Dietary fiber is plant material that cannot be broken down by human digestion. The high-fiber diet is a healthy way for the whole family to eat. It can help with constipation, diarrhea, diverticular disease, and may decrease the incidence of colon cancer, reduce blood cholesterol, and help manage diabetes.
- Adults - the American Dietetic Association recommends 20 - 35 grams of fiber per day
- Children - Add five to the child's age to get the recommended grams of fiber per day
Types of Fiber
- Insoluble fiber (cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin) provides bulk, which helps move food through the GI tract.
- Soluble fiber (gums, mucilages, pectins) forms a gel with water, and slows food through the GI tract. Most plant foods provide both types of fiber.
Make sure to increase dietary fiber gradually to avoid gas, abdomen distention, and diarrhea.
Proper hydration is a very important part of the high-fiber diet. Fluids work with fiber to promote regularity. Make sure to offer plenty of fluids (such as milk and water) to your child on a high-fiber diet.
Making High Fiber Choices
Reading food labels will help you choose higher fiber foods: A low-fiber source would provide 3 grams of fiber per serving. For other ideas, look for high-fiber recipes at your local library, bookstore, or online.
Good sources of fiber include:
- Fruits, nuts and seeds, vegetables and legumes (including the skins when able)
- Whole grains: whole grain breads, cereals, crackers, flours, rolls, muffins, pastas, bran, brown rice
- High-fiber snack ideas: Raisins, popcorn, granola bars, oatmeal-raisin cookies, fresh fruit, carrot and celery sticks
Food is the best way to get fiber. If you are unable to provide enough fiber through your child's diet, fiber supplements are available. Please discuss with you doctor before starting any of these.