Fiber

  • Fiber Dietary fiber is a healthy part of the plant foods we eat that cannot be broken down by our body. You may be asking yourself, how can something I can’t digest be good for me? Not only do the different types of fibers found in plant foods improve digestion by regulating common problems such as constipation and diarrhea, they lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels, create a feeling of fullness so we eat less, and reduce the risk of certain cancers.

    When you see the orange fiber icon on a menu item, it means that it has more than 2 grams of fiber to help promote a healthy digestive system.

    Types of Fiber


    There are two different types of fiber that can provide these health benefits when we eat enough:

    Soluble fibers are found in many fruits, beans, oat bran, and psyllium (used in many fiber supplements). These fibers dissolve in water and turn to a gel during digestion. This helps slow digestion making us feel full and ultimately helps control blood sugar levels. Additionally, the gel acts like a sponge, trapping excess blood cholesterol and carrying it out of the body. Excellent sources of soluble fiber include oatmeal, strawberries, pears, citrus fruits, apples, lentils and other beans.

    Insoluble fibers
    are found in the skin of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Whole grains, such as brown rice and whole wheat, have not had the outer layer of the grain removed, and contain much more dietary fiber than white rice and refined white flour. Unlike soluble fibers, insoluble fibers do not dissolve in water and make stool move easier through the body. This decreases constipation and lowers the risk of colon cancer.1 Good sources of insoluble fiber include oatmeal, whole wheat, brown rice, nuts, seeds, carrots, green beans, and lentils.

    Whole Grain Handy Tip #1: For quick and easy way to spot whole grain products in the grocery store, look for the golden-yellow Whole Grain Stamp on cereal, bread, and snack products. Click here to learn more about the Whole Grain Stamp.
     
    Handy Tip #2: Sometimes adding fresh fruits and vegetables into the diet seem challenging because of the cost. Did you know that canned or frozen vegetables and fruits offer many of the same benefits as fresh ones? Try purchasing canned fruit packed in 100% fruit juice or canned vegetables labeled low-sodium and give them a quick rinse with water for an easy and affordable way to add more fiber into your child’s diet.

    Fiber Recommendations

     
    The average American only consumes about 15 grams of fiber per day, considerably less than the recommended levels for each life stage.1 The Adequate Intakes (AI) of fiber for children is as follows:
     
    Children 1-3 years19 grams/day
    Children 4-8 years25 grams/day
    Males 9-13 years31 grams.day
    Females 9-1326 grams/day
    Males 14-18 years38 grams/day
    Females 14-18 years26 grams/day

    Parents: click here to learn more about fiber, foods for your kids that are high in fiber, and recommendations for how much fiber kids should eat each day.

    Recipes
    Try out some of these kid-friendly recipes that are rich in fiber that you and your child can make together!
    Watch a webinar to learn more about fiber labeling in Highline Schools.
     
    Sources
    1. Slavin, JL. Position of the American Dietetic Association: health implications of dietary fiber. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008; 108: 1716-1731. Available at: http://www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8355&terms=fiber. Accessed August 4, 2013.