Fiber is one of the essential components of our diets, and most of us do not really meet the recommended daily guidelines in the US.
One of the lesser-known problems is when people overeat fiber quickly. This can also lead to digestive problems, among other issues. As per expert health tips, we must consume the right amount of fiber daily, little by little, throughout the day.
Fiber-rich foods are essential as a part of our weight loss journey as well. Expert health tips recommend that we meet the daily recommended intake of fiber to help our health in the long run.
To know more about recommendations on weight loss, dietary fiber guidelines, meal planning, and more such health tips, you can refer to the official US Department of Agriculture website.
Daily recommended fiber intake
Most of us fall short when meeting the recommended amount of fiber to be included as a part of our diets. A plant-based carbohydrate component, fiber, is the part of the food that does not get digested or absorbed when it moves through the intestines.
The recommended quantities of daily fiber intake will vary, depending on a person’s gender and age. The current Dietary Guidelines of Americans recommend the following estimated intake:
1. Adult men will require approximately 34 grams as per their age
2. Adult women will need approximately 28 grams as per their age
Fiber intake can also be modified for some age groups since energy requirements can vary at different points in life. For example, expert health tips recommend that children consume less fiber than adults, with a few lower and upper bounds for males and females as follows:
Teenagers (Ages 14-18)
Males - 25.2 grams
Females - 30.8 grams
Adolescents (Ages 9-13)
Males - 22.4 grams
Females - 25.2 grams
Children (Ages 4-8)
Males - 16.8 grams
Females - 19.6 grams
Children (Ages 1-3)
Most Americans do not meet their dietary fiber intake. A study from 2008 stated that the average daily intake for Americans was only 16 grams every day.
Having said this, on the other hand, eating a lot of fiber can cause constipation, bloating, and gas. These adverse effects usually start appearing after having consumed 70 grams of fiber every day. However, excessive fiber intake is uncommon in the US, while consuming too little fiber is a public health concern as per the FDA.
A balanced, high-fiber meal plan
As much as consuming a healthy amount of fiber is important, it is also important to ensure that our daily diets are balanced with different vitamins and nutrients. The following meal plan ensures that everyone hits or at least slightly exceeds the recommended daily fiber intake while still managing to consume a balanced diet.
The fiber content for breakfast
3/4 cup Bran flakes - 5 grams
1 cup plant-based milk - 0 grams
One medium banana - 2.6 grams
The fiber content for Snacks
One medium apple - 4.4 grams
The fiber content for lunch
1 cup baked beans - 6.8 grams
1.5 cups broccoli - 6.8 grams
The fiber content for dinner
One medium baked potato with skin - 3.8 grams
3 oz. Wild salmon - 0 grams
2 cups spinach salad with olive oil-based dressing - 1.4 grams
Fiber Content for dessert
Low-fat yogurt - 0 grams
1 cup sliced strawberries - 3.3 grams
Chopped almonds (13 grams) - 1.7 grams
Combined together, this makes up your total daily intake of up to 36.7 grams.
A person can use this USDA food composition database to find the essential composition of various food items.
Recommended fiber intake for weight loss
Expert health tips recommend that people looking forward to losing weight are encouraged to consume more fiber-rich food items since they tend to be extremely low on calories and high in nutrition. Fiber-rich food items can make a person feel fuller for a long time.
By adding more fiber-rich foods to your diet, you are actually slowing down the process of digestion. This ensures a person does not feel hungry frequently, thereby minimizing any cravings. This is one of the best health tips to lose weight. As per studies, only 5 percent of Americans tend to meet their daily fiber intake requirements. Eating more fiber-rich foods, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, is essential to maintaining a healthy weight.
Expert health tips also state that one cannot simply lose weight by merely increasing plant-based foods to meet daily fiber intake. When trying to lose weight, you should start aiming to meet the daily standards simply by basing your meals around fiber-rich food items and incorporating a daily exercise regime.
One needs to be careful when consuming high-fiber dietary supplements that aim to promote weight loss. Expert health tips state that there is almost none to extremely little evidence for supporting such claims.
How much fiber is too much fiber?
When increasing the fiber intake in your diet, it is best that you start with baby steps. Starting slow and increasing the fiber intake gradually will allow your digestive system some extra time to get used to an excess of fiber-rich food items. Consuming too many fiber-rich foods, incredibly quickly or in a short period, is not definitely wrong for your body and your metabolism.
Eating over 70 grams of fiber every day is not advised and can lead to adverse effects for your body, as per expert health tips.
Consequences of consuming too much fiber-rich food include:
1. Bloating, cramping, and gas
2. Decrease in appetite
3. Nutritional deficiency, for example, calcium, zinc, magnesium, etc., since fiber limits the overall nutritional absorption.
4. Risk of blocked intestines if high fiber-rich food items are consumed in large quantities with little to almost no fluid intake.
Types of fiber
There are two major types of fibers - solute and insoluble. Insoluble fiber-rich food is also called cellulose. They do not tend to dissolve in water but increase the overall movement of waste products in our bodies through the digestive tracts, helping us prevent constipation.
Soluble fiber-rich food items include beta-glucans and pectins, which can dissolve in water quickly to form a gel-like substance in our large intestines. Fiber-rich food items typically contain soluble as well as insoluble fiber contents. As per expert health tips, a healthy source of fiber can be found in:
3. Fruits, like apples, prunes, berries, and figs
4. Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and sweet potato
5. Wholegrain, like quinoa, barley, and wild rice
6. Whole wheat
7. Granary bread
8. Nuts, like peanuts, almonds, pecans, and pistachios
9. Seeds like flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds
10. Pulses, like lentils, peas, and beans
11. Psyllium husk
Prebiotics can occur naturally in leeks, garlic, asparagus, onions, oats, soy, and wheat.
Benefits of fiber
Fiber is an essential component of a healthy, balanced diet and offers multiple benefits, including:
Improved digestive health
Prevention of constipation
Reduction in the risk of heart diseases
Reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes
Reduction in the risk of colon cancer
Reduction in “bad” cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein levels
Improvement in the glycemic index (GI) of people with diabetes
Increase in the feeling of feeling fuller for long, or satiety
Expert health tips also mention that fiber-rich food items also contain prebiotics, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), as well as insulin. Prebiotics are extremely beneficial since they help encourage the growth and action of probiotics, which are beneficial gut bacteria. It also helps in the production of short-chained fatty acids.
Daily recommended fiber intake can be met by consuming various food items as a part of nutritious, balanced, healthy diets. Eating more and more plant-based food items, swapping to wholegrain, pulses, fruits, and vegetables throughout the day can help us reach our daily targets, as per expert health tips.
Those who are not currently eating a lot of fiber-rich food items should definitely look forward to increasing this food source gradually over a few weeks to keep any significant discomfort at a minimum.
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