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Experts recommend that a healthy adult eat 20 to 35 grams of dietary fiber per day. You can meet this goal by eating a well-balanced diet containing a variety of foods, including the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day as well as making half your grains whole grains. Remember to increase the dietary fiber in your diet gradually to avoid gastric distress, and to drink plenty of fluid to avoid constipation.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the adequate intake of fiber per day is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. The reality is that most Americans do not consume enough dietary fiber everyday but this can be easily changed if Americans incorporated more beans and legumes, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains into their every day diets.
Since many whole grains vary in fiber content, it is best to check the Nutrition Facts label to compare their amount of dietary fiber. Increasing dietary fiber to reach one’s goal is as simple as making a healthier food swap, such as choosing brown rice instead of white rice would add about 2 grams of fiber per ½ cup serving.
The most recent guidelines come from the National Academy of Sciences with the recommendation of 25 grams/day of fiber for women and 38 grams of fiber/day for men under the age of 50 years. For adults over 50 years of age the recommendations are reduced to 21 grams/day for women and 30 grams/day for men. Currently Americans consume only about 14-15 grams/day of fiber. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines took into account the number of servings of food groups containing fiber to help us meet the recommendations. Based on a 2000 calorie diet, if we consume the recommended 2.5 cups of vegetables and fruit/day and 6 ounces of grain with half of our grain choices being whole grains, we can achieve the recommended amount of fiber.
I recommend that people eat at least 35 grams of fiber daily for optimal digestive health; many studies show that the average American eats less than 10 grams. For most of my patients with diverticulosis -- a condition where the colon develops little pockets (potholes) as a result of a diet that's relatively low in fiber and high in animal products -- I recommend 1 or 2 heaping tablespoons of ground psyllium husk to help them reach their fiber intake target goal. Fiber cleans out the colon and the colon is one of the major routes for toxins to be expelled from the body. Having a good bowel movement is really the ultimate detox.
To reap the heart-health benefits of fiber, your diet must include soluble fiber. Research suggests it takes 3 grams a day for a cholesterol-lowering effect. Here are some equivalents:
- 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal or ready-to-eat oat bran cereals
- 3/4 cup of uncooked oatmeal (added to meat loaf, salmon, cakes, muffin batter or as a topping for yogurt or fruit).
Don't overdo your fiber intake. Eating more than 50 to 60 grams of fiber in a day can also lower the absorption of other vitamins and minerals that occurs during digestion.
Eat plenty of foods that contain dietary fiber (the edible, indigestible parts of plant foods). Good sources include fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and dark chocolate. Fiber from these sources helps lower the risk of heart disease, and these foods also contain other heart-healthy nutrients. Your daily fiber goal depends on your age and sex, as follows:
- men ages 50 or younger: 38 grams
- men over 50: 30 grams
- women ages 50 or younger: 25 grams
- women over 50: 21 grams
For optimal health and weight control, a 2,000-calorie diet should contain at least 25 g per day of soluble fiber; additional potential benefits can be seen at 50 g per day.
Adults should aim for ~25-35g fiber/day. However, it is important to stay adequately hydrated (drink plenty of water) for your body to be able to safely process your fiber-rich diet. If you are wanting to add more fiber into your diet, do so gradually to allow your body to get used to it.
Most people do not eat enough dietary fiber, consuming only ten to fifteen grams of fiber per day. For many reasons, including bowel regularity, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that people eat twenty-five to thirty-five grams of fiber per day. Most people are five - twenty grams short of that daily goal. Experts urge healthy individuals to add fiber through a well-balanced diet containing high fiber foods (both soluble and insoluble sources of fiber).
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.