How Much Fiber Per Day Do I Need?
When considering how much fiber per day do I need, it’s important to understand what fiber is, where it comes from, the dangers associated with too little fiber, and the benefits of fiber in the diet. Fiber intake is something that you might think comes naturally, but most Americans are fiber-deficient on a daily basis. Most people consume only up to 15 grams of fiber per day, but the recommended daily allowance is 21 grams of fiber for women over 50.
What is Fiber?
Fiber comes from plants. It’s the part of plant foods that the body isn’t able to easily digest. Fiber passes through your intestines, providing benefits along the way. There are two main types of fiber to be aware of; insoluble and soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber doesn’t not absorb water or dissolve in water. It passes straight through the digestive system. Insoluble fiber provides many benefits such as a reduction in the risk of hemorrhoids and/or constipation.
Soluble fiber absorbs water. In the intestines, soluble fiber swells and forms a gelatinous substance. The many benefits of soluble fiber include better weight loss, lowered cholesterol and moderation of glucose levels in the blood.
What Are Good Sources of Dietary Fiber?
If you’re looking for natural ways to supplement your daily fiber intake, you don’t have to look far. Some of the best sources of dietary fiber are:
- nuts and seeds
- unpeeled apples
- brown rice
There are many more foods that contain high amounts of fiber for your diet. The best thing you can do is to ensure that you eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and grains each day, since this is where you’ll get the most fiber.
What are the Benefits Associated With Fiber?
Study after study has proven the correlation between fiber intake and improved health. In a study published in The Lancet, researchers showed that there is a 15%-30% decrease in non-communicable diseases in people who have between 25% and 29% grams of fiber each day.
At the University of Illinois, dietary fiber was proven to reduce brain inflammation during aging. Brain inflammation has been shown to be linked with cognitive decline, so this is an important benefit for older women in their prime.
Researchers in Germany reported how the combination of dietary fiber and gut bacteria helps support the cardio-vascular system. This indicates that fiber is an important component for healthy heart functioning.
As reported in the medical journal, Journey, laboratory mice given high amounts of fiber on a daily basis had intensified immune response against the flu virus.
In a Harvard study conducted with female nurse participants, fiber intake reduced their risk of heart disease.
Correlation Between Low Fiber Intake and Colon Cancer
The American Institute for Cancer Research reports that whole grains, which are a rich source of fiber, greatly reduce the risk of colon cancer. Estimates are the a whopping 47% of the incidents of colon cancer in the U.S. alone could be prevented with lifestyle changes that include more fiber intake. Colon cancer is much more prevalent in Western Nations, where the population eats more processed food and less fiber.
In a study conducted where Americans ate an African-style diet with abundant fiber for just two weeks, Americans had fewer biomarkers for colon cancer.
Finally, there is abundant evidence that a high fiber diet is associated with colon health. For instance, a study published by the University of Michigan Health System reports that eating a diet rich in fiber helps protect the lining of the colon and helps prevent infection. When the body doesn’t get enough fiber, microbes in the gut feed on the colon’s lining. Ingesting fiber in the form of food or supplements resolves this issue.
What are the Best Fiber Supplements?
It’s hard to get enough daily fiber in the diet alone. That’s why many people turn to a fiber supplement in order to meet the minimum daily requirement. Ultimately, the best fiber supplements are the ones that work best with your body. You have a lot of choices when it comes to fiber supplements. Just be aware that some brands have added ingredients in addition to the fiber. Sometimes these additives enhance flavor; other times they are added for extra benefits, such as for antioxidants. Make sure you read the labels on any fiber supplement you decide to take. And, if it doesn’t work the way you anticipated, don’t hesitate to switch brands. There can be a lot of differences between one brand and the next.
Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Fiber?
While it’s important to be aware of how much fiber per day to ingest, there is such a thing as taking in too much fiber. An excess of fiber can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, constipation and gas. More seriously, excess fiber can inhibit the absorption of important nutrients like iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium. Continued excess fiber could eventually lead to a blockage in the intestines. Since it’s challenging to get enough fiber each day, taking in too much fiber is rare. However, it is good to be aware that, as with all other things, moderation is key for fiber intake.
If you’ve been wondering how much fiber per day should you have, now you have the information you need to ensure you meet minimum requirements of 21 grams for women over 50 years of age. For the most part, you can get your fiber from a diet plentiful in fresh fruits and vegetables. You can then supplement with commercial fiber brands when needed. Just be sure you strike a healthy balance between too little fiber and too much.