How much fiber is in your diet?

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Adults require 21 to 38 grams of fiber per day. (Most of us don’t get enough.)

When planning your meals, you probably think about a protein, a vegetable and maybe starch. But are you including enough fiber-rich options? The answer may surprise you.

If fiber is lacking in your diet, not to worry. Adding more is easy.

What is fiber?

Fibre is a carbohydrate found in fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts.

Fiber plays a significant role in health and wellness. It prevents heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and diverticulitis.

Benefits of eating fiber

Adding more fiber to your diet can:

Getting more fiber will keep you regular. Just be sure to add it gradually so your digestive system has time to adjust. Adding too much fiber too fast can cause diarrhea.

Aid in weight loss: Eating more fiber helps you feel full longer. That means a fiber-packed breakfast — think oatmeal, whole-grain cereal or fresh fruit — may keep you full until lunchtime, so you snack less.

Control blood sugar: Fiber slows the absorption of sugar, which lowers your risk of diabetes.

Lower cholesterol : Fiber can help reduce cholesterol levels, too. Cholesterol binds to fiber and travels through the digestive system, where it leaves the body rather than enter the bloodstream.

How to get more fiber

What’s even better: you don’t have to eat hay to get your fiber. By making a few small changes to your diet, you can increase your intake while still enjoying your meals. Here are a few easy ways to get more fiber:

Plan your morning meal: Choose a high-fiber option like bran flakes or oatmeal for the first meal of the day. Looking for something heartier? Try scrambled eggs with spinach and a piece of fruit.

Switch to whole grains: Swap out processed white bread with whole-grain bread. Look for labels that list whole wheat flour or whole grain as the first ingredient. And check that they have at least 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Side dishes of brown rice, quinoa or whole wheat pasta are another great fiber boost.

Stick to whole foods: Although frozen meals and processed options may be quick and easy, they often fall short on essential nutrients, like fiber. Typically, the more refined or processed a food is, the lower its fiber content. Replacing canned or packaged foods or desserts with fresh, homemade options lets you raise your fiber quota.

Pick more produce: Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables are a good source of fiber, so add them to meals and snacks throughout the day. Not sure where to start? Consider adding these high-fiber accompaniments to your plate:

  • Leafy greens like spinach or kale
  • Cauliflower
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Oranges

Boost the fiber content of your meals with legumes. Peas, beans or lentils can dress up a soup or salad.

Snack smart: When a hunger pang hits, it may be tempting to hit the kitchen for a treat. Instead of reaching for the junk food, consider noshing on these fiber-filled snacks.

Add a fiber supplement: Having trouble getting enough fiber in your diet? A fiber supplement can help. You can find them at most stores and online.

Another tip — Don’t forget the H2O. While water itself doesn’t contain fiber, it acts as a sort of “assistant” to it. “Fiber works best when it absorbs water.”

If you want to be sure your diet contains enough fiber, talk to your healthcare provider, who can help you design a diet plan that provides you with the nutrition you need.

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