Monday, January 9, 2012

All About Fiber

Fiber is important in a balanced diet because it helps keep us “regular”, may help prevent certain diseases (Diabetes, Heart, Cancer), and can aid in weight management by keeping us full longer.  For individuals with gastrointestinal issues (Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Colitis, Diverticulitis), fiber can help prevent flare-ups and control undesirable symptoms. 

Adults need a lot more fiber a day than most are getting.  Here are some guidelines:
  • Men, 50 years old and younger= 38 g/day
  • Men, 51 years old and older=30 g/day
  • Women, 50 years old and younger= 25 g/day
  • Women, 50 years old and older= 21 g/day
The general rule for children aged 3-18 years old is to add “5” to their age in years. For example, a 5 year old needs 10 g/day of fiber.

It’s essential to drink plenty of non-caloric fluids with a high fiber diet or else you may become constipated.  It’s also recommended to spread the fiber throughout the day or else you will feel uncomfortably full.  Once during my freshman year in college (before I knew any better), I ate a whole box of sun-dried tomato tortellini that contained a ridiculous amount of fiber and I literally couldn’t move for an hour.  I wouldn’t recommend doing that.

If you’re already taking in the recommended amount of daily fiber, awesome and keep up the good work!  If you aren’t but want to, start slowly or you will feel cramped and bloated.  Also, diversify your fiber sources by eating a variety of whole grains like oats, whole wheat bread, bran cereals, and some nutrition bars.

Here are some tips for increasing fiber in your diet:
  • Choose cereals with at least 5 g fiber/serving
  • Peels are high in fiber so wash your produce well and eat the peels (only the edible ones!)
  • Limit refined flours and grains- opt for brown rice and whole grains
  • Green leafy veggies are high in fiber like spinach, kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts (my favorite!)
  • Incorporate beans and lentils into 2-3 meals/week.  They’re high in fiber and a good source a protein. Check out my lentil soup recipe!
  • Fruits that are higher in fiber include plums, apricots, blueberries, apples, and raisins

Stay tuned for a giveaway later this week featuring a high fiber nutrition bar!
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