Finding fiber requirements by age can be frustrating. Too much or too little fiber in the diet can cause digestive discomfort that can disrupt daily life.
Look no further for fiber requirements for seniors! Find out why seniors need fiber, and for a list of high-fiber foods for seniors.
What Is Dietary Fiber?
The first step to finding out how much fiber older adults need is to understand the two types of fiber:
- Soluble fiber breaks down in the body. It creates a gel-like substance when it is being digested, helping you to have a feeling of fullness for longer after a meal.
- Insoluble fiber does just the opposite and is not digested as it travels through the body. However, insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool which helps it move more quickly through your intestine.
Both types of fiber are sourced from plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. While nutrition experts encourage obtaining nutrients from a balanced diet, fiber supplements have their time and place.
Health Benefits of Fiber for Seniors
Fiber needs change with age, and older adults especially can benefit from fiber for the following reasons.
1. Fiber Helps Balance Blood Glucose & Cholesterol
Soluble fiber aids in the regulation of blood sugar and cholesterol. Since fiber either takes a longer time to break down in the body or isn’t absorbed by the body at all, it doesn’t cause the same blood sugar “spike” that carbohydrates do. This is helpful when you are trying to keep your blood sugar within a healthy range.
2. Fiber Helps Improve Irregular Stools
Digestive health can change with age, and eating an appropriate amount of fiber can help. Insoluble fiber, in particular, can help seniors who are struggling with constipation. Just be sure to drink enough water to assist in the digestive process.
3. Fiber Assists in Achieving a Healthy Weight
Instead of “empty calorie” (nutrient-poor) foods, fiber-fueled meals can help keep you feeling full for longer. This can help curb cravings and keep you at a healthy weight while still satiating your appetite. Additionally, foods that are higher in fiber are generally lower in sugar as well.
As you can see, fiber is important! The amount of fiber needed by an older adult can differ according to life stage, chronic conditions, or other factors. The next section explores fiber recommendations by age.
Fiber Recommendations By Age: How Much Fiber Do Seniors Need?
As a general rule of thumb, women over 50 years of age should have a goal of getting 21 grams of dietary fiber daily. Men over 50 years should typically try to get at least 30 grams of fiber per day.
Different conditions or diseases may affect your fiber intake recommendations. For example, elderly individuals with a compromised digestive system may not be able to tolerate too much fiber.
Luckily, even if you have to avoid foods containing harder-to-digest foods like nuts and seeds, there are many foods that can help you get the fiber you need.
High-Fiber Foods For Seniors
Fiber has been shown in studies to reduce the risk of chronic disease. As you age, this may add valuable years to your life so enjoy the following high-fiber foods today!
Easier-to-Digest Dietary Fiber
- Nut and seed butters
Foods with Soluble Fiber
- Brussels sprouts
- Citrus fruits
Foods with Insoluble Fiber
- Green beans
- Whole grains like brown rice
Foods with Both Kinds of Fiber
Getting enough fiber from a variety of sources is key to maintaining a healthy diet as you age. Pick a food from the list that sounds most appetizing and add it to your diet today.
The Final Word On Fiber For Seniors
Feel good about the amount of dietary fiber in your diet by fulfilling your fiber needs, starting today! Fiber can help improve digestion, balance blood sugar, and assist you in achieving a healthy weight.
Whether you are on a low or high-fiber diet right now, it’s important to make sure you are getting enough fiber each day.
Dodd K. Low Fiber Food List PDF [Free Download]. The Geriatric Dietitian. Published March 2022. https://thegeriatricdietitian.com/low-fiber-food-list-pdf/.
Ellis E. Fiber. Eat Right. Published November 2020. https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/fiber.
Volpe J. Printable List of High Fiber Foods (Free download!). The Geriatric Dietitian. Published December 2021. https://thegeriatricdietitian.com/printable-list-of-high-fiber-foods/.