We understand that dietary fiber is essential for our body to function in a healthy way. It is also great as part of a weight loss strategy. Daily intake of fiber helps with digestive system, reduce chances of heart disease, reduce cholesterol levels, and prevents diabetes. (1) Also, if you are on a keto diet, high fiber foods can help with your keto constipation.
Mainly fiber slows down digestion process and this means you will not feel hungry for a longer time. As a result, you will eat fewer calories during the day which will lead to weight loss.
So, it is agreed that we need to include high fiber foods in our diet daily. But we need to know how much fiber per day is necessary for a healthy body. When we talk of the recommended fiber intake, it is mostly based on the daily fiber needs based on age and gender.
Also, the recommendations do not separate between fiber foods based on soluble or insoluble fiber. Dietary fiber comes from only plant-based foods. Therefore, you will not be getting any from protein or fats.
It is of two types. Insoluble fiber adds bulk during our digestion and helps with constipation and smooth stools.
But the more beneficial type is soluble fiber which forms a gel like substance with water. Humans can not digest any of these. But soluble fiber is digested by bacteria in our intestines. Most of the health benefits of fiber we noted above come from soluble fiber.
How much fiber per day is recommended?
The recommended fiber intake is determined by your age and gender. It is also affected by whether you are pregnant or lactating.
Broadly speaking the daily recommend intake value of fiber for adults is 25 and 38 grams for adult females and males respectively.
The following are the recommended daily intake values of fiber. This is based on data from US Dietary Guidelines, National Academies and NAP.edu. The same recommended daily intake value of fiber has also been endorsed by American Heart Association.
|Age||Recommended Daily Intake Value (Male) in grams||Recommended Daily Intake Value (Female) in grams|
|19 -50 years||38||25|
|50 and above||30||21|
How much fiber per day over 50?
You will note that fiber requirement for males is more than females. Similarly, we need less fiber once we are 50 and above. The recommended daily fiber intake over 50 is 30 grams for males and 21 grams if you are female. Children need less fiber than adults.
What foods are highest in fiber?
Since dietary fiber is found only found in plant-based foods, therefore, high fiber foods are also from plant sources. And you guessed it right that fruits and vegetables are great sources of fiber.
Here are some high fiber low-carb foods that you may consider. I am sure you will like many of these. All you need to do is to start and nourish your love with vegetables. You will also be contributing to sustainable living and more humane treatment of animals by adding more vegetable-based foods in your diet.
Sources of insoluble fiber
Some foods that have higher content of insoluble fiber include:
- Wheat without its bran removed
- Whole grain foods like brown rice, whole grain pasta and whole grain cereals
- Nuts and seeds
Sources of soluble fiber
As we noted, this is the best type of fiber because it is the type that lowers bad cholesterol, helps with digestion, and reduces blood glucose level because carbohydrates with soluble fiber are digested slowly and therefore do not cause blood sugar spike. This helps with prevention and treatment of diabetes. And of course if you are eating more fiber per day, you are giving yourself an increased chance of losing weight. Some excellent fiber rich foods that have high soluble fiber are:
- Nuts and seeds
Should you be eating more fiber?
Probably yes because average Americans are taking only half of the recommended daily fiber intake. On average American adults take between 10 and 15 grams of fiber a day. This is primarily because of highly processed foods. Therefore, you should be making a shift to the fiber rich foods after you know exactly how much fiber per day is required. Plus you also know the foods that can increase your intake.
How to increase daily fiber intake
Here are few tips that should help you jack up your fiber in diet and answer your question: how can I eat 35 grams fiber a day?
- Replace processed foods with whole foods in their natural form. For example, you can start eating fruit replacing juice.
- Have a fiber rich cereal in breakfast.
- If you are eating yogurt, try to add a different flavor to it by adding fruit, nuts and seeds
- While making soups, it will be a good addition if you add beans, peas and vegetables
- Try to snack on fresh vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, broccoli and beans
How much fiber is too much?
Thought it is highly recommended that you increase your fiber intake, but if your body is not used to it, you may experience certain side effects like bloating, suppressed appetite, and constipation. The key is to gradually increase daily fiber intake and reach the desired level in about two weeks time.
What happens when you eat too much fiber?
Too much fiber also will not derive proportional benefits. In fact, a lot of fiber in diet exceeding the daily recommended value will not provide any significant benefit. Rather, you may experience nutrient deficiencies because excess fiber has been known to cause issues with calcium, zinc and magnesium absorption in the body.
Here are three tips that will help you manage your fiber intake better.
Spread fiber intake. By taking fiber in smaller portions throughout the day you will avoid possible gastrointestinal issues.
Gradual increase. Increase your fiber intake gradually. Let your body get used to more fiber.
Drink enough water. Since fiber foods need a lot of water for absorption, you should drink enough water to avoid issues like constipation and bloating.