Fiber is an essential part of your diet, but do you know if you're getting enough of this nutrient? Here's what seniors need to know about proper fiber intake and a few ways that you can sneak more of it into your daily meals.
Daily fiber intake
According to the University of San Francisco California Medical Center, the average American only gets half of the recommended daily intake of fiber each day. To figure out if you're one of the people who's lacking on fiber intake, you'll need to know how much fiber you really need. Here's what the Mayo Clinic recommended:
- Women over 50: 21 grams of dietary fiber per day.
- Men over 50: 30 grams of dietary fiber per day.
The more of this nutrient that you get from natural sources, the better. There are fiber supplements that you can take, but it's always more beneficial to get your daily dose of fiber from nutritious foods that provide you with other vitamins and minerals as well.
How fiber helps your body
You probably know that dietary fiber plays a key role in digestion, and drinking plenty of prune juice will help keep your bowels normalized. However, that's not the only role that the nutrient plays in your body.
Fiber intake is related to cholesterol levels, so seniors who have been struggling to maintain healthy LDL and HDL readings should pay special attention to their diets. Eating plenty of fiber-rich foods may help to lower those "bad" cholesterol levels. There's also evidence that proper fiber consumption can help reduce the risk of other heart-related problems, like hypertension and inflammation.
This essential nutrient also helps to control blood sugar levels, according to CNN.com. Soluble fibers, like those found in fruits and vegetables, slow down the rate at which food leaves the stomach. In turn, this delays the rate at which your blood sugar rises after meals, and it also can keep you satiated for longer.
Fitting more fiber into your diet
If you crunch the numbers and figure out that you're not getting enough fiber in your diet, there are a few ways that you can get these levels up to where they should be. Use these three tips to increase fiber intake on a daily basis.
1. Trade in your fruit juice
Fruit juice is a great addition to your breakfast, as it provides lots of vitamins and minerals, but fruit in liquid form is missing an essential component. If you want to increase your fiber intake, swap out your morning juice for a piece of whole fruit instead. According to USFC Medical Center, one apple, orange or pear can provide you with 3 or 4 grams of fiber - more than 10 percent of your daily goal!
2. Always opt for whole grains
When you're in the grocery store, do you reach for whole-grain or white bread? Kashi explained that whole-grain bread, pasta and crackers contain more dietary fiber than their refined counterparts. Always choose whole grains when you have an option, and your fiber intake will experience a significant boost.
3. Love fiber superfoods
Prunes aren't the only food that's packed with fiber. Some other fiber-rich ingredients include beans, raspberries, broccoli, celery and squash. Work these ingredients into your senior nutrition plan for a happy digestive tract. Need some recipe inspiration? Here's a quick and easy side dish that's packed with fiber:
Easy Black Beans
Serve this side dish with your favorite entree for a well-balanced meal.
- 1 16-oz. can black beans
- 1/2 white onion, chopped
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan, combine beans, onion and garlic. Place on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then stir in the remaining ingredients. Simmer for 5 minutes, and then your beans are ready to eat.