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How Much Fiber Per Day Should You Consume?
By Ethan Boldt
October 28, 2023
Eat your veggies. Get your vitamins and minerals. Make sure you have enough protein. These are common nutritional mantras that most of us naturally follow.
But “get enough fiber”? It’s not said that often and certainly isn’t followed. In fact, an estimated 95 percent of American adults and children do not consume their recommended amounts of fiber.
Time for you to help change this narrative. Do you know how much fiber per day you should consume and if you actually get enough? What foods are high in fiber?
Keep reading for the complete list of foods high in fiber, plus some easy ways to get more fiber into your daily diet.
As always, you should consult your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen.
Fiber, also referred to as dietary fiber or “roughage,” is a plant nutrient that is essential to good health. Along with adequate fluid intakes, fiber is responsible for moving foods through the digestive tract in a timely fashion, helping it function optimally. Fiber works by drawing fluids from the body to add bulk to the stool.
Remember, your body actually does not digest fiber. Instead of fiber being broken down and absorbed, it stays intact as it travels through and out of your body. This plant-based nutrient helps bulk up stools, which is key to digestive health.
There are two main types of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber. What’s the difference between the two types? Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a thick gel-like substance inside of the body while insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and adds bulk to the stool as it passes through the digestive tract.
When increasing dietary fiber, it is essential to start slowly and increase gradually. If you add too much fiber too soon, your digestive system won’t be ready for it.
Fiber functions to help regulate bowel functions, maintain overall healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and promote the health of the colon walls.
So how much fiber per day is recommended?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends the following for how much fiber to eat per day:
25 grams per day for adult women 50 years old or younger
38 grams per day for adult men 50 years old or younger
28 grams per day for pregnant or lactating women
21 grams per day for adult women over 50 years of age
30 grams per day for adult men over 50 years of age
As you can see, how much fiber per day for a man is a higher recommendation compared to how much fiber per day for a woman. Fiber recommendations also decrease after the age of 50. These amounts are not difficult to obtain in a healthy diet if you regularly consume high-fiber foods.
How much fiber per day is too much? Around 70 grams of fiber is considered excessive. If you take in that level or more, you may experience some unwanted side effects such as temporary bloating, gas and stomach discomfort.
Promotes digestive health and regular bowel movements — and reduces the likelihood of occasional constipation
Promotes the health of the colon and surrounding digestive areas
Helps to support the normal process of removing waste and toxins from the colon
Supports a healthy gut microbiome, with a balanced and diverse gut microbiota
Helps support normal, healthy blood sugar levels
Supports heart health by supporting healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels
Encourages healthy weight management by creating satiety and reducing calorie absorption
Soluble fiber creates a gel in the system by binding with fatty acids. Some studies show that it prolongs stomach emptying to allow for better absorption of nutrients. Because it does ferment in the stomach and thus lead to occasional bloating and gas, increase these foods gradually and drink plenty of water.
Examples of foods that contain soluble fiber include:
whole grains like oats and barley
legumes (beans, lentils and peas)
dried figs, prunes, apricots and dates
fruits like pears, apples and bananas
Insoluble fiber’s job is to provide bulk in the intestines and carry toxins out of the system while helping balance the pH levels in the intestines. It doesn’t dissolve in water and doesn’t ferment with bacteria in the colon.
Insoluble fiber is found in:
nuts and seeds
legumes (beans, lentils and peas)
whole grains like brown rice and Ezekiel bread
green vegetables like broccoli and dark leafy greens
cabbage and celery
bran (wheat bran, oat bran)
Ideally you’ll get the fiber you need from eating a diet filled with a variety of unprocessed plant foods. In some cases, a soluble fiber supplement can be a good addition to your diet, such as to avoid occasional constipation.
One of the most popular soluble fiber supplements is psyllium husk, which can be combined with water and taken by mouth. It’s best to start with a low dose of a fiber supplement and increase gradually as needed based on your reaction.
Popular fiber supplement and product ingredients: