Most of us know that fiber, a carbohydrate that can’t be digested, is important for our physical health. But it continues to remain a “dietary component of public health concern,” according to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). More than 90% of Americans aren’t getting the fiber they need. And it becomes even more important as you age. That’s because your metabolism slows down, your muscle mass decreases, and it becomes easier to gain weight. Fiber for older adults can help with all these issues. It can help lower cholesterol, decrease food cravings, and even increase testosterone in men. In fact, recent studies show that people who eat more fiber reduce their risk of death from any cause. In this blog post, we’ll explore the different kinds of fiber — and how much — your body needs. We’ll also share some tips on how to get more fiber in your diet.
What to Know About Fiber
To understand fiber requirements by age, first it helps to know how fiber works in your body. There are two types of fiber that you need, both made from the indigestible parts of plants: Soluble fiber (the kind that dissolves in water to move through your body) and insoluble fiber (remains intact as it moves through your digestive system). Soluble fiber attaches to cholesterol and helps remove it from your body, helping your heart and blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber helps keep you regular and can also reduce your risk of colorectal cancer.
So what are the fiber recommendations by age? Referencing the 2020-2025 DGA, women age 51 and older need 22 grams of fiber daily, while men of the same age need 28 grams per day. If that sounds like a lot, don’t worry — incorporating high-fiber foods for older adults may be easier (and more tasty) than you might think.
The Best High-Fiber Foods
Incorporating more fiber into your diet doesn’t have to turn mealtimes into a chore. If you’re wondering how to increase your fiber intake, simply browse this list of high-fiber options that are also rich in flavor, and write down your favorites. Then keep your list on the fridge, so you can easily reference it before your next snack or meal and ensure you’re getting all the fiber you need.
- Fruits — Adding it to your yogurt, cereal, or salad is an easy way to add more fruit into your diet. By substituting fruit for dessert, especially if you’re diabetic, you’ll also help reduce your blood sugar levels.
- Vegetables — Broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach, and other green, leafy vegetables are packed with fiber, which is why salads are such an easy way to work fiber into your diet.
- Nuts and seeds — Most nuts and seeds are rich in fiber, like these tasty examples: almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts.
- Oats — An oatmeal breakfast is the perfect way to get fiber for older adults, since oatmeal is one of the healthiest grains you can eat, and popular mix-ins like raisins and bananas are high in fiber, too.
- Cereals and grains — Look for whole-grain bread rather than white bread, and use whole-wheat flour when baking. Ideally, you should have one cup of whole grains with each meal.
- Legumes and beans — If you’re wondering how to increase fiber intake in a significant way, incorporate more beans into your soups and salads. Just one cup of canned baked beans has 10 grams of fiber!
Here’s an easy way to check your groceries for fiber content: Foods containing a minimum of 2.5 grams of fiber are usually labeled a “good source” of fiber, and those labeled an “excellent source” contain more than 5 grams of fiber per serving. Remember, when reaching your goals for fiber recommendations by age, it’s also important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. This has multiple health benefits, but specifically helps keep fiber moving through your body, which prevents constipation and keeps your digestive system working properly.
A Healthy Diet and so Much More
The best high-fiber foods are just one part of our elevated dining experience at Holly Hall. See for yourself why our residents rate our food prepared by our culinary team so highly in their satisfaction surveys. Contact us to get a taste of the delicious lifestyle at Holly Hall today, and learn why generations of our residents are living up to our name. “Holly,” explains President Tamara Jenkins, “is a long-living bush that grows more beautiful with age.”