How To Eat More Fiber

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Wed Jun 07 2023.

Bowls of grains.

Dietary fiber is one of the most important carbohydrates. It plays an essential role in healthy digestion and reduces the risk of chronic health problems like high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.

Most people know to include fiber in their diets, but only 5% of Americans meet the National Academy of Medicine’s recommended daily goal of 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women. 

Getting enough fiber can be challenging, but there are various things you can do to increase your intake. This article explains how to eat more fiber to improve your digestive health.

What You’ll Need

To eat more fiber, you need to include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet. If you don’t cook or you rely on others to prepare your meals and snacks, this can be challenging, but it is possible. A registered dietitian or a nutritionist can make personalized recommendations that align with your needs. 

Steps for Eating More Fiber

Step 1: Replace Refined Grains with Whole-Grains

Most baked goods, like bread and cereal, are made from refined grains –– grains that have been ground into flour. Unfortunately, the refining process removes many of the vitamins and nutrients necessary for good digestive health. Try substituting refined items, like white bread and white rice, with whole-grain alternatives, such as wheat bread, brown rice, and whole-grain cereal. 

Step 2: Eat More Raspberries and Lentils

Raspberries are the perfect snack, especially if you need more fiber. 

“Just one cup of raspberries contains about 8 grams of fiber,” said Huma Shaikh, a registered dietician and contributing author at HitHealth. “You can enjoy them as a standalone snack, add them to your breakfast cereal or yogurt, or incorporate them into smoothies for a refreshing and fiber-rich boost.”

On the savory side, lentils are packed with soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps with healthy bowel movements. One-half cup of these tiny beans offers 9 grams of fiber. Lentils are also a great source of protein! 

Step 3: Add a Side of Vegetables To Your Meals

One of the easiest ways to increase your fiber intake is to replace starchy vegetables, like potatoes and corn, with fiber-rich alternatives. 

“Try adding a side of mixed vegetables to lunch and dinner,” said Melissa Darlow, RD, a registered dietitian based in New York City. “For example, a cup of Brussels sprouts contains 4 grams of fiber, as does a cup of kale. Bonus points if you add a side of legumes ––½ cup of black beans has 7 grams of fiber! Pair that with protein, and you have a balanced meal.” 

Step 4: Take a Fiber Supplement

Eating enough fiber can be hard if you or your loved one have difficulty chewing or swallowing. Even so, there are ways to increase your fiber intake. 

“I recommend supplementing natural fiber in the form of a powder that dissolves in water,” said Michelle Shu, a certified nutrition coach, registered dietitian in training, and owner of Gray Matter Health, LLC, which offers personalized nutrition coaching. “You can find branded fibers like Benefiber and Metamucil that include the active ingredient, psyllium husk.”

Shop Fiber Supplements

Step 5: Buy Vegan Milk

Vegan, or plant-based milks, have fewer calories and fat than cow’s milk. Plus, they’re easier to digest for people with lactose intolerance and contain more than twice the amount of fiber than dairy. Soy, hemp, almond, and oat milk contain fiber, but oat milk is the most fibrous, with about 2 grams of fiber per cup.  

Step 6: Make Smoothies

Smoothies are another excellent way to boost fiber intake if you have difficulty chewing or swallowing. The key is following a basic formula.

“To make a fibrous smoothie, choose a high-fiber fruit + a high-fiber vegetable,” said Melissa Darlow, RD. “Add your protein of choice (like peanut butter) along with a source of healthy fat and liquid and blend it together.”

Here’s an easy smoothie recipe to start with:

  • 1 banana (3 grams of fiber)

  • 1 cup of strawberries (3 grams of fiber)

  • 1 cup of frozen cauliflower (2 grams of fiber)

  • 1 cup of oat milk

  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt

  • 1 Tbsp of flax seeds (3 grams of fiber)

That’s 11 grams of fiber in one smoothie! Other high-fiber smoothie ingredients include chia seeds, almonds, blackberries, apples, pears, and oats. 

Step 7: Drink Plenty of Water

Fiber bulks up and softens your stool, but it can be hard to digest. Help your body out by drinking plenty of water. 

“Remember to stay hydrated as you increase your fiber intake,” Darlow said. “Fiber requires adequate hydration to be properly digested.”

Commonly Asked Questions

1) What are the health benefits of eating fiber?

Fiber offers numerous health benefits and should be eaten daily. 

“It helps with bowel regularity, managing weight, and blood sugar levels,” Darlow said. “Fiber can even boost immunity and mental health. It’s an effective prebiotic which provides nutrients for our healthy gut bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome offers many benefits, including improved gastrointestinal and mental health and immunity.”

From fighting constipation to supporting weight lose, as fiber makes you feel fuller for longer, adding more fiber to your day is packed with a ton of benefits.  

2) How much fiber should the average person eat?

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM), a non-profit organization committed to “a healthier future for everyone,” recommends at least 25 grams of daily fiber for adult women and at least 38 grams for adult men.

“If this seems like a lot, start small,” Darlow said. “For example, one cup of raspberries contains 8 grams of fiber, and one tablespoon of flaxseed contains 3 grams. If you add those ingredients to your morning smoothie, you’re almost halfway to your daily fiber goals. How easy is that!?”

3) Can you eat too much fiber?

Dietary fiber is necessary for good health, but like all other foods, moderation is key. Increasing your fiber intake too quickly can negatively impact your digestive system and lead to gastrointestinal problems like abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea. 

Instead of suddenly changing your meal plan, start small. “Add a side of fruit or vegetables to a meal, or switch out your white bread for wheat for the added fiber content,” Darlow said. “Partnering with a registered dietitian can help you make lasting change while reducing the risk of digestive problems.”

Need More Information?

Changing your or your loved one’s diet can be intimidating, especially if you have medical concerns. If you have questions about nutrition or feeding, contact us anytime by calling (800) 696-CARE or sending an email to Our Care Specialists speak English and Spanish and are available 24/7.

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.