“Are you getting enough fiber?” Your physician has likely asked you this question if the reason for your doctor visit was related to your digestion or weight. Many times, patients have no idea how to answer that question because they cannot honestly say how much fiber they consume through diet alone. They also typically don’t realize the importance of fiber.
Types of Fiber
It’s difficult to know how much fiber you’re consuming without first knowing the types of fiber and where they’re found. Soluble fiber is most commonly found in oats, peas, nuts, beans, and fruits and vegetables such as bananas and tomatoes. Insoluble fiber is primarily found in vegetables such as beets and green beans, as well as in whole grains.
If you’re not getting enough of these foods, you may not be getting the minimum recommended 25 grams of fiber daily. The optimal amount of fiber women should consume daily is closer to 35 grams, and the optimal amount for men is about 48 grams. However, it’s important to gradually increase your fiber intake to avoid digestive upset.
Children should also consume a fiber-rich diet. Adding grains, fruit, or vegetables to every meal will help support a healthy digestive system and promote positive eating habits.
The Purpose and Benefits of Fiber
Both soluble and insoluble fiber provide essential health benefits, including:
- A feeling of fullness, which controls hunger
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Reduced risk of colon cancer
- Improved gut function and health
- Proper intestinal mobility
- Decreased risk of heart disease
Getting enough fiber in your daily diet helps your body function the way it should and helps maintain a healthy digestive system. If you need help determining how much fiber you should consume and what types of food to add to your diet, talk with your doctor.
Dr. Stephen Thomas is a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Spring Medical and Diagnostic Center. His clinical interests include lipidology and cardiometabolic syndrome. Dr. Thomas enjoys cycling and other fitness activities.