How to get more fiber into your diet
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Most of us need to eat more fiber and have fewer added sugars in our diet. Eating plenty of fiber is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.

Health experts recommend that our dietary fiber intake should increase to 30g a day, as part of a healthy balanced diet. As most adults are only eating an average of about 18g day, we need to find ways of increasing our intake.

Children under the age of 16 don't need as much fiber in their diet as older teenagers and adults, but they still need more than they get currently:

• 2-5 year-olds: need about 15g of fiber a day 

• 5-11 year-olds: need about 20g 

• 11-16 year-olds: need about 25g 

On average, children and teenagers are only getting around 15g or less of fiber a day. Encouraging them to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and starchy foods (choosing wholegrain versions and potatoes with the skins on where possible) can help to ensure they are eating enough fiber.

Why do we need fiber in our diet?

There is strong evidence that eating plenty of fiber (commonly referred to as roughage) is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. 

Choosing foods with fiber also makes us feel fuller, while a diet rich in fiber can help digestion and prevent constipation.

Find out more about the importance of fiber and when you may need to reduce your intake, in Why is fiber important?

Tips to increase your fiber intake

It's important to get fiber from a variety of sources, as eating too much of one type of food may not provide you with a healthy balanced diet. 

To increase your fiber intake you could:

Choose a higher-fiber breakfast cereal such as plain whole-wheat biscuits (like Weetabix) or plain shredded whole grain (like Shredded wheat), or porridge as oats are also a good source of fiber. 

Go for whole meal or granary breads, or higher fiber white bread, and choose wholegrains like whole-wheat pasta, bulgur wheat or brown rice. 

Go for potatoes with their skins on, such as a baked potato or boiled new potatoes. .

Add pulses like beans, lentils or chickpeas to stews, curries and salads. 

Include plenty of vegetables with meals, either as a side dish or added to sauces, stews or curries. 

Have some fresh or dried fruit, or fruit canned in natural juice for dessert. Because dried fruit is sticky, it can increase the risk of tooth decay, so it's better if it is only eaten as part of a meal, rather than as a between-meal snack. 

For snacks, try fresh fruit, vegetable sticks, rye crackers, oatcakes and unsalted nuts or seeds. 

 

Fiber in your daily diet : Listed below is the fiber content of some example meals. 

Fiber at breakfast

Two thick slices of whole meal toasted bread (6.5g of fiber) topped with one sliced banana (1.4g) and a small glass of fruit smoothie drink (1.5g) will give you around 9.4g of fiber.

Fiber at lunch

A baked jacket potato with the skin on (2.6g) with a 200g portion of reduced-sugar and reduced-salt baked beans in tomato sauce (9.8g) followed by an apple (1.2g) will give you around 13.6g of fiber. 

Fiber at dinner

Mixed vegetable tomato-based curry cooked with onion and spices (3.3g) with wholegrain rice (2.8g) followed by a lower fat fruit yoghurt (0.4g) will give you around 6.5g of fiber. Bear in mind that fruit yoghurts can sometimes be high in added sugars, so check the label and try to choose lower-sugar versions.

Fiber as a snack

A small handful of nuts can have up to 3g of fiber. Make sure you choose unsalted nuts, such as plain almonds, without added sugars. 

Total: Around 32.5g of fiber

Fiber on food labels

The above example is only an illustration, as the amount of fiber in any food can depend on how it is made or prepared and on how much of it you eat. Most pre-packaged foods have a nutrition label on the side or back of the packaging, which often gives you a guide about how much dietary fiber the food contains. 

From:nhs.uk

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