One big question when crafting the ideal diet is how much fiber per day should I have? With so many different opinions out there concerning the amount of fiber you should be consuming each day, it’s easy to see why it’s so confusing. For something as important as daily fiber intake it seems that there should be a solid number to shoot for, one that is proven to be just what is needed for optimal health.
Or perhaps it’s best not to get too technical and simply eat more foods that are rich in fiber, and leave the calculations out of the equation. After all, fruits and vegetables don’t come with Nutrition Information or servings sizes listed, so it can be hard calculating just how much fiber you’re getting when you’re eating healthy fare. Perhaps the simple act of replacing unhealthy food low in fiber with healthy food high in fiber is enough to tip the balance of fiber in your favor.
National Fiber Council
The NFC says you should get 32 grams of fiber each day, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman. This is an organization that was founded 10 years ago for the sole purpose of expanding the awareness of the benefits of fiber, and to compile research that supports these claimed benefits. This could be a bullish recommendation considering the source, or it could be the most accurate recommendation since it’s their job to analyze all of the data available on fiber.
Food and Drug Administration
The FDA says you should have 25 grams of fiber if you consume 2000 calories, and 30 grams of fiber if you consume 2500 calories. They state that this is the minimum amount of fiber you should take in, but make no statement regarding the maximum amount of fiber to eat.
The Mayo Clinic
The Mayo Clinic defers to the Institute of Medicine for their fiber recommendation, which states that men should get 38 grams of fiber per day, and women should get 25 grams if they are under 50 years old. Age 51 or higher men should far less at 30 grams and women should reduce their intake to 21 grams.
American Heart Association
The AHA says that adults should consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories taken in. On a 2000 calorie diet that would be 28 grams and on a 3000 calorie diet that would be 42 grams. It can get a little confusing because on a related article they say that you should aim for 25 grams of fiber each day. Perhaps they are setting a more reasonable goal that is still 10-15 grams higher than the average amount of fiber Americans get each day.
What Health Experts Say
Brenda Watson, author of The Fiber35 Diet says that fiber is the key to weight loss and that the magic number is 35 grams per day. This may be a bit of a gimmick to make for a catchy diet name, and it’s on the higher side of the typical recommendation. Although it is interesting to note that it is just 3 grams higher than the National Fiber Council’s suggestion of 32 grams per day.
Doctor Oz hedges his bets and says you should get from 25-35 grams of fiber each day. He seems to be encompassing the lowest suggestion made by the American Heart Association at 25 grams, as well as the highest recommendation of 35 grams by Brenda Watson.
Dr. Andrew Weil says you should get 40 grams of fiber each day, and says you can reach this number rather easily by eating berries, beans, and whole grains. He stresses variety, making sure to eat a rounded diet that includes plenty of different healthy foods rather than relying on any one food to reach your goal.
Can You Get Too Much Fiber?
It is possible to go too far with your fiber intake, and there are some side effects of too much fiber. Even if you haven’t been getting enough fiber for years you don’t want to try to make up for it in an afternoon of high-fiber eating. Becoming aware of a fiber deficiency is the first step to fixing the problem, and making healthy changes over time is the best way to establish habits that stick. When you increase your fiber be sure you’re also drinking more water, as fiber soaks up the water in your system and can leave you dehydrated if you don’t compensate for the increase.
So What Is The Optimal Number?
What’s clear from all of the recommendations on fiber intake is that the 10-15 grams of fiber the typical American consumes each day is far too little.
Rather than shoot for a specific number of grams of fiber each day, it would be wise to eat an assortment of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes and you’ll easily take in a minimum of 25 grams of fiber, and likely be closer to the higher recommendation of 32 grams or more. If you’re not used to getting fiber, take it slow and gradual to avoid digestive discomfort as your body adjusts to the changes.
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