How much fiber do you need each day? The Institute of Medicine, which provides science-based advice on matters of medicine and health, gives the following daily recommendations for adults:
Age 50 or younger Men 38 grams & Women 25 grams
Age 51 or older Men 30 grams & 21 grams
Mayo Institute of Medicine, 2012
Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes all parts of plant foods that your body can't digest or absorb. Unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates — which your body breaks down and absorbs — fiber isn't digested by your body. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, colon and out of your body.
Fiber is commonly classified as soluble (it dissolves in water) or insoluble (it doesn't dissolve):
- Soluble fiber. This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium. Psyllium Husk fiber is a great way to get that need fiber into your system.
- Insoluble fiber. This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes, are good sources of insoluble fiber. Most plant-based foods, such as oatmeal and beans, contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. However, the amount of each type varies in different plant foods. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of high-fiber foods.
The Benefits of a high fiber diet include:
- Normalizes bowel movements.
Soften and bulks stool so it is easier to pass.
- Helps maintain bowel health.
Help in preventing constipation and diverticulitis. May prevent cancer and other diseases of the colon.
- Lowers cholesterol levels.
Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol levels. Studies also have shown that fiber may have other heart-health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
- Helps control blood sugar levels.
Particularly soluble fiber — can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. A healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and will help type 2 diabetics with their blood sugar levels.
- Aids in achieving healthy weight
Although large weightloss will be acheived with just eating a high fiber diet. High-fiber foods generally require more chewing time, which gives your body time to register when you're no longer hungry, so you're less likely to overeat. Also, a high-fiber diet tends to make a meal feel larger and linger longer, so you stay full for a greater amount of time. And high-fiber diets also tend to be less "energy dense," which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.