Find all of the information you need on fiber, in one place.
Getting Enough?Men and women of all ages need different amounts of fiber. Chances are you aren't getting enough - find out here.
Fiber Rich FoodsAdding more fiber to your diet is easy. Visit this section to see what fiber rich foods to incorporate into your daily routine.
Fiber isn't just for adults and old folks - It's also important that children get enough fiber in their diets.
Soluble fiber slows down the absorption of glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream. Because there are ramifications of food having little fiber and lots of sugar, including difficulty concentrating and becoming tired immediately, it is important to get soluble fiber into your child's diet. After a meal that is high in fiber, sugar enters the bloodstream slowly and does not cause that peak in blood sugar level, which is a good thing. "A lot of foods that kids like have little fiber and lots of sugar which enters the blood very quickly and then the blood sugar drops rapidly, causing kids to be hungry again quicker and to have a hard time concentrating," says Dr. Ross.
Soluble fiber also helps to lower blood cholesterol by interfering with bioacids, which contain cholesterol so it is not absorbed in the intestines. It may seem ridiculous to worry about cholesterol in a child, but heart disease actually can start in the younger years. "There is somewhat of an epidemic of childhood obesity in our society and significant health problems can exist because of that," says Dr. Ross. "So having fiber in a child's diet and getting them used to eating those foods is a great benefit." Insoluble fiber is important for maintaining regularity and digestive tract health. A diet high in insoluble fiber also helps decrease episodes of constipation and gives kids a feeling of fullness so they are not overeating.
Fiber adds bulk for optimal movement of the bowels and provides food for intestinal bacteria to grow. This is important for bowel health, especially since one of the bowel's functions is providing 70 percent of the body's immune system capability, says Kathleen Mahan, a registered dietitian and a nutrition counselor in Seattle, Wash.
"Fiber is particularly important for children's diets because it is essential for optimal bowel movement and health so that the child does not get constipated and then uninterested in eating, which may lead to poor weight gain," says Mahan. "Sometimes constipated children are moody and uncomfortable, just like adults." A diet high in fiber combined with plenty of water (about a quart a day for most children) can help prevent and relieve constipation.
Sneaking Fiber Into Your Child's Diet
Dr. Ross recommends leaving the skin on apples when eating them or leaving the skin on potatoes when you mash them, because of the added benefit of the fiber in the skin. When kids are snacking, try to give them whole grain crackers or graham crackers, apple slices, nuts or sunflower seeds instead of cookies and candy. Celery sticks with peanut butter or raw veggies are good, and most kids will eat more raw veggies than cooked, especially if they have something to dip them into.
Quick tips for adding fiber to a meal:
* Serve oatmeal with raisins in it.
* Add fruit to cereal.
* Add dried beans to salad.
* Serve chili.
* Have watermelon for dessert.
* Serve baked apples.
* Try different kinds of fruits and veggies in order to find one kids like.
* Make fruit smoothies.