How much fiber do you need?
Getting the right amount of fiber in your diet is important to your health and preventing disease. Much like water intake, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is lacking fiber. Big time.
To keep things simple, you can divide fiber into two general categories
- Soluble fibers: These are fermentable and lower blood cholesterol
- Insoluble fibers: These help you poop.
We need both of these in our diet, daily, to function optimally. A well functioning body will yield a lean and fit physique.
Unfortunately, the SAD is filled with fortified and refined foods - leaving Americans well below the ideal fiber intake from whole foods.
So how much fiber do you need to eat every day?
Women should aim for at least 30 to 35 grams of fiber per day.
Men should aim for at least 40 to 45 grams of fiber per day.
All children 1 to 3 years, 19 g/day
All children 4 to 8 years, 25 g/day
Boys 9 to 13 years, 31 g/day
Girls 9 to 13 years, 26 g/day
Why? Because low-fiber diets are associated with many health problems, including cardiovascular diseases, cancers, GI disorders and poor bowel function, diabetes, excess body fat and high blood pressure.
How do you eat more fiber? Eat more plants! The best sources are legumes, *whole grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts/seeds.
Don’t get tricked by food marketers and packaging… Remember that whole grains are whole grains, as in the entire thing — not whole grain flour, whole grain pasta, whole grain “nutrition bars”, or Fruit Loops with whole grains.
And no, Splenda is NOT a great source of fiber.
Fiber supplements (or fiber-supplemented foods from boxes and bags) don’t provide the micronutrients, phytochemicals and water found in whole plant foods.
An easy and tasty way (especially for picky kids) to get more fiber in your diet is to make a shake!
But Nicole, what about my FiberOne bars? Or Metamucil? I’d say anyone who relies on a fiber supplement/fiber-supplemented foods because they don’t get enough from whole food simply has a crappy diet (excluding those with unique medical situations, of course).
Now, I am well aware that there are a lot of people that are intolerant of some forms of fiber, like grains and legumes. There is evidence that the lectins in grains and beans/legumes can cause health problems for susceptible people, because they affect the lining of the gut.
If this is the case for you, stick to veggies and fruit.
Eat your veggies people. No matter what diet you subscribe to, everyone benefits from eating more plants.
-Nicole Race, Precision Nutrition Coach and Owner of Elevate