Fiber is a dietary substance, such as pectin and cellulose, that is the indigestible part of plants, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. It is a vital component for moving food efficiently through the body and to maintain a well-balanced diet. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a high-fiber diet can help prevent obesity, digestive conditions like constipation and hemorrhoids, heart disease, and diabetes.
According to the US National Academy of Sciences, Food and Nutrition Board, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of fiber for male children and adults is between 30-38 grams/day, and it is between 21-25 grams/day for female children and adults. Different age groups have different fiber requirement quantities. There are two types of fiber, which are called soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, and both forms of fiber are significant and necessary to form a complete and wholesome diet.
The body obtains dietary fiber from plant and plant products that are incorporated into one’s diet. Thus, including a variety of such fiber rich foods can ensure that the daily recommended fiber levels are achieved. A few tips for consuming more high fiber foods and increasing fiber intake include:
- Having whole grain cereals and fruits (like apples) every day with one’s breakfast
- Consider eating yogurt or cereal once or twice a week
- Incorporate plenty of whole grain products into one’s daily and regular diet
- Use whole wheat bread for sandwichs with tomatoes, spinach leaves, and cucumbers
- Purchase food products that have the following ingredients: Oats, whole-grain barley/wheat/corn, or brown rice
- Avoid refined grains to the extent possible and switch to whole grains
- Ensure from the food nutrition label that the product does contain higher amounts of fiber in them
- Avoid canned, refined, or processed plant foods; instead try to consume fresh fruits, vegetables, peas, and beans
- Keep the peel on while serving raw (or cooked) fruits and vegetables
- Have fiber-rich snacks, such as fresh and raw fruits, whole-grain crackers, etc.
The American Dietetic Association mentions the following tips for increasing dietary fiber intake in children, since they may not enjoy foods with fiber like adults normally do. These include:
- Adding dried fruits to cereals, baked items, and fruit salad
- Dipping fruits in chocolate or yogurt and then serving them with whole-grain cereal that the child likes or enjoys
- Add chopped celery, carrots, and green peppers to tuna, chicken, and other salads
- Using unpeeled potato to prepare potato-snack items that the children like such as French fries and hash browns
- Add beans (kidney, garbanzo, lima, black, or baked) to soups and salads
- Mixing white and brown rice
- Using whole grain flour for baking
- Topping ice creams and frozen yogurt with nuts, dried fruits, or whole-grain cereals
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http://www.rd.com/health/healthy-eating/increase-dietary-fiber/ (accessed on 12/29/2014)
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Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:
Anderson, J. W., Baird, P., Davis, R. H., Ferreri, S., Knudtson, M., Koraym, A., ... & Williams, C. L. (2009). Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition reviews, 67(4), 188-205.
Jenkins, D. J., Kendall, C. W., Vuksan, V., Vidgen, E., Parker, T., Faulkner, D., ... & Ryan, M. A. (2002). Soluble fiber intake at a dose approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for a claim of health benefits: serum lipid risk factors for cardiovascular disease assessed in a randomized controlled crossover trial. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 75(5), 834-839.
Slavin, J. (2013). Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits.Nutrients, 5(4), 1417-1435.
Kaczmarczyk, M. M., Miller, M. J., & Freund, G. G. (2012). The health benefits of dietary fiber: beyond the usual suspects of type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and colon cancer. Metabolism, 61(8), 1058-1066.
Brownawell, A. M., Caers, W., Gibson, G. R., Kendall, C. W., Lewis, K. D., Ringel, Y., & Slavin, J. L. (2012). Prebiotics and the health benefits of fiber: current regulatory status, future research, and goals. The Journal of nutrition,142(5), 962-974.
Van Duyn, M. A. S., & Pivonka, E. (2000). Overview of the health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption for the dietetics professional: selected literature. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 100(12), 1511-1521.