Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD
Last Updated on:
Fiber plays an important role in our health. Well-known benefits of dietary fiber (insoluble fiber, in particular) include the prevention of constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticulosis, as well as weight management. On the other hand, soluble fiber can help lower blood cholesterol levels. The daily recommended fiber intake for adult males (19-50 years) is at 38 grams and 25 grams for women. With proper planning to include high fiber foods on a regular basis, it’s not difficult to meet your recommended daily needs.
Understand the Fiber Claims
For a food item to be labeled as “high fiber,” it has to contain more than 5 grams of fiber per serving. “A good source of fiber” must contain 2.5-4.9 grams of fiber per serving, while a claim of “more” or “added fiber” means it contains at least 2.5 grams more fiber per serving than the reference food.
What Is a High Fiber Diet?
A high-fiber diet is a diet that includes foods that are high in fiber. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. It passes through the digestive system without being broken down into glucose, and it helps to keep the digestive system healthy.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the gut. This type of fiber can help to lower blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, does not dissolve in water and helps to add bulk to the stool.Both types of fiber are important for a healthy diet.
Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is also found in beans, nuts, and seeds. Insoluble fiber is found in whole wheat breads and cereals, as well as in fruits and vegetables.
A high-fiber food includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. The recommended amount of dietary fiber is 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. Some studies have shown that a diet may be beneficial for people with certain health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
How Much Fiber Do You Need to Reap the Health Benefits?
The amount of fiber that is beneficial may surprise you – you don’t need as much fiber as you think. Just boosting your fiber intake by a small amount may help to give health benefits.
The average adult only consumes about 15 grams of fiber per day, while the recommended amount is 25 to 38 grams. To increase your fiber intake, start by adding more fiber-rich foods to your diet. These include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and high-fiber cereals. Another way to add fiber to your diet is by taking a supplement. Look for one that provides at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
Tips to Increase Fiber in the Diet
If you’re not used to eating a lot of fiber, start slowly and increase your intake gradually. This will help avoid any potential gastrointestinal issues. And be sure to drink plenty of fluids when increasing your fiber intake, as fiber can absorb water and lead to dehydration if you don’t consume enough fluid along with it.
Here is a list of high fiber foods to add to your diet.
High Fiber Foods
Whole grain products are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Levels of fiber differ dramatically across brands and products, so make sure you always read the label and look for at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. Here are some good ideas to start off your search:
- whole grain breads, buns, bagels, muffins
- breakfast cereals with at least 5 g of fiber per serving such as All Bran, Fiber One, Smart Bran, and Go Lean
- Cooked cereal such as Red River and Oat Bran
- whole-wheat pastas
- whole grains such as barley, popcorn, corn and brown rice
Fruits are excellent sources of many vitamins and antioxidants, but not all fruits are high in fiber, as some of them are mostly water. Choose these ones if you would like a fiber boost:
- dried fruits such as apricots, dates, prunes and raisins
- berries such as blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries
- oranges, apple with skin, avocado, kiwi, mango and pear
Like fruits, vegetables are amazing sources of many nutrients but not necessarily high in fiber. The following are known for their high fiber contents:
- dark leafy greens such as spinach and swiss chard
- broccoli and cauliflower (cruciferous vegetables)
- green peas
- dried peas and beans such as kidney beans, lima beans, black-eyed beans, chick peas and lentils
Nuts and Seeds:
Nuts and seeds come up just about everywhere in nutrition halls of fame, and why would fiber be an exception? Adding nuts and seeds, such as almonds, whole flaxseeds, and soy nuts to your diet is a delicious way to up your fiber intake.
Does High Fiber Foods Cause Gas?
There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that high fiber foods cause gas. However, some people may be more sensitive to certain types of fiber than others, which could lead to discomfort. When increasing fiber intake, do so gradually. Slowly ease in by adding one food at a time. Increasing fluid intake may help avoid discomfort as well. If you are experiencing excessive gas or bloating after eating high fiber foods, it’s important to speak with a doctor or nutritionist to rule out any other underlying causes.
Do High Fiber Foods Cause Constipation
High fiber foods are often touted as being beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight. However, some people find that these same foods can cause constipation. While constipation is not generally considered to be harmful, it can be uncomfortable. If you are struggling with constipation while on a high-fiber diet, you may wish to consult with a registered dietitian to work out a plan that works for you and your condition.
Can High Fiber Foods Cause Diarrhea
While high fiber foods can help with regularity, eating too much can cause diarrhea. This is because high fiber foods are sometimes high in soluble fiber, which can bind to water and create soft, watery stools. If you are experiencing diarrhea after eating high fiber foods, try reducing the amount you eat or consult with your dietitian.
Do You Need to Take a Fiber Supplement?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the amount of fiber you need depends on a variety of factors, including your age, gender, and activity level. However, most people need between 25 and 38 grams of fiber per day, and most adults in the United States only consume about 15 grams per day. This means that many people could benefit from taking a fiber supplement.
There are a few different types of fiber supplements available, including psyllium husk, methylcellulose, and inulin. Psyllium husk is the most popular type of fiber supplement, as it is highly effective and relatively inexpensive. Methylcellulose is another effective option, but it is more expensive than psyllium husk. Inulin is another option; however some users report gas and bloating as side effects…
If you are considering taking a fiber supplement, be sure to talk to your doctor or dietitian first to see if it is right for you.
The Bottom Line
Although it is important to add more fiber to your diet, make sure you don’t go overboard all at once! Add fiber slowly and gradually to avoid unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms.
Gloria Tsang is the author of 5 books and the founder of HealthCastle.com, the largest online nutrition network run by registered dietitians. Her work has appeared in major national publications, and she is a regularly featured nutrition expert for media outlets across the country. The Huffington Post named her one of its Top 20 Nutrition Experts on Twitter. Gloria’s articles have appeared on various media such as Reuters, NBC & ABC affiliates, The Chicago Sun-Times, Reader’s Digest Canada, iVillage and USA Today.