You are here

How to Get More Fiber in Your Diet

Filed Under:
September 18, 2019

Amy Meyers: Hello, I'm Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm and Family. Today, we're speaking with Kentauria Henley, a dietetic Intern here at Mississippi State University. The topic Kentauria will be discussing is Ways to Get More Fiber. Too often we hear Fiber is important. Can you start us off by explaining what Fiber is?

Kentauria Henley: Of course. Fiber is a type of food that is needed for health purposes.   It can be found in all foods that come from plants. There are two types of Fiber and they both play major roles in maintaining health. Soluble fiber forms a sticky gel and is fermented by bacteria of the large intestine. Insoluble fiber does not form this sticky gel and is a little more difficult to ferment in the large intestine.

Amy Meyers: I’m curious to know more about the different types of fiber, what are their roles in health?

Kentauria Henley: We’ll start with soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps slow the movement of food along the GI tract and lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels, ultimately reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and improving heart health. Insoluble fiber improves constipation and promote bowel movement, by retaining water.

Amy Meyers: Can you tell us which foods are high in Fiber.

Kentauria Henley: Certainly. Being that Fiber is naturally a part of all plants, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, peas, beans, lentils, and nuts are all good sources of Fiber. Soluble fiber includes beans, strawberries, blueberries, nuts and seeds and many vegetables. Insoluble Fiber is found in whole-wheat and wholegrain products, vegetables, almonds, and lentils.

Amy Meyers: Usually there are recommendations for intake of certain nutrients, are there any recommendations for Fiber intake?

Kentauria Henley: Yes. Fiber recommendations range from 25-38 grams per day. Women should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day, while men should aim for 30 grams per day. Women who are over the age of 50 should aim for 21 g of fiber per day and men who are over the age of 50 should aim for 30 grams of fiber per day.

Amy Meyers: Are Americans meeting recommendations for Fiber?

Kentauria Henley: Maybe some, but the typical American consumes a lot less fiber than recommended.

Amy Meyers: Interesting. Let’s say you’re someone who doesn’t have problems with cholesterol levels, and you don’t have blood glucose related problems, what benefit would I get from Fiber?

Kentauria Henley: Good question. Anyone can benefit from fiber. Let’s think about the American diet for a second. A typical American diet is usually high in processed foods, fatty foods, and sugary foods and beverages. Considering how often we eat, how much we eat at a time, the foods that we typically eat, and how physically inactive we are, we’re already at risk for increased weight gain. With weight gain comes weight related problems that can be prevented by simply consuming more fiber rich foods. Our bodies also require upkeep. So, fiber also helps enhance health of the large intestine, or colon, and reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Amy Meyers: What about supplements? Do you recommend using Fiber supplements to increase fiber intake?

Kentauria Henley: I would not advise nor encourage anyone to replace fiber rich foods with fiber supplements. You would not get that same effects from the fiber supplement as you would with the fiber rich foods in terms of fullness, the slowing down of digestion and reducing blood cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Also, fiber rich foods have a lot more nutrients to offer than just fiber alone.

Amy Meyers: I don’t usually count calories or grams of anything. Are there any ways to determine how much fiber I’m getting from a certain food?

Kentauria Henley: Yes. There are many great sources online, but if I had to recommend an online source, it would be the 2015-2020 Dietary guidelines.

Amy Meyers:  I feel like I get enough fiber, but I’m not sure. Are there any tips you could possibly give to those of us who don’t get enough fiber or for those of us who are uncertain whether we get enough fiber?

Kentauria Henley: Of Course. Replacing some of those processed foods, such as white rice, bread, and pasta, with whole grains products could be a start. If you’re one of those people who can give up the white flavored rice, like myself, then try adding beans or lentils to increase fiber intake. smoothies are also a good way to get more fiber, especially if you’re one of those people who prefer to drink your fiber. Consuming more fruit and veggies with the peel also helps boost fiber content. Another good way to increase your fiber intake would be replacing fruit juice with an actual fruit. Lastly, don’t be afraid to add more fruit and veggies to your salads. Beans nuts, and seeds may also be a good addition.

Amy Meyers: It has been a pleasure speaking with you on today

Kentauria Henley: Thanks for having me!

Amy Meyers:  I’ve learned a lot hopefully our audience has as well. Today, we've been speaking with dietetic intern, Kentauria Henley. Thank you for joining us. I'm Amy Myers, and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Department: Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion

Select Your County Office