Signs You Might Not Be Getting Enough Fiber 

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

Exhausted young man came home after work flopped down on sofa
Focusing on your daily fiber intake might not sound as exciting as getting the low-down on the new restaurant in town, or talking with friends about a great new recipe, but when it comes to eyeing what you are eating, fiber should not take a back seat. Think of high-fiber foods as the quietly efficient office manager of your daily diet. Eaten in the right amount, it keeps things running smoothly and helps to regulate different functions in your body. But if you are not getting enough fiber, your body will let you know. Let’s look at some signs you might not be eating enough fiber.
First, why is fiber so important if it’s something your body can’t even digest? Also known as roughage, dietary fiber helps things move through your digestive system. It is found in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. But there are benefits to fiber beyond just “keeping you regular.”
Dynamic duo. There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Here’s a breakdown of the differences, according to the Mayo Clinic’s fiber guide.
  • Soluble fiber: Found in oats, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, psyllium and peas. It helps lower blood sugar levels and blood cholesterol levels.
  • Insoluble fiber: Found in whole-wheat flour, nuts, beans and vegetables like potatoes and green beans. It helps move digested food through the intestines, creating regular bowel movements.
Daily dose. How much fiber do you need each day? Men should try to get between 30 and 38 grams per day, with men older than 50 falling on the lower end of that range. Women should strive to get 20 to 25 grams of fiber each day.
Warning signs. Some of the signs that your body is not getting enough fiber are pretty recognizable – but a couple might surprise you.
  • Constipation: Having irregular bowel movements, or having a hard time having a bowel movement.
  • Feeling hungry every couple hours: Eating fiber helps you feel full. When you don’t get enough fiber in your diet, you might eat a meal and find yourself hungry in another couple hours.
  • Weight gain: Because eating low-fiber foods will usually mean you’re hungry more often, you likely will find yourself snacking more and gaining weight.
  • Bloating: Gassiness and feeling bloated are signs you need to add more fiber to your diet.
  • Fatigue: Because fiber helps regulate blood-sugar levels, not getting enough fiber can lead to a bit of a blood sugar rollercoaster. This can leave you feeling like you need a nap.
  • Higher cholesterol: The soluble fiber in foods like oatmeal helps keep your blood cholesterol levels in check. Without enough fiber, cholesterol can become a red-flag issue leading to heart disease.
Fiber boosters. If you want to increase your daily fiber intake, here are some simple ways to do that, according to Healthline.
  • Snack on whole fruits
  • Eat air-popped popcorn
  • Sprinkle chia seeds on your food
  • Eat oatmeal a few times each week
  • Eat avocados
  • Snack on nuts, or add them into your meals
  • Work more lentils and beans into your weekly menu
Photo credit: Getty Images

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