In accordance with 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most people don’t consume fiber adequately. Usually Americans consume 15 grams of fiber daily. Such amount of fiber intake is way less than ideal amount of fiber intake for adult men regardless of age and level of physical activity. The Dietary Guidelines recommend consumption of adequate amount of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, beans and legumes.
Factors Determining Fiber Intake
Activity level, age and gender are the factors that help determine recommendable fiber intake. Generally, men need to consume more fiber than women. Recommended fiber intake increases with increase in physical activity level and decreases with age. In accordance with the Dietary Guidelines, there are three levels of physical activities including sedentary, moderately active and active. Sedentary people don’t engage in regular exercise outside of day-to-day activities. Moderately active people engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity like walking at a fast pace on a daily basis, as guided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines. Physically active people are those who engage in activities for much longer than 150 minutes or high-intensity exercise on daily basis.
Recommendations for Fiber Intake
In accordance with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, you should consume at least fourteen grams of dietary fiber per 1000 calories. Sedentary men aged 19 to 30 years should eat 33.6 to 36.4 grams of fiber per day in relation to recommended caloric intake in the Guidelines. Moderately active people aged 19 to 30 years should consume 36.4 to 39.2 grams of fiber per day. Active people aged 19 to 30 years should consume 42 grams of fiber. Sedentary people aged 31 to 50 years should consume 30.8 grams of fiber. Moderately active people aged 31 to 50 years should consume 33.6 to 36.4 grams of fiber. Active people aged 31 to 50 years should consume 39.2 to 42 grams of fiber. The respective recommended amounts of fiber intake are 28 to 30.8 grams, 30.8 to 33.6 grams and 33.6 to 39.2 grams of fiber per day for sedentary, moderately active and active people aged 50 years.
There is also general recommendation for fiber intake set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. Men usually need 30 to 38 grams of fiber to maintain a healthy body. Women should consume 21 to 25 grams of fiber every day. Pregnant women should consume more fiber. As this is a general recommendation, the amount can decrease or increase, depending on age, gender, physical activity level and so on. It’s a good idea to get your fiber intake recommended by a dietitian, in relation to relevant factors.
Benefits of Adequate Fiber Intake
Based on solubility, fiber is of two types, including soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber melts in water and insoluble fiber doesn’t. Both soluble and insoluble fiber offer numerous health benefits. Eating right amount of fiber daily is important. Generally, fiber helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It helps prevent diabetes. It reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases. It fuels healthy gut bacteria. It helps improve digestive and bowel health. It facilitates weight loss significantly.
While increasing daily fiber intake, it’s important to do it in a way that helps avoid unpleasant side effects. Instead of eating a lot of fiber at once, it’s good to spread out your fiber intake throughout the day. This helps avoid gastrointestinal discomforts. It’s also a good idea to increase fiber intake gradually over two or three-week period rather than quickly. This helps avoid digestive side effects. Gradual increase in fiber intake allows your body to have time to adjust to the change. Drinking plenty of water is also helpful while increasing daily fiber intake.