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What is Fiber?

Fiber is important for overall digestive health. Fiber is a natural carbohydrate within certain foods. It is also available as a dietary supplement.

Below are some of the health benefits that fiber offers:

  • Helps you feel full: Fiber adds bulk to your foods, which offers an extended feeling of fullness when you eat.
  • Aids bowel regularity: Fiber adds bulk and absorbs water in the stool, which helps to propel your natural bowel movement and contribute to keeping you regular.
  • Helps microbiome thrive: Many fibers promote the growth of the good bacteria present in the lower portion of the digestive tract, which additionally aids in digestive balance.
  • Can lower cholesterol: The consistency of certain fibers help absorb bile salts thereby forcing your body to utilize cholesterol to make more bile.
  • Can help control blood sugar: Some fibers help slow the absorption of the sugars in your food, which can help keep your blood sugars more level.

Fiber Recommendations for Adults

Daily Fiber Needs (g) Men Women
Ages 19-50 years 38 g 25 g
Ages 51-70+ years 30 g 21 g

On average, U.S. adults take in only 16 grams (g) of fiber on a daily basis – much lower than the published recommended levels.

Including Fiber in Your Diet

Dietary fiber is found most abundantly in whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit. Some of the highest fiber-containing foods include bran, barley, oats, beans, broccoli, sweet potatoes, raspberries and blackberries, and in products that contain psyllium.

Reading nutrition labels for total fiber content and logging your food intake for a few days can help give an estimate of how many grams of fiber you are consuming. Here is a sample menu that includes 30 grams of fiber for one day.

  • Breakfast: 2 slices of suitable for the Low FODMAP Diet whole wheat toast (i.e. gluten free or sourdough) with peanut butter, ½ cup sliced strawberries, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds sprinkled on top (13 grams fiber)
  • Lunch: 2 cups lettuce, ½ cup grated carrot, ¼ cup cucumber, 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, ¼ cup chickpeas, sliced tomato, 1 ounce of parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons vinaigrette (9 grams fiber)
  • Dinner: 3-4 ounces grilled chicken, ½ cup cooked sweet potato, 1 cup cooked broccoli (9 grams of fiber)

Visit these resources for more information on foods containing fiber:

If you find your diet is still falling short on fiber, you can supplement your diet with fiber supplements found in the digestive health aisle of your local store.

Can Fiber Help Keep Me Regular?

Yes. Consuming fiber is key to supporting regularity with your bowel movements. Whether as part of the foods you eat intake or a fiber supplement for days you might fall short, soluble and insoluble fiber can play a role in keeping your natural bowel movement comfortable and gentle. Here are some simple tips to help you decide which type you might need more of in your diet:

Soluble fiber = Think, Movement

Soluble fiber is found in foods like oats and barley as well as some fiber supplements such as psyllium and partially hydrolyzed guar gum. Soluble fiber is fermentable which means it provides fuel for the intestinal microbiota. Some forms of soluble fiber are viscous and can hold water. This can assist with softening hard stool and firming liquid stool.

Insoluble fiber = Think, Bulking

Insoluble fiber is found in foods like wheat bran and cabbage and ingredients like pea fiber. Insoluble fiber is non-viscous, meaning it does not absorb water, but acts rather to create bulk in the bowel.

What Are FODMAPs?