Do You Know How Much Fiber Your Body Needs?
We all know fiber is important, but for some reason most people still aren't getting enough. In fact, the majority of Americans don't even know how much fiber their bodies need to function well. We'll cover the difference between soluble vs insoluble fiber and give you some smart tips for increasing fiber in your diet.
Dietary Fiber is the Best Diet Aid
Sure, you know you need fiber, but do you know why? Dietary fiber has a host of health benefits, most notably the ability to lower LDL, or bad, cholesterol and help people maintain a healthy weight. In fact, simply increasing your fiber intake to the recommended FDA dietary guideline levels can result in dramatic and lasting benefits.
Another fiber mystery is the difference between soluble vs. insoluble fiber. Both are types of dietary fiber and are equally important. Soluble fiber can be dissolved in water. In the human body, it forms a gel that makes it sit in the stomach longer and digest slower. This helps you feel full longer and eat less as well as prevent the absorption of LDL cholesterol. Insoluble fiber can't be broken down by the body. It passes through the human gut intact and keeps the bowels clean and regular.
Best Sources of Dietary Fiber
- Fresh fruits and Vegetables are by far the best sources of dietary fiber. Eat at least two servings per meal and one snack each day. This can be as simple as adding a salad to lunch and a piece of fruit to breakfast.
- Whole grains are naturally rich in fiber. Switch to whole grain pasta, 100% whole wheat bread and brown rice. Aim for grains with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
- Nuts and seeds are good choices for fiber-rich snacks and garnishes. Try adding them to cereals, breads, pasta dishes, salads and as a topping on vegetables and desserts.
- Eat the peels and skins of fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Most of the fiber is found there.
- Eat a vegetarian meal based around whole grains or legumes once a week. Vegetarian chili, whole grain pasta with cannellini beans or veggie pizza on whole wheat crust are all good options
How Much Fiber Do You Need?
Studies show that most Americans get far less fiber than they need on a daily basis. The average American eats about 15 grams of dietary fiber daily. Most women under the age of 50 need 25 grams a day, and men under age 50 need between 30 and 38 grams, depending on their caloric intake. It doesn't matter if the fiber is soluble fiber vs insoluble fiber, both are good. This important nutrient can make a dramatic difference in your overall health, so start increasing your intake now. Build up your fiber intake gradually over two weeks to avoid intestinal upsets and you'll be well on your way to a happier, healthier you.