Lonestar Gastroenterology

When to Eat More (or Less) Dietary Fiber

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When to Eat More (or Less) Dietary Fiber

Our diets are key to staying healthy, and fiber plays an important role in it, but like anything there’s a limit to how much you should have. Read on to learn how much fiber to have and when you should eat it.

In order to perform our everyday tasks, keep our bodies functioning properly, and prevent various diseases, what we eat is very important. Healthy food helps to fuel our cells and give us energy, helps to control blood pressure, keeps the digestive system running as it should, and prevents conditions like heart disease and diabetes. A healthy diet is one that combines several types of food in balance to provide the most nutritional value.

Fiber is one of many foods your body needs to provide nutrients and to aid in digestion. But you should be mindful to eat the amount your body needs to get the most out of this food, so let’s explore the benefits of this food in your diet, how much you should eat, and when.

If you live in the Austin, Texas area and you’re struggling with dietary problems affecting your digestive system, Dr. Rajesh Mehta and his skilled medical team at LoneStar Gastroenterology can help you find relief.

The benefits of fiber in your diet

Fiber in food refers to the indigestible part of the plants we eat and is also known as roughage, and despite its seemingly contradictory nature (being indigestible and going through your digestive tract) it serves a rather important purpose. Fiber comes in two forms, soluble, and insoluble, and both types play a role in digestive health. 

Soluble fiber is the type that absorbs water that forms a substance in your body that is helpful in maintaining blood sugar levels and lowering cholesterol. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, does not dissolve in water but plays another role: bulking up your stool to keep your digestive tract clear and preventing constipation. This unique combination of properties make fiber essential for disease prevention, gut health, and weight management.

The amount we should have daily

How much fiber you should eat varies based on factors like sex and age, but the Food and Drug Administration recommends 28 grams on a 2,000 calorie daily diet. To further break down the suggested guidelines:

Children up to 18 years old

Numbers will vary as they age, but children should have between 14-31 grams of fiber in their daily diet to reduce the risk of diseases and other health issues.

Adults younger than 50

Men under 50 should have up to 34 grams of fiber to stay healthy, while women under 50 should have up to 28 grams. 

Adults older than 50

Once you’ve hit 50 you should actually lower your fiber intake, with having up to 28 grams daily and women having up to 22 grams.

When we should eat it

You won’t be eating these foods all at once in a given day, so it’s better to break the intake up over your daily meals. Five to seven grams per meal with up to five grams of fiber with snacks is a solid, balanced way to keep up the right amount of fiber to stay healthy. So when eating during the day, add foods like dried fruits, almonds, beans, whole grain cereal, fruits, and vegetables to balance out proteins, carbs and other things in your diet.

A healthy amount of fiber daily can also help control your appetite and weight and be sure to drink plenty of fluids to help the fiber move through your system. 

Fiber is a vital part of your dietary health, and if you need help with meeting your nutritional needs to stay healthy, make an appointment with Dr. Mehta and Lonestar Gastroenterology today.