Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is known for its abilities to be able to prevent and relieve constipation. It can be found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains. Typically, women should eat between 21 and 25 grams of fiber per day, whereas men should eat between 30 and 38 grams of fiber per day.
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How Much Fiber I Should Eat In a Day
On average, Americans are only consuming 11 to 13 grams of fiber per day, which is significantly lower than the recommended averages for both men and women. The amount of fiber you should consume daily varies between men and women and age, as you can see from the chart below.
Daily Recommendations of Fiber Consumption For Adults
|How many grams an individual 50 or younger should consume daily||Grams an individual 51 or older should consume daily|
|Women||25 grams||21 grams|
|Men||38 grams||30 grams|
Daily Recommendations of Fiber Consumption For Children
|Age of Children||Grams of fiber|
|1-3 years||19 grams|
|4-8 years||25 grams|
|9-13 years||26 grams (women), 31 grams (men)|
|14-18 years||26 grams (women), 38 grams (men)|
How to Determine How Much Fiber You’re Consuming
There are a few different tell-tale signs that may indicate you need more fiber in your diet. Some of these signs include:
- You are constipated or bloated: Fiber allows your stool to have some bulk, which provides your colon with substance to process and pass. If you go from not eating much fiber to eating a ton of fiber, though, make sure to drink lots of water to help loosen up all of the fiber and prevent constipation.
- You are gaining weight: If you lack fiber in your diet, chances are you may overeat due to never feeling full. This feeling of emptiness can cause an increase in one’s weight. Fiber can also balance your blood sugar levels, which helps to maintain your weight as well.
- You have poor gut health: If you have additional issues with your gut health, it could be linked to a lack of fiber. Fiber helps with feeding the large intestine “good bacteria” and acts as a prebiotic.
- Your meals are not filling you up: As mentioned above, fiber helps us remain and feel full. Thus, if we lack this substance, we may never feel satiated.
- You have high blood pressure: Fiber can monitor your blood pressure levels by decreasing triglycerides and increasing HDL cholesterol within our bodies.
Aside from these physical signs that may lead you to realize you are suffering from a lack of fiber, there is also a mathematical way to directly show how much fiber you are receiving each day. To calculate how much fiber you are receiving, you must know the serving size of the food you are consuming and the grams of fiber present in each one. Some common serving sizes with grams of fiber can be found below:
- ½ cup of beans or lentils = 6 grams of fiber
- ½ cup cereal= 6-14 grams of fiber
- 1 slice of whole-grain bread = 3 grams of fiber
- ½ cup of chopped fruit = 2 grams of fiber
Importance of Fiber
Various benefits come with eating the recommended amount of fiber each day. Some of these benefits include but are not limited to:
- Helps fill you with fewer calories
- Assists the body in absorbing less fat and cholesterol from the foods you consume
- Normalizes bowel movements
- Helps control blood sugar levels
- Helps relieve constipation and bloating
In addition to these simple daily benefits, fiber also may significantly lower your chance of obtaining heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Various researchers at Harvard have conducted studies and noted that increased fiber intake reduces breast cancer risk, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. This shows how extensive the role of fiber is in maintaining your health and how big of a role it can play.
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Sample Meal Plan With Sufficient Amounts of Fiber
Hitting your target goal of fiber intake can be challenging, especially if fiber is a new element that you are adding to your diet. Some common foods that are high in fiber include:
- Brown rice
- Bran flakes
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole wheat bread
Below is a sample day with a few different meal plan ideas that would enable you to eat a sufficient amount of fiber.
For breakfast, try eating high-fiber breakfast cereal (5 grams or more of fiber per serving). Some high-fiber breakfast cereals include Kellogg’s All-Bran, Fiber One, and Raisin Bran.
For lunch, there are a variety of options available to you. Try eating a carrot, pea, and lentil soup, or a fried egg and avocado on top of wholemeal toast.
Common snacks that enable you to get fiber include oatcakes with hummus, tomato salad, and Fibre One brownies.
For dinner, try making a salmon stir-fry with carrots, broccoli, and peas. You could also do a beef chili with kidney beans and brown rice.
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Some common desserts with fiber include oat bran muffin, Fibre One salted caramel square, dried figs, and low-fat popcorn.
Fiber Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Understanding the ins and outs of fiber and whether or not you are consuming the proper proportion of fiber can be complicated. Take a look at some of these commonly asked questions and answers to have a deeper understanding of your current fiber health.
What is fiber?
Dietary fiber is a carbohydrate found in plant foods such as vegetables, grains, and fruits. The body cannot digest this fiber, so it typically will travel through the stomach until it reaches the large intestine, where it will help you process foods.
What is the difference between insoluble and soluble fiber?
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and makes a gel-like material. This sort of fiber can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is typically found in oats, peas, beans, apples, and carrots. On the other hand, though, insoluble fiber is in charge of moving material through your digestive system and increasing stool bulk. Foods high in insoluble fibers include whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, and potatoes.
Can I eat too much fiber?
There is a line between eating enough fiber and eating too much fiber. Too much fiber in your diet can also cause gas, bloating, and constipation. These side effects will typically occur when an individual eats 70 grams of fiber or more a day. To combat these effects that can be contributed to eating too much fiber, consider increasing your fluid intake, exercising, and reducing your high-fiber diet.
Fiber plays a vital role in maintaining our overall health. Thus, it is essential to take note of our bodies and assess whether or not we may need to increase our fiber consumption. On average, adult men should be receiving 30 to 38 grams of fiber daily, and women should be receiving 21 to 25 grams of fiber daily. If you need help constructing a meal plan that enables you to hit these goals, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor.
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Madeline is a Senior at UCLA majoring in Human Biology & Society with a minor in Spanish. She's currently a Healthcare Research Analyst at Mira, writing content for the blog to help the public better understand certain medical issues, technologies, testings, and the importance of healthcare.