When considering how much fiber per day do I need, it’s important to understand what it is, where it comes from, the dangers associated with too little fiber, and the benefits of having it in the diet. Fiber intake is something that you might think comes naturally, but most Americans are fiber-deficient on a daily basis. Most people consume only up to 15 grams of fiber per day, but the recommended daily allowance is 21 grams for women over 50.
What is Fiber?
Fiber comes from plants, and it’s the part of plant foods that the body isn’t able to easily digest. It passes through your intestines, providing benefits along the way. There are two main types to be aware of: insoluble and soluble.
Insoluble fiber doesn’t absorb water or dissolve in water; it passes straight through the digestive system. It provides many benefits, such as a reduction in the risk of hemorrhoids and/or constipation.
Soluble fiber absorbs water; in the intestines, it swells and forms a gelatinous substance. The many benefits include better weight loss, lowered cholesterol, and moderation of glucose levels in the blood.
What Are Good Sources of Dietary Fiber?
If you’re looking for natural ways to supplement your daily fiber intake, you don’t have to look far. Some of the best sources are:
- nuts and seeds
- unpeeled apples
- brown rice
There are many more foods that contain high amounts of fiber for your diet. The best thing you can do is to ensure that you eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains each day since this is where you’ll get the most bang for your buck.
What are the Benefits?
Study after study has proven the correlation between fiber intake and improved health. In a study published in The Lancet, researchers showed that there is a 15%-30% decrease in non-communicable diseases in people who have between 25% and 29% grams of fiber each day.
At the University of Illinois, dietary fiber was proven to reduce brain inflammation during aging. Brain inflammation has been shown to be linked with cognitive decline, so this is an important benefit for women in their prime.
Researchers in Germany reported how the combination of dietary fiber and gut bacteria helps support the cardiovascular system. This indicates that fiber is an important component of healthy heart functioning.
As reported in the medical journal Journey, laboratory mice given high amounts of fiber on a daily basis had intensified immune responses against the flu virus.
In a Harvard study conducted with female nurse participants, fiber intake reduced their risk of heart disease.
Correlation Between Low Fiber Intake and Colon Cancer
The American Institute for Cancer Research reports that whole grains, which are a rich source of fiber, greatly reduce the risk of colon cancer. Estimates are a whopping 47% of the incidents of colon cancer in the U.S. alone could be prevented with lifestyle changes that include more fiber intake. Colon cancer is much more prevalent in Western Nations, where the population eats more processed food.
In a study conducted where Americans ate an African-style diet with abundant fiber for just two weeks, Americans had fewer biomarkers for colon cancer.
Finally, there is abundant evidence that a high-fiber diet is associated with colon health. For instance, a study published by the University of Michigan Health System reports that eating a diet rich in fiber helps protect the lining of the colon and helps prevent infection. When the body doesn’t get enough, microbes in the gut feed on the colon’s lining. Ingesting fiber in the form of food or supplements resolves this issue.
What are the Best Fiber Supplements?
If you find it hard to get enough daily fiber in your diet alone, you might try a supplement in order to meet the minimum daily requirement. Ultimately, the best supplements are the ones that work best with your body. You have a lot of choices when it comes to supplements – just be aware that some brands have added ingredients. Sometimes, these additives enhance flavor; other times, they are added for extra benefits, such as for antioxidants.
Make sure you read the labels on any supplement you decide to take. And, if it doesn’t work the way you anticipated, don’t hesitate to switch brands. There can be a lot of differences between one brand and the next. Ultimately, you are better off finding natural ways to add more fiber, like ingesting flax or chia seeds daily.
Is There Such a Thing as Too Much?
While it’s important to be aware of how much fiber per day to ingest, there is such a thing as taking in too much fiber. An excess of fiber can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, constipation, and gas. More seriously, excess fiber can inhibit the absorption of important nutrients like iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium. Continued excess could eventually lead to a blockage in the intestines. Since it’s challenging to get enough each day, taking in too much is rare. However, it is good to be aware that, as with all other things, moderation is key for fiber intake.
If you’ve been wondering how much fiber per day should you have, now you have the information you need to ensure you meet the minimum requirements of 22 grams for women over 50 years of age. For the most part, you can get it from a diet plentiful in fresh fruits and vegetables. You can then supplement with commercial brands when needed. Just be sure you strike a healthy balance between too little and too much.