Fibre: Why You Should Increase Your Intake Right Away

Why You Should Increase Your Fibre Intake STAT

Fibre: Why You Should Increase Your Intake Right Away

You probably think about fibre at a very specific time: when things aren’t, you know, moving. You dash out to get a deep brown cereal and ponder the whole-grain pasta offerings. Maybe a chalky elixir from the drugstore enters the picture. When things resolve, those roughage-heavy choices get moved to the back of the cupboard.

It’s time to embrace fibre full time

“It’s almost a renaissance in fibre research right now,” says Jens Walter, associate professor at the University of Alberta, who’s working on a human trial using dietary fibre and other aspects of the gastrointestinal microbiota.

While we’ve long known that this dietary element helps digestion, there’s also strong evidence showing fibre helps prevent heart disease.

And now, emerging research connects it to more health conditions such as cancer, asthma, arthritis and even a longer lifespan.

“The more research we do on fibre, the more we realize it’s really got a holistic, full body impact that makes your diet better and improves your health in more ways than you could have imagined,” including reducing inflammation in the body and impacting numerous organs, says Christy Brissette, a registered dietitian and president of 80 Twenty Nutrition in Toronto.

This apple & walnut muesli is the right way to start your day.

But very few of us are getting enough

sleep and exercise, fibre is a magic health bullet. Unfortunately, Canadians don’t sleep or exercise enough, and we sure don’t eat sufficient fibre. While Health Canada suggests women eat 25 grams of fibre every day and men take in 38 grams, the average is close to 10 to 15 grams.

However, Walter says humans, before the advent of agriculture, used to eat as much as 150 grams a day, thanks to their foraging diets. (Not much meat or fish, but a lot of fruits, grasses, seeds and unprocessed grains.

) “We’ve evolved with a high intake of dietary fibre and we rely on it for a number of physiological, metabolic and immunological functions.

Over the last hundred years, we’ve lowered this amount, which has impacted our health,” he says.

Why fibre is so key for bodily functions

We need different types of fibre for our bodies to function optimally: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fibre is the roughage you may associate with whole grains, but it’s also hidden in nuts and some fruits and vegetables, particularly peels.

It helps with digestion, but also keeps you feeling full after eating. A 2015 study found those with insulin resistance who ate a diet rich in fibre lost nearly as much weight as those on a complex heart-friendly diet — and were more ly to stick to it.

 (Are you eating enough?)

Importantly, this type of fibre has proven links to colon cancer prevention. A 2009 study that followed 2,000 people with precancerous polyps over four years found a 35 per cent decreased risk for recurrence among those who ate the highest fibre diet.

Then there’s soluble fibre: it comes in grains such as oats, but also legumes, seeds and produce. It’s been proven to reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Both types of fibre together have a big impact on heart health. A 2014 Harvard study connected high fibre intake via cereal grains with higher survival rates in a large group of people who had suffered heart attacks.

But newer lines of research link fibre to a wide range of health conditions. Walter says the connection lies in our digestive tracts.

Fibre acts as a prebiotic in our guts, nurturing a microbiome — a stew of microorganisms that, through a complex series of processes, supports the immune system, cleans up cholesterol, balances the body’s insulin and reduces inflammation throughout the entire body.

In fact, scientists are finding a link between fibre intake and diabetes, allergies, asthma, arthritis and more, noting cultures that still eat ancient diets don’t develop these conditions.

The impact is so wide-ranging that a 2016 study of a group of older adults found that those who reported eating the most fibre — about 29 grams per day — were healthier overall than those who reported a lower fibre diet.

Walter says health recommendations have yet to influence our diets, so he hopes to see the food industry fortify more foods with fibre. “There’s no real scientific hurdle to do this,” he says.

Here are 10 ways to a better microbiome.


The Most Important Nutrient In Your Diet

Fibre: Why You Should Increase Your Intake Right Away

Fiber's fuddy-duddy image is getting a makeover, and a well-deserved one. For starters, new research shows fiber is critical for active women, helping you work out harder and longer.

A type of carbohydrate, fiber helps food pass through your system. Which is where its potency lies: “Fiber slows down the digestion and absorption of food, so you get steady energy that lasts,” says Sarah Romotsky, R.D.N., of the International Food Information Council Foundation.

One way it may ensure that stamina is by boosting the population of a type of gut bacteria that improves the way your body handles sugar, research published in the journal Cell Metabolism shows. (Not to mention, one benefit of a high-fiber diet might decrease your risk of breast cancer.


A better workout isn't the only benefit from the rough stuff. Check out the three other important benefits of fiber for staying healthy, slim, and strong.

Torch more fat and calories

Fiber revs your metabolism. (That's why it's one of the most important nutrients for weight loss.

) Women who substitute high-fiber grains for refined ones have a higher resting metabolic rate, which means they burn more calories throughout the day, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

This effect is probably due to the increased energy your body has when it gets enough fiber, along with a steady blood sugar level, says study author Susan B. Roberts, a senior scientist at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and the founder of the iDiet weight-loss program.

Fiber is especially beneficial for keeping your weight healthy because it produces short-chain fatty acids when it's broken down by your gut bacteria, says Wendy Dahl, Ph.D., an associate professor in food science and human nutrition at the University of Florida. These fatty acids help induce feelings of fullness and keep your appetite in check.

One kind of fiber called resistant starch may actually increase your body's ability to burn fat, including belly fat, says Michael Keenan, Ph.D., a food science professor at Louisiana State University.

It does this by triggering a mechanism that prompts your body to use fat instead of carbs for fuel.

Eaten daily, foods with this starch- beans, legumes, and whole grains, as well as cooked and cooled potatoes, pasta, and rice (the cooling process makes them develop resistant starch)-can have a big impact. (Try these Healthy, High-Fiber Lentil Recipes That Won't Weigh You Down.)

Keep your body balanced

If you're packing in a lot of postworkout protein to help build and maintain muscle, fiber can be an important counterbalance, Dahl says. Here's why: Consume too much protein, and some of it may not be digested and will instead be broken down by gut bacteria, which creates inflammation-causing compounds, she explains.

But when you eat enough fiber, the nutrient acts as a deterrent. The bacteria break it down instead, which prevents this harmful process. For the best results, make sure that at least some of your daily protein comes from plant sources, beans and peas, that contain plenty of fiber, Dahl says. (These vegetarian dinners are high in protein and fiber.)

Power up

Fiber boosts the population of good gut bugs in your digestive tract, which research has linked to a bolstered immune system and even a better mood, Dahl says. (Really-gut health and happiness go hand in hand.) Your bones benefit too.

Certain types of fiber, chicory root, make it easier for your body to absorb magnesium and calcium, which are both critical for a strong frame. A fiber-rich diet can even help ward off knee problems.

In a study at Boston University School of Medicine, people who ate the most fiber were less ly than people who consumed less fiber to experience worsening knee pain or develop painful osteoarthritis in their knees later, probably thanks to fiber's anti-inflammatory benefits, the researchers say.

But how much fiber do you actually need?

To reap the benefits of fiber, aim for at least 25 grams of fiber every day-most of us get only about 16 grams.

Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts, and you'll end up with the right mix of different types of fiber, Romotsky says. (Try these recipes using high-fiber foods.

) And as you up your fiber intake, drink more water to prevent stomach upset, she says. Your new goal: nine glasses of H2O a day.

Some packaged foods contain “functional fiber,” psyllium and inulin. While it's OK to eat this type to help fill the gaps, eating whole foods gives you the benefit of fiber plus other nutrients as well. (And, in case you were wondering, this is what you need to know about having too much fiber in your diet.)


16 Easy Ways to Eat More Fiber

Fibre: Why You Should Increase Your Intake Right Away
Written by Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD on July 27, 2016

Getting enough fiber is important for your health.

For one, it can reduce constipation and help with weight loss and maintenance.

It may also lower cholesterol levels, as well as your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

This may be because some types of fiber are prebiotic, meaning they promote healthy gut bacteria.

Yet most people aren't getting enough fiber.

The Institute of Medicine recommends 38 grams per day for men and 25 grams for women.

Americans average only around 16 grams of fiber per day, which is about half of the recommended amount (1).

Here are 16 ways you can add more fiber to your diet.

Fiber is a type of carb found in plant-based foods.

While most carbs break down into sugar, fiber stays intact as it passes through your digestive system. Eating fiber along with other carbs helps you feel fuller for longer.

It also slows the time it takes digestible carbs to be absorbed into your bloodstream. That helps regulate your blood sugar levels.

Whole-food carb sources all naturally contain fiber. These include fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes and whole grains.

Bottom Line: Choosing whole foods ensures you get carbs that have fiber. Select a variety of beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

For a number of reasons, you should eat lots of vegetables. For one thing, they lower your risk of several chronic diseases.

Nonstarchy vegetables are particularly low in calories and high in nutrients, including fiber.

Eating your vegetables before a meal is a good strategy for eating more of them.

In one study, women given salad before a meal ate 23% more vegetables than those served salad at the meal itself (2).

Eating salad or vegetable soup before a meal has also been linked to eating fewer calories during a meal (3).

Bottom Line: Eating vegetables before a meal can increase your fiber consumption. Nonstarchy vegetables are a low-calorie, high-fiber choice.

Popcorn is one of the best snack foods around.

That's because it's actually a whole grain, delivering four grams of fiber per ounce (28 grams). That's three cups of air-popped popcorn (4).

For the healthiest popcorn, air pop it either in a brown paper bag in the microwave or in an air popper.

Bottom Line: Air-popped popcorn delivers over a gram of fiber per cup. It's a delicious snack food that's also a healthy whole grain.

Individual pieces of fruit, such as an apple or pear, make great snacks because they're tasty and portable.

All fruit delivers fiber, although some have significantly more than others.

For instance, one small pear has five grams of fiber, whereas a cup of watermelon has one gram (5, 6).

Berries and apples are other high-fiber fruits.

The fiber from fruit can improve fullness, especially when paired with food that contains fat and/or protein, such as nut butter or cheese.

Bottom Line: Fruit is an excellent snack food. High-fiber fruits include pears, apples and berries.

Whole grains are minimally processed, leaving the whole grain intact.

In contrast, refined grains have been stripped of their vitamin-containing germ and fiber-rich hull.

This makes the grain last longer but also takes away the most nutritious parts, leaving only a fast-absorbing carb.

Replace the refined grains in your diet with whole-grain versions. In addition to oatmeal or brown rice, try:

  • Amaranth.
  • Barley.
  • Buckwheat.
  • Bulgur wheat.
  • Farro.
  • Freekeh.
  • Millet.
  • Quinoa.
  • Wheat berries.

Bottom Line: Whole grains have the germ and bran intact, making them more nutritious than refined grains.

It's best to get your nutrition, including fiber, from food. But if your fiber intake is low, you might consider taking a supplement.

A few types of supplements have research to back them up.

  • Guar fiber: As a supplement, guar fiber may improve fullness and lower your overall calorie intake. It's also used in processed foods to improve texture (7).
  • Psyllium: This is the key ingredient in Metamucil, a popular fiber supplement used to fight constipation. In one study, psyllium was also shown to decrease hunger between meals (8).
  • Glucomannan: This fiber is added to some low-fat dairy products to improve texture, and it's the main ingredient in no-calorie shirataki noodles. As a supplement, it increases fullness and reduces appetite (9).
  • β-glucans: This type of fiber is found in oats and barley. It is fermented in the gut and acts as a prebiotic to support the healthy microorganisms that live there (10).

However, supplements have two main drawbacks.

First, they can cause stomach discomfort and bloating. To reduce this, introduce a fiber supplement gradually and drink plenty of water.

Second, these supplements can interfere with the absorption of certain medications, so take your meds at least an hour before or 4 hours after the supplement.

Bottom Line: There are several promising fiber supplements on the market. However, you probably don't need a supplement if you eat a range of whole plant foods.

Chia seeds are nutritional powerhouses.

They provide omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals, as well as 11 grams of fiber per ounce (11).

These small seeds gel in water and are 95% insoluble fiber.

Insoluble fiber helps keep your digestive tract moving and is important for colon health. It is also linked to a lower risk of diabetes.

Other forms of seeds — flax, sesame and hemp, for example — have similar nutrition profiles and are also smart choices.

Bottom Line: Chia seeds deliver insoluble fiber, which promotes normal digestion and may lower your risk of diabetes.

Proponents of juicing say juice — especially cold-pressed vegetable juice — is a good way to incorporate a lot of vegetables into your diet.

Indeed, juice can have high amounts of micronutrients.

Yet even unpasteurized, cold-pressed juices have been stripped of fiber, leaving only a concentration of carbs, specifically in the form of sugar.

While vegetable juices have less sugar than fruit juices, they have far less fiber than you get from eating whole vegetables.

Bottom Line: Eating fruits and vegetables in whole form, rather than juice, ensures that you get more fiber and less sugar.

Avocados are incredibly nutritious fruits.

The creamy, green flesh is not only rich in healthy, monounsaturated fatty acids — it's also packed with fiber.

In fact, half an avocado delivers five grams of fiber (12).

Avocados have been linked to improved heart health, as well as to overall better diet quality and nutrient intake (13).

You can use an avocado instead of butter, or use it to top salads and other dishes.

Bottom Line: Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats and fiber. They're a healthy alternative to many other types of fat.

Nuts and seeds provide protein, fat and fiber.

An ounce of almonds has three grams of fiber. They're also high in unsaturated fats, magnesium and vitamin E (14).

What's more, nuts and seeds are versatile foods. They're shelf-stable and nutrient-dense, making them ideal snacks to have on hand.

You can also use them in recipes to add extra nutrition and fiber to your meals.

Bottom Line: Seeds and nuts provide protein, healthy fats and fiber. They're ideal for snacking or adding to recipes.

When baking, choose a flour that will add extra nutrition to muffins, breads and other baked goods.

You can easily replace white flour with whole-wheat pastry flour. This fine-textured flour has three times as much fiber as white flour (15, 16).

Some alternative flours are even richer in fiber.

For example, an ounce of coconut flour has eleven grams of fiber, while the same amount of soy flour has five grams (17, 18).

Several other non-wheat flours have three grams of fiber per ounce — the same as whole wheat flour. These include almond, hazelnut, chickpea, buckwheat and barley flours (19, 20, 21, 22).

Bottom Line: Replace all-purpose flour with alternatives. These include whole-wheat flour and flours made from nuts, coconut and other whole grains.

Berries with seeds are among the most fiber-rich fruits.

For the most fiber, choose raspberries or blackberries at 8 grams per cup. Other good choices are strawberries (3 grams) and blueberries (4 grams) (23, 24, 25, 26).

Berries also tend to have less sugar than other fruits.

Add berries to cereal and salads, or pair them with yogurt for a healthy snack. Frozen and fresh berries are equally healthy.

Bottom Line: Berries are among the most high-fiber, low-sugar fruits. Use them fresh or frozen.

Legumes — that is, beans, dried peas and lentils — are an important part of many traditional diets.

They're very rich in fiber, as well as protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals.

In fact, a cup of cooked beans can deliver up to 75% of your daily fiber needs (27).

Replacing meat with legumes in a few meals per week is linked to increased life span and a decreased risk of several chronic diseases. Their positive impact on the gut microbiome may be partially responsible for these benefits (28).

There are several ways to increase legume consumption:

  • Use hummus and other bean dips.
  • Add mashed or whole beans to ground beef dishes.
  • Top salads with cooked beans or lentils.

Bottom Line: Beans are highly nutritious foods that may reduce the risk of chronic disease. They provide protein and high amounts of fiber.

When you peel fruits and vegetables, you often remove half the fiber.

For instance, one small apple has 4 grams of fiber, but a peeled apple has only 2 grams (29, 30).

Similarly, a small potato has 4 grams of fiber, two of which are from the skin (31, 32).

While cucumbers aren't particularly high in fiber, one cucumber has 2 grams of fiber and half of this is in the peel (33, 34).

The kind of fiber found in the peel of fruits and vegetables is generally insoluble fiber.

Bottom Line: Fruit and vegetable peels are rich in fiber. Peels provide roughage needed for healthy digestion and preventing constipation.

Whole plant foods are the ideal way to get fiber. However, if you are going to eat processed foods, you may as well choose products that are rich in fiber.

Some foods — including yogurt, granola bars, cereals and soups — have functional fibers added to them.

These are extracted from natural sources and then added to foods as a supplement.

Common names you can look for on food labels are inulin and polydextrose.

Also, read the nutrition label to see how many grams of fiber are in a serving. Over 2.5 grams per serving is considered a good source, and 5 grams or more is excellent.

Bottom Line: When shopping processed foods, check the ingredient list for fiber. Also, check the nutrition label for the grams of fiber per serving.

Spread your fiber intake throughout the day. Focus on eating high-fiber foods at each meal, including snacks.

Here's an example of how to make high-fiber choices throughout the day:

  • Breakfast: Choose a high-fiber cereal or oatmeal and add berries and seeds.
  • Snack: Pair raw vegetables with bean dip or raw fruit with nut butter.
  • Lunch: Have a salad. If you make a sandwich, choose 100% whole-grain bread.
  • Dinner: Add beans and other vegetables to casseroles and stews. Try a variety of cooked whole grains.

Bottom Line: Including a higher-fiber food at every meal is one simple way to increase your fiber intake.


Fiber Diet: How It Changes Your Gut and How to Eat More

Fibre: Why You Should Increase Your Intake Right Away

  • The scientific lowdown on fiber
  • Get more fiber
  • The verdict on fiber

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It’s easy to get caught up in counting calories and grams of added sugars, fats, proteins, and carbs when you’re trying to eat well. But there’s one nutrient that too often gets thrown to the wayside: dietary fiber.

Scientists have long known that eating fiber is good for health. Decades ago, Irish physician (and fiber enthusiast) Denis Burkitt proclaimed, “America is a constipated nation… if you pass small stools, you have to have large hospitals.” And yet, years later, many of us are still ignoring our fiber intake.

American adults are only eating an average of 15 grams of fiber on any given day, despite the daily recommendations from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics being:

  • 25 grams for women, or 21 grams if over 50 years old
  • 38 grams for men, or 30 grams if over 50

Recently, however, fiber has popped up in headlines thanks to people journalist Megyn Kelly and model Molly Sims, who have both credited their physiques on mainlining roughage.

And more importantly, new research has been shedding more light on how fiber helps our bodies.

This nutrient has been linked to fending off disease and reducing the risk of a range of conditions, including type 2 diabetes, food allergies, and even knee arthritis.

Star-studded endorsements aside, it’s not about eating a “high-fiber” diet as much as it’s simply this: Eat more fiber. Fiber does more than contributing to weight loss and reducing the risk of disease.

Losing out on those recommended fiber grams per day may significantly change the way your gut functions. It could even make a difference between weight loss or none, and longer life or not.

Many studies have strongly linked high-fiber diets with longer and healthier lives. For example, Dr.

Burkitt, as mentioned above, found in the 1960s that Ugandans who ate high-fiber vegetable diets avoided many of the common diseases of Europeans and Americans.

In addition, studies in the late ’80s found that long-living rural Japanese populations ate high-fiber diets, as opposed to urban dwellers with lower fiber intakes.

But only recently have we gained a deeper understanding of why fiber is so vital to our well-being.

A 2017 study found that the importance of fiber is intimately tied with the importance of our gut microbes. A proper fiber diet literally feeds and makes these bacteria thrive. In turn, they increase in number and kind.

The more microbes we have in our intestines, the thicker the mucus wall and the better the barrier between our body and our busy bacteria population.

While the mucus barrier lowers inflammation throughout the body, the bacteria aid in digestion, creating a dual benefit.

A living, walking example of the great connection between fiber, intestinal bacteria, and health are the Hazda, a Tanzanian tribe that’s one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer communities in the world.

They eat a spectacular 100 grams of fiber a day, all from food sources that are seasonally available.

As a result, their gut biome is packed with diverse populations of bacteria, which ebb and flow with the changing of the seasons and the changes in their diet.

Your biome can change by the season, by the week, or even by the meal. And if you eat a large array of fresh fruits, grains, and vegetables, your gut health will reflect that. Eating low-fiber foods, or eating only a few types of fiber — such as the same fiber supplement every day — can harm your intestinal biome and the health of your protective mucus wall.

However, eating too much fiber can cause digestive distress, gas, and intestinal blockages. The good news is that it’s hard to get too much fiber, especially since most people don’t get enough. Slowly ramping up your fiber intake can help you avoid some of the above problems. Not overdoing it will help you avoid the rest.

So how can we ditch our constipated ways and eat more in line with how our bodies have evolved to function alongside our gut biomes? While there are two types of fiber — soluble fiber and insoluble fiber — high-fiber enthusiasts are all about both types. Each kind has its own functions and benefits. Getting both is key to getting the most this nutrient.

Here are some quick tips to build a thriving and diverse gut biome and reap the long-term benefits of a fiber-friendly diet:

Fruits and vegetables are always your friend

Fiber is naturally found in all fruits and vegetables. You can’t really go wrong by adding these components to your daily regime. In fact, one study found that simply eating an apple before every meal had significant health benefits.

Eat what’s in season

The Hazda have a diverse gut in part by eating seasonally. Always check out your grocery store’s fresh, in-season fruits and veggies. Not only are they great for you, but they also often taste better and are less expensive than what’s season.

Processed foods usually mean less fiber

Refined foods that don’t contain whole grains or whole wheat are also lower in fiber. This includes white bread and regular pasta. Juicing is also processed in a sense, since it removes the insoluble fiber from your food. The result is that you lose fiber’s benefits — especially its important job of regulating digestion and keeping blood sugar from spiking.

Be thoughtful at restaurants

Restaurants, especially fast-food joints, often skimp on fruits and veggies because they’re expensive. When looking at the menu, be sure to pick something rich in fruit, veggies, and beans or legumes that will help you meet your fiber goals for the day.

Toss a high-fiber component into your meal

Next time you have a piece of pizza, make sure to munch on a handful of snap peas on the side, or add some multigrain crackers if you’re eating soup for lunch. Eating a high-fiber snack before your meal can also mean eating fewer calories altogether, because you’ll feel more full.

Don’t forget beans, peas, and lentils

We often remember to eat our fruits and veggies, but legumes are a wonderful and delicious source of fiber. Try a recipe that puts legumes in the spotlight, a three-bean vegetarian chili or a lentil salad.

Make sure fiber starts at breakfast

Most traditional breakfast foods, eggs and bacon, lack fiber. Integrate fiber into the first meal of your day by eating oatmeal or a whole-grain cereal. You can also simply add a piece of fruit to your regular fare. Eating yogurt for breakfast? Add sliced fruit and nuts.

Explore the world of whole grains

Next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up some amaranth, bulgur, pearl barley, or wheat berries and start exploring. Other good high-fiber choices are quinoa (a seed) or whole-wheat couscous (a pasta).

Skip the fiber supplements

Fiber supplements can give you a small boost, but the benefits of getting your fiber from whole foods are much greater. What’s more, people taking fiber supplements might not be pairing them with high-nutrient foods. This causes rather than solves health issues.

Too much of a good thing

Just most things, fiber isn’t great in extremely high quantities. Focusing too much on one aspect of your nutrient intake is neither sustainable nor healthy, either. Try tracking your fiber intake for a few weeks to see if you’re getting enough, then tinker with your intake to see if eating a little more improves how you feel.

At this point, there’s enough science out there to strongly suggest something you’ve ly heard before: Eating a robust variety of minimally processed fruits and veggies along with other plant-based foods is a great way to stay healthy and control your weight — and the fiber in these foods is ly a central reason why they’re so great for our bodies. So go forth and repopulate more varieties of bacteria in your gut!

Sarah Aswell is a freelance writer who lives in Missoula, Montana, with her husband and two daughters. Her writing has appeared in publications that include The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, National Lampoon, and Reductress. You can reach out to her on .


Your next-level guide to increasing your fiber intake (without pooping your pants)

Fibre: Why You Should Increase Your Intake Right Away

You’ve done your reading, and you’ve got the fiber scoop down. You understand that fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and legumes; and that it promotes gut health, low cholesterol, and low blood sugar, and helps you feel full longer. You’ve even started trying to eat more fiber.

Basically, you’ve mastered the 101-level life course on fiber. But experts say to really reap all of the nutrient’s benefits, you need to get serious about your fiber intake. Consider this your 201-level guide to eating more fiber…you know, without becoming a gassy, farty mess.

1. Eat more of it than you think you need

The USDA’s 2015-2020 dietary guidelines for Americans recommend 14 grams of dietary fiber per 1,000 kcals a day. That translates to a recommendation of between 25.2 and 28 grams of dietary fiber each day for women ages 18 to 50.

Women in the U.S. get, on average, 15 grams a day, which means you ly need way more than you’re consuming, even if you’ve already significantly upped your daily amount.

“I think [my clients] overestimate the amount that they get from certain things and don’t realize that it’s actually not so simple to get that 25 grams without a little bit of planning,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, founder of Nutrition Starring You and author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. “They’re , ‘I had a big salad,’ and it was three grams of fiber, because lettuce doesn’t have that much.”

2. Keep prioritizing whole foods fiber sources

That doesn’t mean you should just reach for a powder or supplement and call it a day. “You should always try and get your nutrients—whether it’s fiber or your vitamins—from whole foods first,” says F-Factor founder Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD.

“And that’s because whole foods are going to not just have that nutrient, but other nutrients. And they provide satiety, and they’re yummy.” Some high-fiber food examples: Raspberries have a surprising eight grams of fiber per cup. Boiled black beans pack in 15 grams per cup.

And whole wheat cooked spaghetti has six grams per cup.

If you’re struggling to hit that 25 gram minimum fiber count through natural means, supplementation is something to consider. (Say if you have food allergies or sensitivities that force you to limit consumption of certain fibrous foods, grains or legumes.

) “The word ‘supplement’ simply means that your diet is being supplemented with a certain vitamin or nutrient because it doesn’t have enough of it,” says Zuckerbrot. “So it’s not called a replacement; it’s not supposed to replace foods with that nutrient.” If you have to do this, Zuckerbrot suggests powder over pills. “You’re not using it just with water,” she explains.

“You’re actually combining it with other foods and making recipes, so you’re enhancing the nutrients that you’d be eating anyway.”

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Looking for high-fiber inspo? Try Shailene Woodley’s go-to, fiber-filled brekkie: 

3. Don’t stress too much about soluble versus insoluble fiber

As a fiber pro, you ly already know that there are two types of it: soluble and insoluble. Think of the former as a sponge, says Zuckerbrot.

It soaks up water, fat, and cholesterol, and that’s how fiber keeps you feeling full longer. Insoluble fiber—sometimes called roughage—is more a broom, explains Zuckerbrot.

It keeps things moving through your digestive tract, and lowers the risk of colon cancer and diverticular disease.

While it’s good to be aware of both (and their respective benefits), you don’t have to worry too much about which types of fiber are in which foods, says Zuckerbrot.

“Most foods actually have a little bit of both,” she says. “I find that if you focus on getting enough [total] fiber in your diet, you’re going to get a combination of both. You’ll get enough of each.

” Hopefully that takes a bit of stress your high-fiber menu planning.

4. Slow and steady wins the fiber intake race

Some people handle extra fiber a boss, and others react super strongly to it.

“I have people who eat 100 grams of fiber a day and it doesn’t faze them, and you have people who eat 10 [grams] and they’re , ‘Wow,’” says Harris-Pincus. “It just really depends on you.

I would recommend just increasing by a serving or two a day for the first week, and then bring it up another one, and just see how you do.”

Start with a fiber-rich breakfast to rev up your metabolism and get going right away on your fiber goals. “This way [you] don’t have to catch up later in the day,” says Zuckerbrot. “The other thing I about having fiber early in the day is that you don’t want to go to bed with a big belly [because you saved] all of your fiber for dinner. You’re not going to be comfortable.”

Zuckerbrot also suggests spending more time eating your meals when you can (aim for at least 20 minutes per meal), because chowing down quickly can cause you to take in more air, which can get trapped in your stomach and lead to more bloating.

Be sure to simultaneously increase your water intake when eating more fiber so you don’t feel the results in your bathroom habits.

Everyone needs different amounts of H20 depending on their activity level, the climate, their weight, and so on, but Zuckerbrot says to aim for something three liters a day.

If you feel bloated and distressed when you start adding in fiber, scale it back a little bit until your body can get used to its new levels, or consider consulting a dietitian for help increasing your fiber in a way that works for you. But if you’re, um, a little farty, that’s probably fine, says Harris-Pincus.

“Being a little gassy is not a bad thing. It kind of means your digestive tract is working,” she says. “If you are physically uncomfortable, and you feel distended, that’s very different than, , ‘I ate some beans, and it makes me have to pass some gas.’” The latter, she says, is perfectly normal. (Good. To. Know.


Looking for easier ways to boost your fiber intake? Check out these easy high-fiber breakfast and dinner recipes.


Increasing Fiber Intake

Fibre: Why You Should Increase Your Intake Right Away

A high-fiber diet appears to reduce the risk of developing various conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease, constipation and colon cancer. Fiber is important for the health of the digestive system and for lowering cholesterol.

What is fiber?

Dietary fiber is material from plant cells that cannot be broken down by enzymes in the human digestive tract. There are two important types of fiber: water-soluble and water insoluble. Each has different properties and characteristics.

  • Soluble Water-soluble fibers absorb water during digestion. They increase stool bulk and may decrease blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber can be found in fruits (such as apples, oranges and grapefruit), vegetables, legumes (such as dry beans, lentils and peas), barley, oats and oat bran.
  • Insoluble Water-insoluble fibers remain unchanged during digestion. They promote normal movement of intestinal contents. Insoluble fiber can be found in fruits with edible peel or seeds, vegetables, whole grain products (such as whole-wheat bread, pasta and crackers), bulgur wheat, stone ground corn meal, cereals, bran, rolled oats, buckwheat and brown rice.

How much fiber do I need each day?

The American Heart Association Eating Plan suggests eating a variety of food fiber sources. Total dietary fiber intake should be 25 to 30 grams a day from food, not supplements. Currently, dietary fiber intakes among adults in the United States average about 15 grams a day. That's about half the recommended amount.

Grains and Cereals

  • As a general rule, include at least one serving of whole grain in every meal.
  • Keep a jar of oat bran or wheat germ handy. Sprinkle over salad, soup, breakfast cereals and yogurt.
  • Use whole-wheat flour when possible in your cooking and baking.
  • Choose whole grain bread.

    Look on the label for breads with the highest amount of fiber per slice.

  • Choose cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
  • Keep whole-wheat crackers on hand for an easy snack.
  • Cook with brown rice instead of white rice. If the switch is hard to make, start by mixing them together.

Legumes and Beans

  • Add kidney beans, garbanzos or other bean varieties to your salads. Each 1/2 cupserving is approximately 7 to 8 grams of fiber.
  • Substitute legumes for meat two to three times per week in chili and soups
  • Experiment with international dishes (such as Indian or Middle Eastern) that usewhole grains and legumes as part of the main meal or in salads.

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Fresh fruit is slightly higher in fiber than canned. Eat the peel whenever possible — it's easier than peeling or eating around it.
  • Have fresh fruit for dessert.
  • Eat whole fruits instead of drinking juices. Juices don't have fiber.
  • Add chopped dried fruits to your cookies, muffins, pancakes or breads before baking.Dried fruits have a higher amount of fiber than the fresh versions. For example, 1 cup of grapes has 1 gram of fiber, but 1 cup of raisins has 7 grams. However, 1 cup of raisins or any other dried fruit has more calories than the fresh fruit variety.
  • Add sliced banana, peach or other fruit to your cereal.
  • Grate carrots on salads.

Fiber supplements

To find information on fiber supplements, please see Fiber Supplements.

How much fiber do I get from fruits and vegetables?

While all fruits have some fiber, there are some that are higher than others. Here are a few that have 3 to 4 grams of fiber:

  • Apple
  • Orange
  • Tangerine
  • Pear
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup strawberries

Raspberries are high in fiber, as one cup has 8 grams.

Here are some vegetable choices that have 3 to 4 grams of fiber:

  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup squash

Why is soluble fiber so important?

Soluble fiber has been shown to reduce total blood cholesterol levels and may improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

The best sources of soluble fiber are oats, dried beans and some fruits and vegetables. Although there is no dietary reference intake for insoluble or soluble fiber, many experts recommend a total dietary fiber intake of 25 to 30 grams per day with about one-fourth — 6 to 8 grams per day — coming from soluble fiber.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.

Diverticular Disease and Diet

Diverticulosis is a condition in which small, bulging pouches (diverticuli) form inside the lower part of the intestine, usually in the colon. Learn more here.

Fiber Supplements

A diet high in fiber has about 25 grams per day. The information here will help you understand how to get that amount of fiber in your diet with supplements.

Fiber and Lactose

Fiber and lactose are two common food substances that can cause problems with diarrhea. Learn more about fiber and lactose in your diet here.

Anal Fissures

Anal fissures are cracks or tears in the skin around the anus, causing burning and sharp pain when you have a bowel movement. Find treatment options here.


Hemorrhoids are part of the normal anatomy of the anus and lower rectum. They act as cushions to protect the anal skin from the passage of stool. Learn more.

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