You know fiber is good for you and you should get more of it, but do you know why? For starters, studies have shown that a diet high in fiber can improve heart health, reduce the risk of cancer, relieve gastrointestinal issues, and improve the appearance of your skin.
Foods high in fiber also feed your beneficial gut bacteria, which helps prevent harmful inflammation in your body that can lead to disease, says Joanne Slavin, Ph.D., RDN, professor of food science and nutrition at the ‘University of Minnesota. “And fiber helps support your immune system.”
But here’s the problem: You need to consistently get enough of it in your diet to get the most benefit. Most people get about 15 grams of fiber per day, but you should be getting 28 grams of it, Slavin says. (By the way, this formula will help you determine how much fiber you personally need.)
So how do you do this? Start by gradually adding high-fiber foods to your plate. The key word here is gradually: if you switch from a low-fiber diet to a high-fiber diet too quickly, you’re more likely to experience bloating and stomach pain. You should also spread your fiber intake throughout the day, as your stomach can only use a limited amount of fiber at a time, and adding too much to a single meal can lead to digestive upset and pain. That’s why Alexandra Miller, RDN, corporate dietitian at Medifast, suggests aiming for at least five to seven grams per meal and three to five grams per snack.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider these new ways to add high-fiber foods to your plate.