High fiber foods should have a place in your diet. Eating a diet rich in fiber can protect your colon, aid weight loss, keep you regular, and assist in managing blood sugar. It’s also vital for maintaining a healthy gut, which promotes your immune system too. However, most people consume less than 17 g of fiber per day.
Consuming fibrous foods doesn’t have to be a chore. It also doesn’t need to be bland, tasteless, or akin to munching on tree bark. Chances are you’re already consuming close to your recommended daily allowance with the healthy foods on your plate.
What is Dietary Fiber?
Technically fiber is a carbohydrate. Unlike the carbs you burn for fuel, you can’t actually digest dietary fiber. This is why low carb lifestyles don’t count those carbs. Fiber doesn’t spike your blood sugar because your body can’t break it down.
Sounds good, right?
Well, it is good for you. That fiber pushes through your digestive tract either fast or slow, depending on the type you eat. It keeps you fuller longer and can curb overeating.
It makes it easier to move your bowels, and it’s nature’s cure all for constipation too. Most importantly, science connects fiber consumption to a reduced risk for various medical conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and diverticular disease.
Do You Need More Fiber?
Your doctor can’t provide a magical test to learn your fiber levels. You can use symptoms as a guide, but they’re not always accurate. The best approach is keeping and maintaining a food and poop diary.
Take note of every type of food you’re eating and its serving size. You can use online directories to look up the nutritional information. Write down your bowel movements and note changes and its consistency.
Once you have your numbers, you simply add them up. Do this for at least two weeks, then develop your average number by adding the totals from each day and dividing it by 14.
We’ve provided the recommended daily values, so all that’s left is for you to compare your averaged number to your bracket. If you hit your mark, great! You’re on the right track. If not, don’t despair and keep reading to learn which high fiber foods you should be eating.
Your poop diary can assist your doctor in diagnosing constipation or show that end of your digestive system is in working order.
Reasons to Add More High Fiber Foods
Types of Fiber
Your body needs both types below to maintain a healthy gut and digestive track. Try to find a balance between the two, but if you become constipated, eating more insoluble fiber can help move your bowels back on track.
Insoluble fiber means the fiber doesn’t dissolve in water. It will make your stools bulkier; they’ll also pass faster because of it. You’ll discover foods to eat in this category are mostly whole hearty grains, seeds, and vegetables.
This fancy term simply means the fiber will dissolve in water. Soluble fiber becomes thick and moves slower through your body. To feel fuller longer and consume less, you should incorporate it into your meals. High fiber foods for this type will mostly be beans and fruits with some whole grains and vegetables.
While you won’t find fermentable fiber on a label, it gives you more benefit gram for gram. Bacteria in your digestive tract ferment the fiber and turn it into food for the colonies of good bacteria in your colon. Researchers believe this can offer you a layer of protection against colon cancer. Fiber foods that ferment are onions, bananas, leeks, artichokes, barley, and oats.
Who Needs Fiber and How Much?
Age and sex plays a vital role in the amount of fiber your body requires to function well. Men need more than women do, and children and teens require less.
Recommended Fiber Intake
• Men under 50—38 grams per day
• Women under 50—25 grams per day
• Men over 50—30 grams per day
• Women over 50—21 grams per day
• Children—19 grams and up, depending on sex and age bracket
Should You Supplement?
Some people prefer to take a fiber supplement, but unless you have allergies, intolerance, or you require a special diet, you should try to consume your daily requirement through your food choices. You’re likely to find foods on our list that you enjoy and can tolerate. However, using a supplement is better than not meeting your fiber needs.
Side Effects of Fiber
You can have too much of a good thing when it comes to fiber. If you find you’re not eating enough fiber, you should gradually add sources. This gives your stomach and digestive tract time to react to the changes and greatly reduces symptoms associated with high fiber diets.
• Stomach pain
• Weight gain (temporary)
For diabetics, you should carefully monitor your blood sugar since it can drop dangerously low. Everyone should be sure to drink plenty of water; it’s equally important to your digestive system and keeps things moving along.
Some people should avoid high fiber diets. If you’ve recently undergone radiation, have inflammatory disease, previously had bowel or stomach surgery, or you have a tumor in your bowels, you should speak with your doctor before adding additional fiber to your existing diet.
Anyone with celiac disease or intolerance to certain high fiber foods should avoid those. However, they can find safe alternatives to add more soluble or insoluble fiber to their diets.
Ways to Add More Fiber to Your Existing Diet
• Choose whole fruit over juice and juice blends. Eating a piece of whole fruit is a great way to sneak in a few grams or more of dietary fiber.
• Add beans to dishes when you can. They go well with soups and stir-fry dishes, but switching out a traditional sandwich spread with a serving of hummus can provide a decent amount of fiber.
• Swap out chips and crackers for fresh vegetable chips. You can also purchase high fiber varieties, but making the switch saves calories and fat too.
• Air-popped popcorn is an excellent low calorie high fiber snack. Just skip the microwave kind to avoid additives and sodium.
• Consider meatless meals where beans and vegetables are the main course. You can even swap out your meat for beans in many recipes, like tacos. However, use soy-based meat replacements sparingly and read the labels for their fiber count.
• Read your labels. Look for whole grains over processed flours in the list of your prepackaged goods.
• Consider swapping to whole grain varieties of pasta, crackers, and bread. Make your own if possible.
• Start your day with a fiber rich cereal or bowl of oatmeal and sliced fresh fruit.
21 Best High Fiber Foods to Eat
A bonus for you? Our tasty list lends well to most diets and lifestyles. Try to add 5 grams of fiber to your diet at a time and work toward your goal. This will give your stomach and digestive system time to adjust and ease symptoms if present.
1. Asian Pears—9.9 per serving
2. Black Beans—15 g per serving
3. Lima Beans—13.2 per serving
4. Avocado—10 g per serving
5. Chickpeas—12.5 g per serving
6. Raspberries—8 g per serving
7. Lentils—15.6 g per serving