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Are You Getting Enough Fiber?

Posted by rhondascooking on September 7, 2008

Fiber is very important in one’s diet despite the fact that many people do not eat enough of it.  Fiber, also known as dietary fiber, is a carbohydrate that is not digested by the body and used as energy like other carbohydrates; instead, the body eliminates fiber.1 I know you are probably asking yourself, “How can fiber be important if the body eliminates it?” 

 

It is important for the body to remove waste because if it remains in the body for a long period of time, then there is risk for potentially harmful substances to come into contact with the intestinal walls.1 So, whenever fiber is consumed it acts like a broom inside the body and sweeps up the waste in the intestines and colon. This is what keeps you from being constipated—yes, I said it! 

 

Fiber is not only important for keeping you regular, but also a high fiber diet is important for lowering the blood cholesterol levels and possibly for losing weight!  There are two different types of fiber—Soluble and insoluble.  Soluble fiber, unlike insoluble fiber, dissolves in water; this includes foods such as oat bran and buckwheat.

 

The amount of fiber that you should consume daily can be found in Table 1. 

Gender

Up to age 50

Over age 50

Men

38 grams

30 grams

Women

25 grams

21 grams

Table 1.Daily adequate intake of fiber for men and women.

 (Source: Institute of Medicine).

 

If you are not reaching your daily fiber target, then try adding variety high fiber foods, such as whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and vegetables to your daily meal plan, which can be seen in Table 2.  Notice that the bran and beans contain the most fiber and that foods that are high in sugar such as watermelon, white rice and orange juice contain less fiber.  So, the next time you go grocery shopping; please keep this list in mind!

 

Food

Fiber (grams)

Post Cereal Bran Flakes

17.6

Split peas, cooked

8.3

Lentils, cooked

7.9

Garbanzo beans, cooked

7.6

Psyllium Husks

6

Barley, cooked

5.8

Green peas, frozen

4

Pear

3.1

Apple

2.4

Fresh Spinach

2.2

Strawberries

2

100% whole wheat bread

2

Brown rice, cooked

1.8

Romaine lettuce

1.2

Grapes

0.9

Watermelon

0.4

White rice, cooked

0.4

Orange Juice

0.19

Table 2. Examples of low- and high-fiber foods

(Source: Esha Research Food Processor SQL).

 

1Duyff, Roberta Larson.  Complete Food and Nutrition Guide.  New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2006.  

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2 Responses to “Are You Getting Enough Fiber?”

  1. Konstantin said

    Please review http://www.GutSense.org for more nuanced discussion of fiber’s pros and cons. You may find that its ‘cons’ overweight its ‘pros’ by a wide margin.

    Konstantin Monastyrsky, author of Fiber Menace

  2. Thanks, Konstantin. I appreciate you providing so more details. I do think that there is balance in everything that we do no matter what. I also am a firm believer that what works for someone may not necessarily works for others. I just like providing the information and then people will have to take that information and assess it with their current situation. So, your information will be another data point, thanks.

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