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.
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
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
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
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
Enjoy Fruity Snack Attacks: When you feel the urge for a
snack, be sure you have fresh or dried fruit on hand for a quick bite. A half
cup of fresh raspberries is packed with 4 grams of fiber, a papaya with 5.5
grams, and five rings of dried apples has almost 3 grams of fiber.
Peels Are a Plus: Get all the fiber from the fruits and
vegetables you enjoy by leaving the peels on. If you're worried about dirt and
pesticides, rinse your produce in warm water before eating. Remember, whole
foods have more fiber than juices, which lack the fiber-filled skin and