Dietary fiber has many health benefits. It’s great for regularity, heart health, and weight management. Adding dietary fiber to your daily diet can allow you to experience these benefits for yourself. But it’s not a good idea to increase your fiber intake dramatically! As you aim to reach your healthy daily fiber goal, here are a few tips to help you make the most out of the fiber in your diet.
Know Your Fiber
Read the nutrition labels for all of the packaged foods and supplements you buy. Cereal should contain at least 5 grams of Fiber per serving. Some foods that claim to be made with “whole grains” may in fact contain very little fiber. Look for unprocessed foods with 100% natural ingredients that you can pronounce. These are more likely to contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Set a Goal
It’s recommended that women eat 21-25 grams of dietary fiber every day, while men should eat 30-38 grams. Every week, increase the amount of fiber in your diet by 5 daily grams for adults and 1-2 grams for children. Most Americans eat about 15 grams of fiber daily, so it can take some time to comfortably increase your fiber to the daily recommended 25-30 grams. To see what 25 grams of fiber looks like when measured in different popular foods, visit our blog.
Read The Ingredients
Avoid foods made with ingredients such as hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup and chemical additives—these are dead giveaways for processed foods, which are low in natural dietary fiber and high in sodium, sugars and saturated fats.
Make sure that as you increase your fiber intake, you’re drinking enough water to keep your body hydrated. The general rule of thumb is to drink eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day. Drinking an adequate amount of water is essential in allowing fiber to do its job inside your body. Without water, the fiber can’t work to push food through your digestive system, and you may end up constipated.
When adding fiber to your diet, it’s a good idea to get your fiber from a variety of sources, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Visit www.mypyramid.gov to learn more about the different food groups that should be part of your daily diet.
Knowledge is power! For answers to common fiber-related health questions, check out the blog posts in our Ask A Nutritionist blog series.