What Does Fiber Do to Your Body?


Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate. We recommend eating it for many reasons. It is also present in many foods. Read through this article to find out the recommended amounts and food sources of fiber. And know why you should eat them too!

Health Functions​

Fiber is an important type of carbohydrate. However, unlike most carbohydrates, fiber is not broken down into sugar molecules. Instead, it passes through the gastrointestinal tract without being digested. Soluble fiber refers to those that dissolve in water. It can help lower glucose and blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber is found in food like oatmeal, nuts, apples, blueberries, and beans. On the other hand, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. This helps food move through the digestive tract. Insoluble fiber is found in whole wheat pasta, bread flour, brown rice, legumes, and vegetables like carrots and cucumbers.

Disease Risk Reduction

Fiber does not only air out our bowel movements, it also helps us to prevent diseases. Eating enough fiber is associated with lower risk for coronary heart disease. There was also a lower incidence of diabetes when people eat more cereal fiber. Insoluble fiber is also associated with the decreased risk for diverticular disease. The risk for breast cancer and constipation is also reduced.

Groups at Risk

Everyone is at risk of not consuming adequate fiber. This is because most individuals in the United States do not have enough fiber intake. We recommend those with irregular bowel movements (IBS) or at risk of heart disease to eat more fiber. Individuals with diabetes or certain gastrointestinal diseases may also need more fiber than others.

Intake Recommendations

Adult women are recommended to eat 25 grams of fiber per day. Meanwhile, men should eat about 38 grams per day. However, the average intake of fiber in the United States is 15 grams per day. In fact, more than 90% of Americans do not eat enough fiber every day! 

Did you know that one of the many health benefits of dates is its fiber content? Dates contain mostly soluble fiber. This makes them a good addition to your diet! It can help promote bowel regularity and ease constipation. Dates are considered high in fiber. One serving size (¼ cup or about 5-6 dates) contains over 5 grams of fiber. Its fiber content may vary depending on its kind. Adding one serving of dates to your daily diet can help boost your fiber intake! It can also provide other nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, copper, and manganese. 

Most Americans do not eat enough fiber, so it is important to try eating a high-fiber diet. Including these foods in your regular diet can help you keep your digestive tract functioning well. It can even reduce the risk for disease!

Oatmeal

One cup of prepared oats (½ cup dry oatmeal) contains 8 grams of fiber. Oats make an easy and quick breakfast! You can enjoy them hot or cold, and sweet or savory.

Popcorn

Air-popped popcorn contains 14 grams of fiber per 100 grams! We recommend limiting the salt, butter, and other toppings. This will keep your snack low in sodium and saturated fat.

Dates

As discussed, dates are a good source of fiber. A ¼ cup serving of dates contains 6-8 grams of fiber. You can enjoy them plain or baked. Add them into your energy bars or whole wheat bread!!

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are one of the most concentrated sources of fiber. A tablespoon and a half of chia seeds (the recommended serving size) contains 10 grams of fiber. Enjoy your chia seeds in a number of ways! We recommend mixing them into jams and chia pudding, or adding them to homemade granola bars.

Almonds

Almonds are one of the most popular nuts. It also contains 7 grams of fiber per ½ cup serving. They taste good in both sweet and savory dishes.

Lentils

Lentils are an affordable and very versatile type of legume. Did you know that it has almost 14 grams of fiber per cup? They’re also a great source of plant-based protein! We recommend adding them in your soups, curries, and chili.

Raspberries

Raspberries are a very high-fiber fruit, with 10 grams of fiber per cup. They can be enjoyed plain or in cereals and oatmeal! You can also bake them into desserts or add them to chia pudding for extra fiber.

Conclusion

Fiber is a very important type of carbohydrate. However, most Americans do not eat enough of it. Adding more high-fiber foods to your diet can help promote regular bowel movements. It can also help protect against a number of different diseases. If you want to try adding more fiber to your diet, we recommend starting slowly, like adding one or two more high fiber foods to your diet each day. Be sure to also drink plenty of water! This will improve your life in the long run.

Written by:

Allison Tallman, MS, RDN, CNSC

Registered Dietitian

Reviewed by:
Registered Dietitian
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