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Boosting Your Dietary Fiber

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May 8, 2019

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about boosting your dietary fiber. Hello, I'm Amy Myers and welcome to Farm and Family. Today, we're speaking with Savannah Walker, Mississippi State University Dietetic Intern in Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion.

Savannah, can you tell me what exactly dietary fiber is?

Savannah Walker: Dietary fiber is a form of carbohydrate that cannot be completely broken down by human digestive enzymes. Fiber is found in plant foods including fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, beans, nuts, and seeds.

Amy Myers: So now that we know what fiber is, why do we need to boost our dietary fiber?

Savannah Walker: Most individuals do not meet the Institute of Medicine's adequate intake recommendations, and the 2010's Dietary Guideline for American identified dietary fiber as a nutrient of concern. The dietary reference intake of fiber for adult women is about 25 grams per day, and for adult men is 38 grams per day. So, on average, the U.S. daily dietary fiber intake was 16 grams per day, according to a USDA survey.

Amy Myers: Now, why is dietary fiber an important part of our diet and overall health?

Savannah Walker: Well, dietary fiber can affect our health in a number of ways. It provides bulk in the diet, which helps promote healthy gastrointestinal function, helps prevent constipation and diverticulosis and contributes to a feeling of fullness after eating. A high-fiber diet may also assist in weight management, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and also help improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. For example, soluble fibers found in beans, lentils, apples, and other sources, they absorb water from partially digested food and slow digestion, making you feel fuller longer and regulating blood sugar.

By adding soluble fiber to your diet, you can lower your LDL cholesterol and glucose levels. Insoluble fibers found in food, such as whole wheat bran and some whole grains, nuts, and legumes don't absorb water. By bulking up the stool, they help move food more efficiently through the body and promote regularity.

Amy Myers: Wow, I can now see just how important dietary fiber is and its benefits to our health. What are some examples of high-fiber foods and what are the way we can incorporate these high-fiber foods into our diet?

Savannah Walker: The dietary fiber density of the food can be increased by including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are fiber rich. Some foods high in fiber that you can incorporate into your diet are raspberries, black beans, pearl barley, avocados, chia seeds, chick peas, squash, pears, and apples with the skin. Moving towards eating a varied diet with lots of plants, you'll be on the right track to increase your dietary fiber intake.

One way that I like to incorporate fiber into my diet is by adding chia seeds and raspberries to my breakfast smoothie. Two tablespoons, which is about one ounce of chia seeds, have 11 grams of fiber, and one cup of raspberries has 8 grams of dietary fiber, and also just by being more conscious about reading the nutrition facts label on the back of a packaged product when going grocery shopping.

Amy Myers: That seems like a pretty simple way to make strides toward better health. Is there anything else that we should know in regard to boosting our fiber intake?

Savannah Walker: Yes, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, when increasing fiber, be sure to do it gradually and with plenty of fluid. As dietary fiber travels through the digestive tract, it is similar to a new sponge. It needs water to plump up and pass smoothly. If you consume more than your usual intake of fiber but not enough fluid, you may experience nausea or constipation.

Amy Myers:   So where can we find more information on how to boost our dietary fiber and sources of high-fiber-rich foods.

Savannah Walker: For more information, you can visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website at and search for dietary fiber, or you can go to the USDA website at

Amy Myers: Today, we've been speaking with Savannah Walker, Mississippi State University Dietetic Intern. I'm Amy Myers and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.


Department: Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion

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