fiber to eat for better health

How much fiber to eat for better health


In trying to improve our diets, many of us are focused on lowering carbohydrate or salt intake, or increasing proteins. This is fine, but we may be forgetting one component of our diet—fiber.

Most people fiber deficient

Fiber is amazingly healthy, but less than 10% of adults are meeting suggested guidelines for fiber intake! Current recommendations call for a daily consumption of 25 grams of fiber for women, and 38 grams for men. The average adult is eating about 16 grams per day.

Why fiber is so good

There are various types of fiber—soluble in water or insoluble—but all forms of natural fiber are healthy. Fiber is different than other foods. It is contained in plants but difficult to digest, so much of it passes through the intestines without being broken down. You might think of fiber as scrubbing our intestinal tract, but it does much more.

Fiber adds bulk to food and slows the absorption of sugar, which helps prevent rapid rises in blood glucose and insulin levels. This cuts the risk of diabetes and obesity. Newer research shows that fiber is also important to “feed” the helpful bacteria in our large intestine, known as the microbiome.

A recently discovered function of the microbiome is that it helps keep intact the mucous membrane of our large intestine. Without that, our intestinal wall is open to damage and may absorb harmful substances. The microbiome bacteria need fiber to eat and survive. If they don’t get enough fiber, the bacteria may start eating the mucous membrane protecting our gut, which is not a good thing.

Diseases reduced by fiber

Multiple studies have shown that high fiber intake reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and colon cancer. The most recent large study, published in The Lancet, showed that the more fiber the better. For every additional 8 grams of fiber consumed, the study showed that the risk of each of these diseases fell by up to 27%!

Obesity and constipation

Fiber has another important function. It adds bulk to food and keeps your appetite satisfied. A high fiber meal or snack (for example, a whole-grain bread sandwich vs. white bread sandwich) will keep you full longer. You will eat fewer calories overall; less likely to overeat and gain weight. As a bonus, you are less likely to suffer constipation.

Foods with high fiber

Beans and lentils


Nuts and seeds


—bread in which you see the entire grain


—Especially pears, berries, apples, avocado, but any fruit is good. Eat the skin as well, full of nutrients and fiber


—Especially sweet potato, broccoli, squash, and eat the skin

Oats and granola (sweetened by fruit)

Look at the label

The best source of fiber is natural beans, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, but when you buy packaged foods, look at the label for fiber content. Choose foods that have at least 4 to 6 grams per serving.  To allow your intestines to get used to a high fiber diet, transitioning to a that over a couple weeks of time may be best. Drinking lots of water helps the transition as well.

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See also in ProcuraMed:

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Foods that increase or decrease your cholesterol level

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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This post is related to specialty Nutrition. Below is a list of some physicians related to this specialty.