How much fiber is recommended per day?

Dietary fiber encompasses various plant compoundsmainly carbohydrates and analogs, that our digestive system neither digest nor absorb but which are partially or totally fermented by the bacterial flora of the intestine. To differentiate dietary fiber from digestible vegetable carbohydrates, it is often described as non-starch polysaccharides.

It is recommended to eat between 25 and 40 grams of fiber daily with generally higher needs in men (38 g for men, 25 g for women; 30 and 21 respectively from 50). The average diet in Western lifestyle countries is between 15 and 20 g per day, mainly due to the high intake of protein foods of animal origin that have a very low or no dietary fiber content.

During childhood and adolescence fiber recommendations tend to be a bit lower:

  • 2-5 years: 15g
  • 5-11 years: 20g
  • 11-16 years: 25g
  • 16-18 years: 30g

Meeting fiber recommendations is easier than you might think. It is enough to include in the diet foods as frequent and accessible as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, or legumesto the detriment of products of animal origin that do not contain any fiber.

To make a transition to a diet rich in fiber, it is recommended to do it gradually, adding 5 g more fiber to the diet every day. In this way the intestine and the intestinal flora adapt. Otherwise discomfort such as high flatulence, meteorism and even abdominal pain.

Although we do not digest fiber, it is a very important food for the general health and for the digestive health In particular, it is recommended include it in the daily diet even if it does not provide calories or any other essential nutrient. For example, it can relieve or prevent constipation, diverticulosis, obesity, hypercholesterolemia, or diabetes mellitus.

In addition, being a food present only in vegetables, extra health benefits are obtained, such as the prevention of colon and rectal cancer. There are contradictory epidemiological studies on the link between dietary fiber and the prevention of these types of cancer, however, most have in common this link with a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fresh fruits and other vegetable foods little processedwhat are the natural sources of dietary fiber and that they also provide numerous micronutrients, are low in saturated fat and their inclusion in the diet reduces the consumption of red meat and processed meat derivatives, which do have a clearer relationship with cancer.

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