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10 Ways to Incorporate More Fiber into Your Diet
Fiber is an important factor in maintaining a healthy digestive system. As you age, your body naturally carries more weight, and your digestive system slows down. Seniors have slower metabolisms, less muscle mass, and typically get less physical activity than younger adults.
If your diet lacks fiber, you may feel constipated or have other stomach problems. The recommended fiber intake for people over 50 is 21 grams per day for women, and 30 grams per day for men. Incorporating more fiber into your diet can help lessen constipation and lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Before starting a new diet, always talk to your doctor.
How to Add Fiber to Your Diet
- Read food labels. You can see how much fiber is in a product by reading food labels. Foods that contain more than 4 grams of fiber are considered high fiber foods, while foods that contain less than 2 grams of fiber are considered low fiber foods.
- Eat fruits and vegetables with the skin. The skin or peel of fruits and vegetables contains up to 33% more fiber than those without peels. Certain fruits, like apples and pears, contain almost 5 grams of fiber. The fiber from fruits and vegetables can make you feel fuller, especially when paired with foods that contain fats or protein, such as nuts or cheese.
- Use whole grain flour when baking. White flour can be swapped for whole grain flour in any recipe and contains five times as much fiber. You could also use coconut flour, which has 10 grams of fiber per ounce, or soy flour, which contains 7 grams of fiber per ounce.
- Eat more legumes. This includes beans, dried peas, and lentils. They’re rich in fiber, protein, carbs, vitamins, and minerals. A cup of cooked beans can deliver up to 50% of your daily fiber needs. Try replacing meat with legumes a few times per week. Eating hummus or topping salads with cooked beans is a delicious way to incorporate more legumes into your diet.
- Focus on fiber during every meal. Spreading out your fiber intake can help you eat more throughout the day. For breakfast, choose a high-fiber cereal or oatmeal. For lunch, have a salad with raw vegetables or a sandwich made with whole grain bread. For dinner, add beans and other vegetables to your meals.
- Eat berries. Berries tend to have less sugar and more fiber than other fruits. Choose raspberries and blackberries that contain 8 grams of fiber per cup, or blueberries that contain 4 grams of fiber per cup. You can add berries to salads, oatmeal, cereals, yogurt, or eat them by themselves as a healthy snack.
- Eat more nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds contain protein, healthy fats, and fiber. One ounce of almonds has about 4 grams of fiber. Other nuts and seeds that are high in fiber include chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, pistachios, chestnuts, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds. Aim to have a 1–2-ounce portion a day.
- Snack on popcorn. Low-calorie, low-fat popcorn is a great snack because it’s a whole grain. Three cups of air-popped popcorn contain 4 grams of fiber. To add more flavor, sprinkle seasonings like cinnamon or cayenne pepper over it.
- Switch to brown rice. Compared to white rice, brown rice contains high-fiber bran. Wild rice or quinoa also contain more fiber than white rice and have more flavor and a firmer texture.
- Go slowly. Adding too much fiber to your diet too quickly can cause stomach bloating, cramping, and gas. Slowly increase your fiber intake over a few weeks. This lets the natural bacteria in your digestive system adjust to the change in your diet. Drinking plenty of water also helps your body efficiently absorb fiber.