fiber through food, there are fiber supplements that can help you achieve your daily goal. Fiber supplements work similarly to fiber-rich foods because you have to drink an appropriate amount of fluid for them to be effective. However, you shouldn’t solely rely on a fiber supplement as a replacement because natural foods offer more beneficial nutrients.
Foods that contain 5+ grams of fiber:
- 5 dried prunes
- 1 cup blueberries
- ½ cup cooked barley
- ½ cup dried beans, peas or legumes
- 1 cup whole wheat pasta
- 1 medium pear
- 1 medium apple
- 1 ounce almonds
- 3 cups popcorn
Foods that contain 2 – 4 grams of fiber:
- ½ cooked potato with skin
- ½ cup cooked brown rice
- ½ cup broccoli
- ½ cup raw carrots
- 1 slice whole wheat bread
- 1 small bran muffin
- ½ cup oatmeal
If you plan to add more fiber to your diet, do so gradually. Remember to take in the proper amount of fluids to balance out the fiber intake. Fiber is extremely beneficial for a healthy digestive system and helps your body absorb key nutrients from food.
Let GI Associates help to get your digestive system in check. Contact us at 877-442-7762.