Life Changing Tips for Increasing Fiber in Your Diet
It’s easier than you think.
What comes to mind when you think about fiber? If you’re like most people, you probably think about digestive health and having regular bowel movements. It’s true that fiber helps with digestion, but a high-fiber diet also helps you maintain a healthy weight, lowers cholesterol, regulates blood-sugar levels, reduces your risk of heart disease and cancer, and may help fight depression.
Are you getting enough fiber?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends women consume 25 grams of fiber each day. Unfortunately, most women don’t hit that target so here are some ways you can make a change for the better.
Table of Contents
Let’s start with the basics: what is fiber?
Fiber is a plant-based nutrient that our bodies cannot digest. It is naturally found in many fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, grains, and seeds.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and slows down carbohydrate digestion, which can make you feel full longer and stabilize blood-sugar levels. Soluble fiber is found in foods like bananas, apples, pears, beans, potatoes, and oats.
Insoluble fiber is also called “roughage.” It retains water and helps to move food through the digestive system which assists with bowel movements. Insoluble fiber is found in foods like berries, nuts, carrots, and whole grains.
Why is fiber important?
High-fiber diets can:
- Regulate bowel movements and help with digestion
- Assist with weight management
- Regulate blood sugar
- Improve heart health
- Help you live longer
Bowel Movements and Digestion
Fiber helps relieve constipation by softening stool so that it is easier to pass. Having regular bowel movements can lower the risk of developing hemorrhoids or other gastrointestinal conditions.
High-fiber foods take longer to digest than low-fiber foods, so you feel full longer.
Because high-fiber foods digest more slowly, they slow the absorption of sugar in the blood to help maintain healthy blood-sugar levels.
Fiber can help lower cholesterol which reduces the risk of heart disease. It also can lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation which are important for cardiovascular health.
The cardiovascular and digestive benefits associated with a high-fiber diet can help you live a longer life by reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Fiber may lower the incidence of depression in pre- and perimenopausal women.
A recent study published in Menopause, The Journal of the North American Menopause Society, found that increasing fiber intake is correlated with lower rates of depression as women approach menopause. Fiber supports gut microbiota which strengthen brain health and may help protect against depression symptoms.
Researchers found that pre- and perimenopausal women who consume 21 grams of fiber daily were 41 percent less likely to experience depression.
4 Tips for Increasing Fiber Intake
- Start slowly. Gradually increase the amount of fiber each day. Adding too much fiber too quickly can cause bloating and cramping.
- Drink plenty of water. Fiber needs water to do its job, so be sure to drink at least 64 ounces each day.
- Choose more whole grains, fruits, and raw vegetables. Many anti-inflammatory foods are great sources of fiber.
- Consider a fiber supplement. If you need help reaching the recommended 25 grams of fiber each day, a fiber supplement can bridge the gap. Fiber GDX is made from high-quality ingredients and provides more than 25 percent of your daily fiber needs.
Get Your Daily 25
Track Your Fiber Intake
If you want a simple way to track your fiber intake, consider using the Cronometer app (my favorite). Once you enroll, if you haven’t already, head to the Settings section > Targets > Nutrient Targets > Carbohydrates and Fiber is the 2nd option down. Switch to Custom and enter 25.0 as your Daily Target. When you go back to your Diary and swipe the options at the top – you will be able to watch your Fiber intake as the day goes by. Try it for a week; what do you have to lose!
Track your nutrition for better results with the Cronometer App.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Increased Fiber Associated With Less Depression in Premenopausal Women (pcrm.org)