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How much fiber should I eat each day?

Robynne K. Chutkan, MD
Gastroenterology
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.
Dr. David L. Katz, MD, MPH
Preventive Medicine
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. 
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.
William B. Salt II., MD
Gastroenterology
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).
Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

Fast Facts on IBS: One in five people suffers from the frustrating symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). There is no simple answer--no pill, potion, or quick fix--that will cure IBS. But help...
Dariush Mozaffarian, MD
Internal Medicine
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
Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics

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.

Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics

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.

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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.