We have all heard that we should aim to get more fiber in our diets, but do you know why or how?
In its simplest form, fiber is a carbohydrate that the human body cannot digest, so it passes through the digestive system undigested, helping to keep your blood sugar in check, regulate your body, and even help to clean out your digestive tract.
We want to go over some ways that you can get more fiber, how much fiber is recommended daily, and some foods to incorporate into your diet to help you increase your fiber intake.
How Much Fiber Do We Need?
For optimal health, it is recommended that adults and children aim for 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day, while many people only get about 15 grams per day.
It is also recommended that you split up your fiber intake throughout your day.
For instance, you may not want to intake 30 grams of fiber in one sitting because it may cause some stomach discomfort and bloating.
Rather, if you eat 3-4 meals per day, you could ensure each meal you consume contains roughly 7-10 grams of fiber, so you will hit your daily target by the end of the day.
Soluble Vs. Insoluble Fiber
There are two primary types of fiber, which you will sometimes notice on food labels and both are beneficial to your health.
The difference is in how they are digested and how they impact your health.
The Two Types are as Follows:
Soluble Fiber –
Soluble fiber will dissolve in liquid and can help lower your glucose levels and cholesterol.
Some examples of food with soluble fiber are: oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, apples, and blueberries.
Insoluble Fiber –
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in liquid and can help foods move more quickly through your digestive system and prevent constipation.
Some examples of foods with insoluble fiber are: whole what bread, couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
Fiber for Your Health
Studies have shown that fiber can help prevent certain types of cancers, such as those that impact colorectal, small intestine, oral, larynx, and breast health.
This happens because fiber helps to prevent the small intestine from digesting foods, which pushes food into the large intestine, which then releases short chain fatty acids.
Short chain amino acids are known to contain anti-carcinogenic properties, which can help prevent cancer.
Consuming more fiber during adolescence and into early adulthood is vital because it can help reduce your cancer risk and prevent it from developing later into your adult life.
Fiber can also help prevent Diverticulitis, which is inflammation within the intestine. In fact, studies have shown that eating more insoluble fiber was linked to about a 40 percent lower risk of
developing the disease.
If you are someone who suffers from constipation or bloating, eating more fiber can also help improve your gut health and keep your digestive system moving properly.
Insoluble fiber expands when exposed to liquids, so when it passes through your digestive system, it will bulk up and cause foods to stick to it.
By doing this, foods will pass through your digestive system more quickly and you may experience less bloating.
How to Get More Fiber
Now that you know some of the health benefits of fiber, you might be wondering how to add more fiber into your daily diet.
Here are some tips:
1. Eat more high fiber foods–
While vitamins and supplements can be a great way to get extra nutrients into your day, the best way to get these nutrients, including fiber, is to eat them in your diet.
There are lots of foods you can start incorporating into your day to increase your fiber and if you are wondering how, adding extra servings of fruits and vegetables into your day is a great way to get started.
Some of these foods include: almonds, artichokes, avocados, greens, dates, lentils, potatoes, quinoa, fruits, oatmeal, and more.
2. Swap out white rice, bread, and pasta with whole wheat alternatives –
You do not have to get rid of carbohydrates in your diet or even get rid of all white bread and rice altogether, but if you are aiming to get more fiber, try swapping out some of your servings with a whole wheat or whole grain alternative.
3. Swap out chips, crackers, and chocolate for raw, frozen, or roasted veggies –
It might not sound like quite the same thing when you are craving chips or crackers as a snack to eat vegetables instead, but raw vegetables are packed with fiber and will keep you satiated.
If you are not too keen on eating plain veggies, try roasting them or baking them until they are crispy like chips and seasoning them with whatever seasonings suit your palette.
You can still enjoy your normal snacks and treats but swapping out even one of them with a higher fiber alternative can help you reach your fiber goals.
4. Swap out meat for legumes or beans –
This can be especially helpful for recipes like chili or pasta, where you might normally add red meat to the sauce or to the chili crockpot.
Try adding a serving of legumes or beans into the mix and flavor the recipes as you normally would.
Since legumes and beans have a similar, meaty texture, you will not even miss that meat and will get some added fiber to your day.
5. Consider a supplement or powder when needed –
If all else fails and you are not a fan of fruits, vegetables, or other high fiber foods, or you find yourself struggling to hit those last few grams, you can supplement your fiber intake.
Nature Made has a great gummy vitamin for adults that contains 6 grams of soluble fiber per 3 gummies and they taste yummy.
If gummies are not your thing and you are still wondering how to get more fiber, you can also try a powder like the kind from Benefiber, which contains 3 grams of fiber per serving and it is tasteless, so you can add it to water or a food of your choosing.
Sample High Fiber Day of Eating
If you are not sure how to put it all together, here is a sample of a day of eating that includes about 30 grams of fiber:
One serving of whole-grain cereal or oatmeal (5 g fiber), half a banana (2 grams of fiber) and milk of your choice.
One serving of almonds (4 grams of fiber) and a serving of raisins (2 grams of fiber).
If you are not a fan of raisins, you can swap this out for grapes or another type of fruit.
Two slices of whole-wheat bread (5 grams of fiber), half an avocado (5 grams of fiber), and an orange (3 grams of fiber).
One serving of yogurt topped with half a cup of blueberries or raspberries (5 grams of fiber).
Grilled chicken served with roasted vegetables (5 grams of fiber) and half a serving of lentils (8 grams of fiber).
The protein can be any type of protein you prefer, whether it is fish, chicken, tofu, etc.
3 cups of air-popped popcorn (5 grams of fiber).
Popcorn is a great source of fiber and air-popped popcorn does not contain any added oils or salt, so it is a healthful snack.
Eat More Fiber, Feel Better
As you can see from the sample meal plan, incorporating fiber into your diet does not have to be a daunting task.
You can swap out items here and there based on persona preference regarding which foods you prefer, and you can supplement with a powder or supplement as necessary.
Some meals may be higher in fiber than others and that is okay, and you may have days where you consume higher fiber and days where your fiber is lower.
What matters most is that you are actively trying to eat a balanced diet, filled with nutrient-dense foods and enough amounts of fiber.
Have you been enjoying a higher fiber diet? Let us know how you feel, and which foods are your favorites!