We’ve all heard how important fiber is for a healthy diet. However, Americans currently consume only 10% of the fiber that we did 100 years ago.* This dramatic drop in fiber is mainly due to the way wheat was processed at the turn of the century compared to today. Here are some facts about fiber and ideas on how to add more fiber to your diet.

Two Types of Fiber

  • Soluble Fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.  It dissolved in water and can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels.
  • Insoluble Fiber is found in whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables.  This type of fiber is helpful with movement of the bowels.

Recommended daily fiber for adults is:

A good diet should contain 25g to 30g of fiber a day. The average American eats less than half of that.

  • Men (50 or younger): 38g
  • Men (51+): 30g
  • Women (50 or younger): 25g
  • Women (51+): 21 g

Benefits of a High-Fiber Diet

  • Weight Loss or Weight Maintenance:  High-fiber foods tend to make you feel full so you are less likely to overeat, and it may take longer before you feel hungry again.  High-fiber foods also tend to have less calories than other food groups, but are a satisfying part of a meal.
  • Helps control blood sugar levels: Soluble fiber, in particular, can help control blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar.  A diet that ibnclkudes insoluble fiber may also reduce the risk of developing typ 2 diabetes.
  • May lower cholesterol levels: Soluble fiber may help lower low-density lipoprotein. A diet that includes beans, oats and flaxseed may help lower total blood cholesterol.  High fiber diets may also help to reduce blood pressure and inflammation.
  • Helps maintain bowel health: Dietary fiber keeps stool soft and keeps the contents of the intestines moving – thereby decreasing your chance of constipation, and may also lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids.

Good Sources of High-Fiber Foods

  • Whole grains (mulit-grain cereals, whole-wheat breads, whole-grain pastas, and brown rice)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes (dried peas, beans and lentils)
  • Fruits (apples, berries, figs, oranges, pears, prunes)
  • Vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts carrots, cauliflower, peas)
  • Popcorn

NOTE:  It is important to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, especially when you increase fiber in your diet.

A Few Additional Tips

  • Add fiber slowly to your diet, don’t start a high-fiber diet overnight.
  • Eat a wide variety of high-fiber foods. Different fibers do different jobs in the body.
  • Check food labels carefully to see how much fiber is in each serving.
  • If you are being treated for a health disorder, check with your doctor before adding fiber to your diet.