All About Fiber
There are so many great benefits of this important nutrient! Did you know that 9 out of 10 people don’t get enough fiber?1 Perhaps that’s why we’re a bit fuzzy about fiber facts such as what it is, why it’s so good for us, how much we need and where to find it. Get to know fiber now!
What is Fiber?
Fiber is a part of plant foods (e.g., grains, fruits, vegetables, beans) that the body doesn’t digest. There are different types of fiber, each with unique health benefits.
- Soluble fiber acts like a sponge in the gut to absorb water; some types actually form a gel in the body. Soluble fiber helps promote fullness and maintain healthy blood cholesterol and blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. Where to get it: psyllium and oat bran (both found in some cereals), apples, pears, beans and barley.2
- Insoluble fiber acts like a broom in the gut. It sweeps food through the digestive tract to help promote regularity. It also “bulks up” by absorbing water, which helps promote fullness. Where to get it: wheat bran and bran cereals, corn bran, some whole-wheat foods, vegetables and fruits.2
- Added fibers are “pulled out” of fiber-rich foods like grains, vegetables and beans and added as ingredients to foods with little or no fiber.2 Added fibers are also called “functional,” “novel” or “synthetic” fibers—even though they’re from natural sources. Adding fibers to foods can help us meet daily fiber intake goals without adding calories. They offer the same proven health benefits as fiber found naturally in foods.2 In fact, most studies done on the benefits of fiber used added fibers!3 Snack bars, cereals, breads and yogurts are examples of foods that may contain added fibers. The amount of “Dietary Fiber” per serving listed on a product’s Nutrition Facts panel includes both naturally-occurring and added fibers.
- Good for the gut. Fiber is famous for helping to promote regularity. But did you know that millions of friendly bacteria feed on fiber in the gut, which helps keep the gut healthy and running smoothly?4
- Great for your weight. Fiber promotes a healthy weight by helping you feel full. Also, higher fiber foods tend to have fewer calories than lower-fiber foods.5
- A go-to nutrient for good health. Eating fiber is linked to lower risk for health problems such as heart disease,6 certain types of cancer,7 and type 2 diabetes.8,9
When you shop, flip the package over to read the Nutrition Facts panel and check how much fiber the listed serving provides. At least 3 grams, or 10% Daily Value, is a “good source” and at least 5 grams, or 20% Daily Value, is an “excellent source.”
Chew on this surprising fact: Whole grain doesn’t mean a good source of fiber. Another great reason to flip the package to check the fiber content.
How to Boost Fiber Intake
- Choose foods. Get fiber from nutritious foods such as breads and cereals (check the Nutrition Facts panel for at least 3 grams per serving), beans, nuts, veggies and fruits.
- Sprinkle and mix it. Top salads and casseroles with Kellogg’s® All-Bran® Original cereal. Stir it into yogurt and other cereals, too.
- Go slow. Increase your fiber intake gradually to avoid discomfort such as gas and bloating.
- Don’t forget fluids. Drink plenty of water and other fluids throughout the day.
1. NHANES 2001-2 2. Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids. Chapter 7: Dietary, Functional, and Total Fiber. 2005.
3. Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis Jr, et al. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutr Rev. 2009; 67:188-205.
4. Guarner F, Malagelada JR. Gut flora in health and disease. Lancet. 2003; 361:512-519.
5. Slavin J, Green H. Dietary fiber and satiety. Nutrition Bulletin, 2007;32:S32-S42
6. Pereira MA, O’Reilly E, Augustsson K, et al. Dietary fiber and risk of coronary heart disease: a pooled analysis of cohort studies. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164:370-6.
7. World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, nutrition, physical activity and the prevention of cancer: a global perspective. 2007.
8. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. Draft Statement on Dietary Fiber. 2008.
9. Priebe MG, van Binsbergen JJ, de Vos R, et al. Whole grain foods for the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Jan 23;CD006061.
10. USDA/ARS. What We Eat in America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2007-2008. August, 2010.
11. NPD Group Research for Kellogg Company. 2009.