Few people consume enough fiber in their diet, even though it is not as hard as you might imagine. We need fiber to keep our bowels healthy, and it also has many more unexpected health benefits. In this article, we uncover how you can increase your daily fiber intake for healthier living.
What Is Fiber For?
Fiber, also known as roughage, comes from fruits and vegetables. It is the parts of the plant that our digestive processes cannot break down. Insoluble fibers (including cellulose, pectin and lignin) act like scourers, cleaning the digestive tract and making bowel movements easier. Soluble fibers (including inulin and oligosaccharides) nourish your beneficial gut bacteria, which ferment and break down the fiber.
In addition to improving digestive health, scientists have uncovered many more, often surprising, benefits from adding more fiber to your diet:
- Reducing the risk of various cancers of the bowel.
- Reducing cholesterol and blood lipids.
- Slowing sugar absorption and reducing appetite.
- Reducing the risk of developing diabetes and obesity.
- Reducing the risk of developing heart disease and lowering blood pressure.
- Significantly reducing the risk of gastrointestinal disorders (constipation, diarrhea, reflux disease, duodenal ulcer, diverticulitis and hemorrhoids).
- Enhancing immune function, elevating mood and even improving memory.
So, now you know why fiber is good for your health, how are you going to get the recommended amount of 25g per day for women, and 36g for men?
Cereal for Breakfast
By switching to cereal for breakfast, you can significantly increase the amount of fiber you eat. Go for a whole grain cereal, without any added sugar, that contains at least 3g of fiber. If you don’t like cereal, you can go for whole-wheat toast for the same benefits. Adding wheat bran to your breakfast has also been proven to improve digestion by increasing fiber intake. 
Pack some high-fiber snacks into your day and avoid eating high-calorie, sugary alternatives. Whole grain crackers or cereal bars are a great way to cut down on unhealthy treats and increase the amount of fiber you eat. Chickpeas are an excellent high fiber and fun snack when made into hummus as a dip for vegetable sticks. Popcorn is another high-fiber snack, but avoid added sugar or salt. Instead, try natural sweeteners, such as honey.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
You can easily augment the fiber in your diet by eating fruit or vegetables with every meal. Diets high in fruit and vegetables have been proven to increase colon function and reduce the risk of bowel cancers. The fruits that contain the most fiber are apples, pears and berries, but avoid the sweetest fruits (like oranges) if you are trying to lose weight. Virtually all green vegetables contain a good amount of fiber, but artichokes, peas, broccoli and Brussels sprouts contain the most.
Switching to high-fiber alternatives is an easy way to increase your fiber intake. For instance, use whole-wheat flour instead of white flour in your recipes. Swap white rice for brown. Being mindful of high-fiber options means you can gently increase your intake of fiber without having to make drastic changes to your diet.
Legumes, such as beans and lentils, are the best way to increase your fiber consumption. There are numerous ways to add legumes into your food, for example in salads, soups and stir-fries. Alternatively, you might try some other cooking styles, such as Indian or Asian cooking where legumes are more common — increasing your fiber intake and discovering new flavors.
As you’ve discovered, consuming lots of fiber is really important for your health, and the tips listed here can help you easily increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Gradual changes are best, allowing your digestive system time to adapt to your new healthy high-fiber lifestyle!References