Blog post written by Samantha Bradshaw, IUPUI Dietetic Intern
Photo from www.healthydirections.com/articles/digestive-health/gut-health-benefits-of-fiber
Fiber: What is it and why is it important?
Fiber is a carbohydrate that humans cannot digest. Fiber passes through the body and works to manage how the body uses sugar. This process keeps hunger and blood sugar at a normal level. There are two types of fiber that can be consumed: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
How is fiber beneficial to overall health?
A diet high in fiber can reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, inflammation of the intestines (also known as diverticular disease), and constipation. People who eat high fiber diets also have a lower risk for metabolic syndrome (multiple conditions that develop together and increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke). Fiber, specifically soluble fiber, is good for maintaining the bacteria in your gut as well as controlling blood sugar, helping with weight management, immunity, and brain function.
Which foods are high in fiber?
Fiber can be found in almost any type of whole food that comes from plants. Generally, whole grains, legumes, beans, fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber. Some examples of high fiber foods include oats, barley, lentils, pears, brown rice, whole wheat bread, apples, and chickpeas.
Fiber can also be added into foods in the form of chicory root or inulin. Look for these words in the ingredients list on food packages to know if fiber has been added.
Photo from www.theplanettoday.com/foods-that-contain-fiber/
How much fiber should I eat each day?
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the recommended amount of dietary fiber intake is 14 grams for every 1,000 calories consumed. For example, if you eat 2,000 calories a day, you should aim for 28 grams of fiber daily.
The Institute of Medicine recommends different levels of fiber by age and gender:
Image from employees.henrico.us/county-connection/fill-up-with-fiber/
To put this in perspective, a 40-year-old woman could meet her daily fiber requirements by eating:
Tips to increase fiber intake:
There are many ways you can boost the amount of fiber in your diet. It is important to increase your fiber intake slowly and gradually to prevent side effects like gas, bloating, and cramping. It is also important to drink plenty of water so fiber can work properly in your body.
While most people can meet their dietary fiber needs through food, others may benefit from a fiber supplement. Be sure to talk to your doctor and/or dietitian before starting any supplements!
Original photo by Samantha Bradshaw
High-Fiber Oatmeal Recipe
This simple breakfast recipe provides a filling 7 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein to keep you fueled all morning!
Recipe makes one serving. Nutrition information: 435 calories, 64 g carbohydrates, 15 g total fat, 15 g protein, 7 g fiber. Allergen information: contains peanuts and gluten (unless gluten-free oats are used).
Sarah Wilson, RDN, Nutrition Manager at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, along with guest blog posts by dietetic interns