Fiber, a crucial component of a healthy diet, is a carbohydrate that the body is unable to digest. It is found in many of the plants that we eat, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. Getting adequate fiber in your diet can help to:
- Reduce your risk of developing colon cancer and diverticulitis.
- Keep your digestive system clean and healthy.
- Ease bowel movements.
- Flush cholesterol and harmful carcinogens out of the body.
Unfortunately, most people don’t get enough in their diet. The average American only consumes about 10-15 grams each day. As you can see from the table below, this is far below the recommendations!
|50 years old and younger||38 grams/day||25 grams/day|
|51 years old and older||30 grams/day||21 grams/day|
Now you may be wondering what you can do to increase your fiber intake. A few simple steps to take include:
- Eating 2 servings of fruits each day.
- Eating 3-4 servings of vegetables each day.
- Including beans in diet a few days each week.
- Adding nuts and seeds as snacks or to salads, yogurts, or desserts.
- Choosing grains that contain fiber – oatmeal, whole grains, quinoa, etc.
Following those tips, be sure to make a list of items you need for your weekly menu – it helps to stick to your list. Find more helpful hints on planning a weekly menu in MOVE Module 7, Menu planning, shopping, and cooking.
In order to avoid GI distress, you will want to gradually increase your fiber intake until you reach your goal. It is also very important to increase your water intake, too. This can help you bulk up your stool, but the water is necessary to flush it all out!
Be sure to listen to our full episode to get a couple of my favorite high-fiber recipes!
Tori Stewart, MS, RD, LDN, CPT is a registered dietitian, certified personal trainer, and group fitness instructor at the Marion VA.