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Fiber: Give Yourself a Fresh Start for Health

Just a few changes of habit can give a big boost to your diet's fiber profile.
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

We hear it on all fronts: We need more fiber in our daily diet. The questions for most of us: How much do I need, and exactly how do I get it?

If you think the answers involve unreachable goals and endless raw veggies, fear not. Boosting your dietary fiber is as easy as acquiring a few simple habits and as delicious as eating the meals you already love.

How Much Fiber Do You Need?

The American Dietetic Association describes fiber as complex carbohydrates your body can't digest or absorb and names two types: soluble and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber -- found in beans, fruits, and more -- aids in satiety (helping you feel full). Insoluble fiber -- found in wheat bran, whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and other foods -- helps keep your digestive system regular.

According to the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, the daily needs of men and women for fiber differ, and change as they age:

  • Age 50 and younger
    • Women: 25 grams
    • Men: 38 grams
  • Age 51 and older
    • Women: 21 grams
    • Men: 30 grams

As for how to get those grams into your diet, the experts have easy-to-implement ideas. To raise your daily fiber intake, try one of these fiber-increasing habits each week, until they're automatic. However, to avoid diarrhea and other complications, increase your fiber by a few grams each week over the course of several weeks.

6 Tips for a Fresh Start With Fiber

Get the Breakfast Boost: Wake up to a nutritious high-fiber breakfast -- one with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving. You'll meet nearly 15% to 25% of your daily fiber needs. Plus, it's a great way to manage your weight.

Become a Topper: While enjoying cereal, a whole-wheat bagel, or oatmeal, don't forget the fiber-filled toppers: bananas (3.1 grams each), blackberries (about 3.8 grams per 1/2 cup), or hummus (2 tablespoons has 1.6 grams) are all delicious additions.

Learn to Love Labels: A food label can say it's "a good source" of fiber if it contributes 10% of your daily value of fiber -- about 2.5 grams. The package can claims it's "rich in," "high in" or an "excellent source of" fiber, if the product provides 5 grams of fiber per serving. So read up.

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