Getting Enough Fiber
Why is fiber important?
Eating a diet high in fiber is thought to help prevent constipation and its related problems. It may lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and help control blood sugar levels. And it may help you reach and stay at a healthy weight.
What is the recommended daily amount of fiber?
In general, experts recommend that men ages 19 and older try to get 38 grams of fiber a day. Women ages 19 and older should try to get 25 grams a day. If you have questions about how much fiber you need, talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian.
How can you get more fiber?
Increase the amount of fiber in your diet slowly so that your stomach can adjust to the change. Adding too much fiber too quickly may cause stomach upset and gas.
If you need help changing your diet, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian.
- Choose whole-grain breads and cereals.
- Look for ones that have at least 4 grams of fiber in each serving.
- Buy bread that lists whole wheat (or other whole grains), stone-ground wheat, or cracked wheat as the first ingredients.
- Eat brown rice, bulgur, or millet.
Choose these instead of white rice.
- Eat several servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day.
Good choices include berries, apples, figs, oranges, pears, prunes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, corn, peas, and beans.
- Eat cooked dry beans and other legumes.
Beans (navy, pinto, black, kidney, lima, white, great northern), split peas, lentils, and chickpeas are good sources of fiber.
- Check labels to find the amount of fiber in packaged foods and fiber supplements.
For example, bran has a lot of fiber. But many bran products, such as muffins and waffles, contain very little bran. Check the labels for the actual fiber content.
- Drink plenty of water every day.
High-fiber diets need lots of water to work properly. If your diet has enough fiber in it, your stools should become softer, larger, and easier to pass.
Some doctors recommend adding bran to your diet to help boost your fiber intake. If you do this, start slowly with 1 teaspoon a day. Gradually increase the amount to several teaspoons a day.