Unfortunately, too many of us fall short of the recommended daily amount of fiber in our diets. Women should get between 21 to 25 grams of fiber per day and men should aim for 30 to 38 grams. Fiber is an essential nutrient and contributes to our health and wellness in several ways. First, it helps in providing satiety (fullness after meals), which can help promote a healthy weight. Second, adequate fiber intake can help to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol. Third, fiber helps prevent constipation. Also, adequate fiber intake from whole foods like beans, leafy greens, and colorful vegetables can help keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range.
It is important to understand there are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material and is easier on the digestive system. Soluble fiber can be found in citrus fruits, barley, vegetables, beans, and grains. Insoluble fiber does not digest easily in water but offers the benefit of allowing our stool to pass through the digestive system easier. Insoluble fiber can be found in nuts, beans, whole wheat, potatoes, and cauliflower.
It is important to drink a lot of water when you first change your diet to increase your fiber intake, because adding too much fiber too quickly can promote intestinal gas, abdominal bloating, and cramping. Increase fiber in your diet gradually over a few weeks. This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system and gut to adjust to the change.
Eat a colorful range of fruits and veggies and be well.
Disclosure: (I am a writer and editor for the National Institutes of Health. Information contained in this blog post are not associated with my role at NIH).