Guidelines advise different amounts of fiber depending on your age and sex. As you age, your fiber needs may go down.
According to the
- Women under 50: 25 to 28 grams per day
- Men under 50: 31 to 34 grams per day
- Women 51 and older: 22 grams per day
- Men 51 and older: 28 grams per day
Children ages 1 to 18
Fiber does digestive grunt work but doesn’t get the same glamour as vitamin D, calcium, and other nutrients.
It’s important to get the right amount of fiber to keep your digestive system running smoothly. Fiber also provides a lot of health benefits beyond digestion, such as help with weight loss and with balancing gut bacteria.
The average American eats only about
As a whole, fiber delivers a lot of health benefits:
- supports weight loss
- reduces cholesterol and blood sugar levels
- lowers risk of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, heart disease, and more
- lowers risk of diabetes
- increases digestive and bowel health
- fuels healthy gut bacteria
- may lower risk of colorectal and breast cancer
In general, “dietary fiber” is an umbrella term for the parts of plants and other foods that your body can’t digest. Your body does not break down fiber. Instead, fiber passes through your system and eases symptoms such as constipation.
It’s important to eat a wide variety of foods instead of relying on one source for fiber intake.
The best way to get fiber without consuming too many calories is to eat high fiber foods. Most vegetables, fruits, and other plant-based foods contain fiber.
If your body is slowly adjusting to more fiber, spread out your portions across multiple meals instead of eating a lot in a single serving.
|Fiber-rich foods||Grams (g) per serving size|
|split peas, cooked||16.4 g per cup|
|lentils, cooked||15.6 per cup|
|black beans, cooked||15.4 per cup|
|lima beans, cooked||9.2 g per cup|
|green peas, cooked||8.8 g per cup|
|raspberries||8 g per cup|
|cooked barley||6 g per cup|
|oat bran||6 g per cup|
|medium pear with skin||5.6 g per pear|
|medium apple with skin||4.8 g per apple|
|bran flakes||5.5 g per 3/4 cup|
|cooked Brussels sprouts||6.4 g per cup|
|almonds||3.6 g per 1 oz.|
|chia seeds||8.4 g per 1 oz. (2 tbsp.)|
Looking for how to get your kids to eat more fiber? Check out these 10 high fiber foods your kids will actually eat.
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that comes in three main forms: soluble, insoluble, and fermented fiber.
- Soluble fiber dissolves in water and slows down digestion. It can help lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and plays a different role in digestion. It adds bulk to stool and passes through your system more quickly. Basically, it helps keep your pipes working regularly and prevents constipation.
- Fermentable fiber can come from either of the previous two categories, although it is more often soluble fiber. Fermented fiber helps increase the healthy bacteria in your colon.
It’s best to gradually add fiber to the diet. You don’t want to shock your system with too much bulk. “Start low, go slow,” as the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders puts it.
Here are some tips for adding fiber — but not too much:
- Eat whole fruits such as pears and apples instead of drinking fruit juices.
- Opt for whole grain foods instead of white rice, white bread, and white pasta.
- Snack on vegetables instead of pretzels and chips.
- Eat beans and lentils daily.
- Sprinkle chia seeds on cereal, smoothies, or salads.
- Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water when you eat fibrous food.
You may also find it helpful to track the foods you eat and note the fiber content to better understand how much you’re actually eating. Some people who find it hard to eat enough fiber may want to consider taking a fiber supplement.
That said, too much fiber can also be a bad thing. And your body will speak up (literally and figuratively) with a variety of symptoms if you’re eating too much of it. Fiber supplements
Keep in mind that everyone’s body reacts to fiber a bit differently. Some people with a condition called irritable bowel syndrome may not tolerate fiber well.
Fiber is also known as “bulk” or “roughage,” and it can make some noise as it passes through your stomach and intestines. While there is no daily upper limit for dietary fiber intake, consuming large amounts may cause discomfort and symptoms such as:
- abdominal cramping
Cut back on your fiber intake if you experience these symptoms and feel that they are the result of your diet and not another condition, like the stomach flu, that has similar symptoms.
If you experience severe symptoms, consult your doctor or visit an urgent care center or the hospital. In rare but serious cases, consuming too much fiber can cause an intestinal (bowel) obstruction, which is a blockage that prevents contents from moving through.