How much fiber per day do you need?
Fiber is an important part of a balanced diet. It can help promote regular bowel movements and may offer other health benefits.
Dietary fiber comes from plant-based foods. There are two primary types:
- Soluble fiber: It dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance that slows down digestion. Soluble fiber may help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Insoluble fiber: It does not dissolve in water and adds bulk to your stool. Insoluble fiber helps move food through your digestive system and prevent constipation.
How much fiber should adults get every day?
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2020–2025, the daily fiber goals for adults involve:
- Adults 19-30 years:
- females: 28 g
- males: 34 g
- Adults 31-50 years:
- females: 25 g
- males: 31 g
- Adults 51 years and older:
- females: 22 g
- males: 28 g
More than 90% of women and 97% of men do not meet these recommended intakes, the guidelines report.
How much fiber should children get every day?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans also lists the daily fiber goals for infants and toddlers:
- 0–11 months: Babies do not need to get fiber
- 12–23 months: 19 g
- 2–3 years: 14 g
And for older children:
- Children 4-8 years:
- females: 17 g
- males: 20 g
- Children 9-13 years:
- females: 22 g
- males: 25 g
- Children 14-17:
- females: 25 g
- males: 31 g
How much fiber should someone get for chronic constipation?
How much fiber you need to reduce constipation may differ based on factors including the cause of your symptoms. Only a healthcare professional may offer specific guidelines for your specific situation.
A 2022 systematic review concluded that taking at least 10 g per day of a fiber supplement can improve stool frequency and consistency as well as gut health, mainly after 4 weeks of this regimen.
A 2021 study also noted that eating more than 50 g of fiber daily offers no benefits and may cause side effects like bloating and gas.
If you have chronic constipation, a good first step is to check whether you currently meet the daily recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, listed above. If you do and your symptoms persist, consider consulting a healthcare professional to explore the underlying cause and best management options for you.
Conditions that may benefit from higher fiber consumption
An article from 2021 suggests that fiber may improve cholesterol levels by:
- decreasing cholesterol absorption in the small intestine
- encouraging the liver to use more cholesterol for bile acid production
- inhibiting liver cholesterol production
Through these mechanisms, fiber may decrease total cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. In turn, this may reduce your risk of heart events like heart attacks.
Chronic or significantly high cholesterol levels require medical intervention. The American Heart Association lists some options your healthcare professional may consider, such as:
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors:
- ezetimibe (Zetia)
- Bile acid sequestrants:
- PCSK9 inhibitors:
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- reducing glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), indicating better blood sugar management
- improving blood cholesterol levels
- improving insulin sensitivity
- reducing body weight
The authors recommend that individuals with diabetes increase their fiber intake by 15–35 g daily.
Fiber alone does not treat any type of diabetes, though. The American Diabetes Association explains that your healthcare professional will recommend medications to support diabetes management:
- GLP-1 receptor agonists:
- metformin (Riomet)
- Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors:
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- slowing stomach emptying
- improving feelings of fullness
- regulating gut hormones
- improving insulin responses to eating
Consequently, this may reduce how much food and how many calories you consume during your day.
Obesity may have different causes. If you have obesity, your healthcare professional can explore which causes apply to your situation and may recommend other options. If increased physical activity and a nutrient-dense diet alone do not help you lose weight, they may recommend medications.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) notes that weight loss medications may include:
- orlistat (Xenical)
- phentermine topiramate (Qsymia)
- naltrexone bupropion (Contrave)
- liraglutide (Saxenda)
- semaglutide (Wegovy)
- setmelanotide (Imcivree)
Natural fiber sources
You can increase your fiber intake by incorporating fiber-rich foods into your diet. A few examples are:
- Beans: A half-cup (113 g) of cooked beans can provide around 7–10 g of fiber.
- Whole grains: Oats, quinoa, and whole wheat products contain around 4–6 g of fiber per half-cup (45-g) serving.
- Fruits: Apples, pears, and berries offer 4–5 g of fiber per piece or serving.
- Vegetables: Broccoli, carrots, and sweet potatoes provide 2–3 g of fiber per half-cup (90-g) serving.
The 2021 study referenced earlier emphasizes when you start eating more fiber, it’s important to make sure you are:
- drinking enough water each day, ideally 51–68 gallons (1.5–2 liters)
- maintaining an active lifestyle
- not ignoring the urge to go to the bathroom
- increasing fiber intake gradually to avoid digestive discomfort
If you find it challenging to meet your daily fiber requirements through diet alone, fiber supplements may be a convenient solution. Consider asking your healthcare professional for the best supplements for your overall health needs.
A 2020 article lists some options:
- psyllium husk (Metamucil, Konsyl)
- methylcellulose (Citrucel)
- inulin (Fiber-Choice)
- wheat dextran (Benefiber)
Children need an average of 14–31 g of fiber per day, while adults may require between 22 and 34 g per day.
Natural sources of fiber include beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, while fiber supplements like psyllium husk and methylcellulose can help bridge the gap when dietary intake falls short.
Whatever your age or health status, getting enough fiber can improve your long-term health and well-being.
- Barber TM, et al. (2020). The health benefits of dietary fibre. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7589116/
- Bellini M, et al. (2021). Chronic constipation: Is a nutritional approach reasonable? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8538724/
- Cholesterol medications. (2020). https://professional.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/prevention-and-treatment-of-high-cholesterol-hyperlipidemia/cholesterol-medications
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. (2020). https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans-2020-2025.pdf
- Feingold KR, et al. (2021). The effect of diet on cardiovascular disease and lipid and lipoprotein levels. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK570127/
- Lua PL, et al. (2021). Complementary and alternative therapies for weight loss: A narrative review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8436299/
- Medications. (n.d.). http://main.diabetes.org/dforg/pdfs/2019/2019-cg-medications.pdf
- Prescription medications to treat overweight & obesity. (2023). https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/prescription-medications-treat-overweight-obesity
- Reynolds AN, et al. (2020). Dietary fibre and whole grains in diabetes management: Systematic review and meta-analyses. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7059907/
- Total dietary fiber. (n.d.). https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/?component=1079
- van der Schoot A, et al. (2022). The effect of fiber supplementation on chronic constipation in adults: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9535527/
- White N, et al. (2020). A guide to recommending fiber supplements for self-care. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7566180/