Getting Enough Fiber
Why is fiber important?
Eating a high-fiber diet is thought to help prevent constipation and its related problems. It may lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and help control blood sugar levels. And it may help with reaching and staying at a healthy weight.
What is the recommended daily amount of fiber?
The daily adequate intake amount for fiber has been calculated by the U.S. Institute of Medicine. Men ages 19 and older should strive for 38 grams a day and women ages 19 and older should aim for 25 grams a day.
|Age (years)||Women (grams a day)||Men (grams a day)|
|51 and older||21||30|
|Pregnant, age 19 and older||28|
|Breast-feeding, age 19 and older||29|
How can you get more fiber?
Fiber is in many foods, including beans, peas, other vegetables, fruits, and whole grain products. You can figure out how much fiber is in a food by looking at the Reference nutrition facts label Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window. If a food has fiber, it will be listed under the total carbohydrate on the label. The food label assumes the daily value (DV) of fiber is 25 grams a day (g/day) for a 2,000 calorie diet.
|Food||Serving size||Dietary fiber (grams)|
|Beans (navy, pinto, black, kidney, lima, white, great northern), cooked||½ cup||6.2–9.6|
|100% bran cereal||½ cup||8.8|
|Split peas, lentils, chickpeas, or cowpeas, cooked||½ cup||5.6–8.1|
|Bulgur, cooked||½ cup||4.1|
|Berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)||½ cup||1.75–4.0|
|Apple with skin||1 small||3.3|
|Whole-wheat spaghetti, cooked||½ cup||3.1|
|Brown rice, cooked||½ cup||1.8|
Be sure to increase the amount of fiber in your diet slowly so that your stomach can adjust to the change. Adding too much fiber too quickly may cause stomach upset and gas.
Some doctors recommend adding bran to your diet to help boost the fiber content. If you do this, start slowly with 1 teaspoon a day. Gradually increase the amount to several teaspoons a day.
Are there any risks from fiber?
Some people who have Reference diverticulitis Opens New Window avoid nuts, seeds, berries, and popcorn (because of the hulls). They believe that the seeds and nuts may get trapped in the diverticula and cause pain. But there is no evidence that seeds, nuts, and berries cause diverticulitis or make it worse.Reference 3
Does fiber help digestion?
If your diet is high enough in fiber, your stools should become softer, larger, and easier to pass.
- Changing your diet may relieve constipation, but it may not help relieve abdominal (belly) pain.
- If you don't have any improvement within a week or two, talk to your doctor about your diet.
- Talk to your doctor if constipation continues or gets worse. Another medical problem or a medicine may be causing constipation.
Drink enough fluids every day to help keep your stool soft. High-fiber diets need enough fluid in the body to work properly.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference July 19, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology