Dietary fiber (sometimes called roughage or bulk) is a carbohydrate and the part of plant foods that our bodies cannot digest or absorb. Simply put—fiber keeps us regular and can help maintain a healthy weight!
Dietary fiber impacts fat and glucose metabolism and can act as a prebiotic to help prevent colon cancer, alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and disease, and assist in mineral absorption. In the aging population, it is recommended to consume at 14g fiber per 1000 calories. In general, most seniors do not eat the recommended amount of fiber which can lead to constipation and higher risk of diseases, including diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Because increased fiber intake can cause gas and bloating, seniors should incorporate more fiber into their diet gradually and make sure they are consuming adequate fluid intake.
Here are some more tips on how to increase fiber in your diet:
As mentioned above, beans and legumes are excellent sources of fiber, protein, folate & potassium and can be used in place of meat in many recipes. Additionally, a ½ cup serving of beans provides around 20% of the daily recommended value for fiber intake. Beans are both an economical and environmentally friendly choice. If you are hesitant to try beans, start small—incorporate them into soups, stews, casseroles and other favorites.
Here’s a great recipe for an easy pasta dish packed with healthy vegetables, garbanzo beans and lots of flavor! Use any vegetables you like and omit salt in the recipe and use “no added salt” beans for a low-sodium option.
Rebecca Kapsen, RDN, LDN
Ebenezer Corporate Registered Dietitian