Fiber is the stuff that makes your digestion hum, but the average American ingests less than half of the recommended amount per day. Most of us easily manage about 12 grams, but recommendations for optimal health range from 20 to 35 grams of dietary fiber a day.
There are two types of dietary fiber — soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber forms a gelatinous mass when combined with water that helps support healthy digestion, and has benefits in supporting heart health and in blood sugar control. Insoluble fiber does not form a gel-like mass; instead, it supports the ease of elimination by absorbing water and adding bulk to keep things running… smoothly.
You can significantly boost your intake of both types of fiber in your diet by eating more fruits, vegetables, grains and beans. Here are some of the top sources:
Fruits: One medium-sized apple contains 2.9 grams of total fiber, of which 0.9 grams are soluble and 2 grams are insoluble. One medium-sized orange contains 2 grams of fiber, of which 0.5 grams are soluble and 1.5 grams are insoluble.
Vegetables: One large carrot contains 2.9 grams of total fiber, of which 1.3 grams are soluble and 1.6 grams are insoluble. One medium-sized potato (with skin) contains a 4.0 grams of fiber, of which 1 gram is soluble and 3 grams are insoluble.
Grains: Cooked oatmeal (1 cup) contains 3 grams of total fiber of which 1 gram is soluble, and 2 grams are insoluble. One slice of whole wheat bread contains 2.5 grams of total fiber of which 0.5 grams are soluble and 1.6 grams are insoluble.
Beans: One cup of cooked kidney beans contains a total of 4.5 grams of fiber of which 1 gram is soluble, and 3.5 grams are insoluble. One cup cooked pinto beans contains a total of 5.9 grams of fiber of which 1.2 grams is soluble, and 4.7 grams is insoluble.
Another way to get more fiber is with supplement drink mixes–just add by the spoonful to your favorite fruit juice, smoothie or a glass of water. I like Vitacost’s Organic High Fiber Hemp Protein which contains .05 grams of soluble fiber and 6.5 grams of insoluble fiber in two tablespoons. Yerba Prima’s Daily Fiber Formula blends together psyllium husk, soy fiber, oat bran, acacia gum and apple pectin extract, and it delivers 21 grams of soluble fiber and 10.2 grams of insoluble fiber per serving.