Eat More Fiber for Digestive Health

By a PacMed Dietitian

VegetablesAre you getting enough fiber in your diet? Adequate fiber intake can help lower cholesterol levels, keep blood sugar levels under control and prevent constipation and diverticulosis.

A high-fiber diet is also usually lower in calories and can increase feelings of fullness after meals, which can help promote a healthy weight. So, how much fiber do we need? What are good sources?

The recommended amount of fiber is 25g per day for women (21g over age 51) and 38g per day for men (30g over age 51). Unfortunately, most Americans fall far short of the recommended amount.

Fiber is found in plant foods such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and whole-grain products.

Try these simple substitutions to increase the amount of fiber in your diet:

  • Have steel cut oats with nuts and berries for breakfast instead of cereal.
  • At lunchtime, choose bread products that say “whole wheat” as one of the first ingredients and add vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumber and spinach to sandwiches or wraps.
  • Add more vegetables or beans to casseroles and stews.
  • Try brown rice or wheat pasta instead of white rice or pasta.
  • Snack on fruits and vegetables during the day instead of packaged snacks from home or the vending machine.

As you increase the fiber in your diet, do it gradually and drink plenty of fluids. You may experience constipation and nausea if you consume more than your usual amount of fiber without adequate fluid intake.