Healthy adults should eat somewhere within a range of 20-35 grams of fiber daily. If you suspect you aren’t getting enough whole grains and fiber in your diet, here are some tips for upping your intake and reaping the advantages of a fiber-rich diet.
Why add fiber?
Still not sure what the big deal is about adding fiber to your diet? The truth is, whole grains and fiber provide many health benefits for your body. Fiber is best known for preventing or relieving constipation, but it does much more.
Fiber helps keep you healthy by:
- Maintaining bowel health
- Lowering cholesterol and protecting the heart
- Controlling blood sugar and potentially helping prevent diabetes
- Reducing the risk of colorectal cancer
- Helping you feel full for a longer period of time after you eat
What to eat
Many people think of bran as the classic fiber food source. Fiber is also found in many delicious foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. The amount of fiber delivered varies from food to food, so eating a wide variety of high-fiber foods will help you achieve the best health benefit.
Refined or processed foods, such as canned fruits and vegetables or white bread, are generally low in fiber content; don’t rely on them for a fiber-rich diet. Instead, reach for fresh or frozen produce, and choose whole-grain breads that are fiber-enriched. Attempt to get your fiber from natural foods instead of dietary supplements, as supplements typically do not provide the vitamins and minerals that natural-source high-fiber foods do.
Lastly, check nutrition labels to see how much soluble and insoluble fiber is in your food. Insoluble fiber helps move food through your system, while soluble fiber lowers cholesterol and glucose levels.
Ways to sneak fiber into your diet
Incorporating fiber into your daily meal plan is easier than you think. Here a few simple suggestions that will help you reach your daily fiber requirement.
- Start the day with a high-fiber cereal that offers at least 5 mg of fiber.
- Eat whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juices.
- Try to consume more raw fruits and vegetables, with the skin attached.
- Order brown rice instead of white, and eat whole-grain breads instead of white flour products.
- Substitute beans for meats in some meals.
- Choose smart, fiber-rich snacks like popcorn, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
Start by looking for fiber-rich foods that you like and incorporating more of these into your diet. Then try mixing in new foods that will bulk up your daily menu.
It’s good advice to add servings of fiber to your diet gradually to avoid gastrointestinal issues like gas pain and bloating. Over time, as you eat more fiber, your digestive system should adjust and feel better.
Increasing your fiber intake may be easier than you thought! The next time you go shopping, take along a list of high-fiber foods, and try to incorporate as many as you can into your daily diet.
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