Dietary fiber is a hot topic in nutrition these days. Likely because there are numerous health benefits to consuming adequate dietary fiber yet the “typical” American diet is quite low in fiber.
Fiber plays an important role in many things within the body including:
- Maintaining bowel health
- Preventing disease (cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc)
- Decreasing blood cholesterol levels
- Maintaining a healthy immune system
- Increasing satiety (feeling full after a snack/meal)
Types of Dietary Fiber
There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble.
- Attracts water and turns to gel during digestion
- Slows down digestion
- May help reduce blood cholesterol and blood sugar
- Adds bulk to the stool
- Helps food pass more quickly through stomach and intestines
Foods High in Dietary Fiber
- Wheat Bran
- Fruits & Veggies
Daily Fiber Recommendations
- Men: 38+ grams
- Women: 25+ grams
- Average intake: 15 grams
Sample Daily Intakes: Low Fiber vs. High Fiber
Low Fiber (“Typical” American Diet):
- Breakfast: McDonald’s Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit (2g) with Low fat milk (0g)
- Lunch: PB&J on White Bread (1g), Banana (4g), Diet Soda (0g)
- Dinner: Grilled Chicken Breast (0g), Mashed Potatoes (1g), Broccoli (2g)
Daily Fiber Total: 10g
Ideal Fiber Intake:
- Breakfast: Greek Yogurt Parfait with Mixed Berries & Granola (16g)
- Lunch: PB&J on Wheat Bread (4g), Banana (4g)
- Snack: Pear with Skin (6g), 1 oz. Almonds (4g)
- Dinner: Grilled Chicken Breast (0g), Black Beans (7.5g), Broccoli (2g)
Daily Fiber Total: 43.5g 🙂
As you can see, making a few small changes to your normal dietary intake can dramatically increase your dietary fiber intake. Other suggestions include adding flaxseed or chia seeds to your morning fruit smoothie, choosing whole grains vs. processed grains, choose fruits & veggies highest in fiber, and experiment with new grains (barley, bulgur, quinoa).
Final Note: As you increase your dietary fiber intake, make sure you are drinking plenty of water!
Do you think you are getting enough fiber? Email me for a worksheet to Check Your Daily Fiber Intake and a tips sheet with 12 Easy Ways to Eat More Fiber!