If you’ve been told to eat more fiber and are unsure how much is too much, here’s the answer. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends the following:
Total Daily Dietary Fiber Recommendations
|Sex||Under Age 50||Age 51 and Older|
|Women||25 grams||21 grams|
|Men||38 grams||30 grams|
Unfortunately most people consume 10 to 15 grams daily, and the problem is usually not enough fiber, rather than too much. In fact it’s actually hard to eat too much fiber. However, if a person were to take a fiber supplement, eat high fiber foods at every meal, and drink caffeine, they might find they’re constipated, but it’s not just because of too much fiber. Here’s a quick lesson in how fiber works, and how you can make it work for you.
Fiber comes in two forms—soluble and insoluble—and you need both as they do different things. For instance, soluble fiber combines with fatty acids and becomes gel-like. It is slow moving and helps make you fill full. Insoluble fiber is opposite of soluble fiber in that it helps wastes move quickly through the intestines. It also prevents constipation and keeps proper pH balance in the gastrointestinal tract so you don’t develop colon cancer. (Read Fiber is More Than a Hill of Beans for a list of high fiber foods, as well as a list of soluble fiber foods and insoluble fiber foods.)
In order for fiber to work properly, you also have to drink water, otherwise, you have bulk and no lubrication, which results in constipation. Water is important as it helps move everything along and aids the body in ridding itself of wastes. Also, don’t think drinking coffee or tea adds to your total water intake. Caffeine is a diuretic and actually increases your need for water. So, for every cup of cola, caffeinate tea, or coffee you drink, drink an extra cup of water.
An easy way to know how much water you should drink is to take your weight and divide it in half. The halved number is the number of ounces you need to drink each day. So, for example, if I weigh 150 pounds, half is 75 pounds. The 75 pounds converts to 75 ounces, which is what I need to drink each day. (Remember, this is a guideline. If you eat alot of fresh vegetables and fruits, you probably need less water, whereas if you drink coffee, eat prepared or packaged foods and alot of meat, you likely need more water.)
Remember high fiber foods are good for your health, and they needed to be included in your diet. Fiber reduces cholesterol and prevents colon cancer, constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), diverticulitis disease, and hemorrhoids. However, you have to ensure you do more than just eat fiber, you have to eat both insoluble and soluble fiber and consume the right amount of water.