So, maybe you’ve recently heard or discovered that you need to eat more fiber because it’s so good for you. For some reason, many people hear the word fiber and the least delicious foods seem to come to mind. On the contrary, dietary fiber is found mainly in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. Not only will fiber help prevent or relieve constipation, but it can also help maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even some types of cancer. The easiest way to reach your fiber goal is to choose the foods you find tasty.
How Much Fiber Do We Need?
According to the Institute of Medicine, the daily recommendation for men 50 years of age or younger should have 38 grams of fiber daily. Women in the same age bracket need 25 grams. While men aged 51 or older require 30 grams of daily fiber and women 21 grams.
The Best Fiber Choices
Entire grain foods, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and other legumes are the ultimate options to help you get enough fiber. Something you should know is that processed and refined foods like canned vegetables and fruits, white breads and pastas, non-whole-grain cereals, and pulp-free juices are all lower in fiber. During the refining process of grains, the bran or outer coat of the grain is removed, which lowers the fiber content.
Supplements & Fortified Foods
Getting your daily dose of fiber is best through whole foods rather than supplements. Supplements will work, but not as good as the real, raw deal. Supplements such as FiberCon, Metamucil, and Citrucel don’t provide a variety of fibers, minerals, vitamins, and the various beneficial nutrients that food does. You can simply add more fiber-rich foods such as granola bars, cereal, yogurt, and even ice cream with added fiber. Added fiber is usually labeled as ‘Insulin” or :chicory root’.
Tips To Reaching Your Fiber Goal
- Choose a high-fiber breakfast cereal or cereal bar with five or more grams of fiber per serving. Full grain, bran, or fiber should be somewhere in the name or ingredients. You can also get unprocessed wheat bran to add to your favorite cereals, and it will work the same.
- Switch to entire grains foods and consume at least half of all grains as complete grains. Full wheat, whole-wheat flour, and other whole-grain ingredients should be included in the breads you choose. Read those labels.
- When baking, substitute whole-grain flour for about half of the white flour. You can try adding crushed bran cereal, unprocessed wheat bran, and uncooked oatmeal to your cookies, cakes, and muffins to help increase your fiber intake.
- Consume more fresh fruits and vegetables. Five or more servings daily is the best choice.
- Eat more beans, peas, lentils and other members of the legume family. If you’re a fan of bean burritos and nachos, you shouldn’t have any problem at all.
- All the snacks you eat should count. Raw fresh fruits and veggies, low-fat popcorn, whole-grain crackers, nuts, and dried fruits are all excellent snack options.
High-fiber foods are excellent for your health. But, remember, too much of anything can result in negative impacts. Too much fiber can result in increased intestinal gas, abdominal bloating, and cramping. Increase your fiber but be mindful of how much you have. If you’re not used to having as much fiber as necessary, gradually work your way up over the course of a few weeks. This way the natural bacteria in your digestive system can adjust more easily to the change. You’ll also want to be sure you drink plenty of water since fiber works best when it absorbs water.