WHY IS FIBER SO IMPORTANT?
Dietary fiber is mainly found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Fiber is best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. But foods containing fiber also provide other health benefits, such as reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
What is dietary fiber?
Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes the parts of plant foods your body can’t digest or absorb. Unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates — which your body breaks down and absorbs — fiber isn’t digested by your body. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine and colon and out of your body. Fiber is commonly classified as soluble, which dissolves in water, or insoluble, which doesn’t dissolve.
- Soluble fiber.This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.
- Insoluble fiber.This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes, are good sources of insoluble fiber.
Most plant-based foods, such as oatmeal and beans, contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. However, the amount of each type varies in different plant foods. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of high-fiber foods.
How much dietary fiber does my child need?
There are different fiber recommendations for children based on energy needs, age, or weight.
- Eat 5. A simple way to make sure your children are getting enough fiber is by making healthful food choices. If your children are eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day along with other foods that are good sources of fiber, there is really no need to count fiber grams.
- Add 5. If you find it helpful to keep track of numbers, add 5 to your children’s age. For example, a 5-year-old would need about 10 grams of fiber each day. Note: The total daily recommended amount of up to 25 grams for adults can be used as a general guideline for older children.
- Nutrition Facts. Pay attention to the nutrition facts label on foods. Nutrition Facts can tell you all about the nutrients and ingredients in a food. Nutrition Facts can help you choose foods that provide the nutrition that’s right for you, including fiber. Dietary fiber is a nutrient listed under “Total Carbohydrate” on the Nutrition Facts. Excellent sources of fiber have 5 or more grams of fiber per serving. Good sources of fiber have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.