Fiber is an essential nutrient for optimal health.
Found only in plant foods, eating enough fiber is associated with a lower risk of many chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, digestive disorders and obesity (
Surveys show that most people, especially in Western countries, only eat about half of their minimum recommended fiber intake, which is about 15 grams per day. It is estimated that only 5% of the US population meets their minimum daily fiber intake (
This article outlines some of the best sources of fiber you can eat, how much fiber to aim for, and whether fiber supplements are a good idea.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both are important to your health and behave in different ways in your digestive system.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and remains virtually intact as it passes through your digestive system. It is especially good for reducing constipation by bulking up stool and helping it move through your intestines (
The good news is that you can find both types of fiber in foods in varying amounts. In fact, the best way to meet your needs for both types of fiber is to simply include a wide variety of plant foods in your diet.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber helps reduce high cholesterol and manage blood sugar, while insoluble fiber helps relieve constipation. Both are important and can be found in plant foods.
Fiber is found naturally in whole plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. Animal products, such as meat, dairy, eggs, and seafood, do not add fiber to your diet.
Below is a chart that shows some of the best sources of fiber you can include in your diet.
The foods above are great sources of fiber. These are exclusively plant foods, since foods of animal origin such as meat or dairy products do not offer any fibre.
As you can see from the table above, the best sources of fiber are whole plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
There is more fiber in whole grain foods, such as whole wheat pasta and bread, than there are in the white and refined versions of these items. Plus, you get more fiber from eating whole fruits and vegetables than from drinking juices made from them.
Due to low population intakes and the fact that insufficient fiber intake is associated with poor health outcomes, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 identified fiber as a nutrient of health concern. public (
Many sources simplify this by recommending that every adult consume at least 30 grams of fiber per day, as this is approximately the average minimum requirement for adult men and women.
Keep in mind that 30 grams a day is a starting point, and eating moderately more than that is optimal. Plus, it’s easy to do when you add more plant foods to your diet.
However, consuming too much fiber too soon can cause symptoms such as bloating in some people. If you are not used to eating the minimum fiber, it is advisable to slowly increase your intake and drink more water to minimize symptoms (
The best sources of fiber are whole grains and other plants in their whole form, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes. Aim for at least 30 grams per day. If you’re not used to eating a lot of fiber, start small and gradually increase with plenty of fluids.
When people aren’t getting enough fiber and have symptoms like constipation, it’s common for medical professionals to recommend fiber supplements to get things moving.
Although supplements can be helpful in some short-term situations, it’s best not to rely on them to meet your daily fiber needs.
Instead, it’s a good idea to regularly prioritize whole dietary fiber sources.
Whole foods provide other healthy nutrients in addition to their fiber. For example, fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are important for your overall health, immune function, and disease prevention (
If you need to use a fiber supplement, look for one that doesn’t contain a long list of additional ingredients, artificial flavors and colors. Go for one that can be easily dosed, allowing you to start small and only gradually increase as needed.
You can also choose a supplement containing prebiotics. Prebiotics act as food for your healthy gut bacteria and promote overall health (
If you have trouble getting enough fiber in your diet, suffer from constipation, or aren’t sure if fiber supplements are a good option for you, it’s a good idea to talk to a healthcare professional or doctor. dietitian for personalized advice.
Whole plant foods should be your go-to source of fiber because they’re also high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Fiber supplements are sometimes used for short-term treatment of symptoms like constipation.
Fiber is an essential nutrient for health. Eating enough of it regularly has been shown to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases.
The only place fiber is found naturally is in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. These should be your main source of this nutrient.
You can also find fiber in supplement form. It may be useful for short-term situations like helping relieve constipation, but it shouldn’t work as your main source of fiber.
The recommended minimum daily amount of fiber is 25 grams for adult women and 38 grams for adult men. Aim for at least as much on a regular basis, and preferably more, for the most health benefits.