Dietary fiber — found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes — is probably best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. But fiber can provide other health benefits as well, such as lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease. If you need to add more fiber to your diet, don't worry. Increasing the amount you eat each day isn't difficult. Find out how much dietary fiber you need and ways to include more high-fiber foods into your daily meals and snacks.
Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes all parts of plant foods that your body can't digest or absorb. Unlike other food components such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates — which your body breaks down and absorbs — fiber isn't digested by your body. Therefore, it passes virtually unchanged through your stomach and small intestine and into your colon. The amount of each type of fiber varies in different plant foods. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of high-fiber foods. Dietary fiber intake among adults in the United States averages about 15 grams. The Institute of Medicine recommends consuming 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you need.
Fiber is often classified into two categories: those that don't dissolve in water (insoluble fiber) and those that do (soluble fiber). This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts and many vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber. This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. You can find generous quantities of soluble fiber in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.