As you grow old, your body changes. Your digestion system slows down and doesn’t work as efficiently as it used to. The inefficient digestion system causes constipation, and your body doesn’t absorb nutrients effectively as well. This leads to nutrient deficiency. Constipation & nutrient deficiency are two big problems for seniors.
The best natural way to keep your digestive system healthy is adding dietary fiber to daily diet. Read here why & how seniors can increase their fiber intake.
Importance Of Fiber in a Senior Citizen’s Diet
Let us first see why older adults/elderly people should add more fiber (commonly referred to as roughage) to their daily diet.
Besides improving your digestive system, fiber helps rid your body of toxins & cholesterol. Increasing fiber in your daily diet also controls glucose levels in the blood, lowers the risk of heart-related problems, diabetes, bowel cancer, and can even help reduce weight.
How Much Fiber Should An Elderly Person Have A Day?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture a women over 50 require 21 grams of dietary fiber a day; and men over 50 require 30 grams as part of a healthy balanced diet. Too much or not enough fiber, over time, can cause health issues. To know why, it’s helpful to understand how fiber works in your body.
Note: Children under the age of 16 don’t need as much fiber in their diet as older teenagers and adults.
How Fiber Works In Your Body?
Soluble Fiber: It’s contained in vegetables, fruits and oats. Soluble Fiber absorbs water in the intestines and converts into gel. As it passes through your digestive tract, this gel draws & drags toxins, debris and bile out of the body.
Insoluble Fiber: It’s contained in wheat bran, potatoes, beans and nuts. Unlike soluble fiber, it does not dissolve in water. Rather, it works as a scrub brush, cleaning the intestines and facilitating movement through the digestive tract.
Excessive fiber in your diet (and not enough water) will lead to slowing down of the digestive system, and is main cause for constipation, gas, bloating and abdominal pain. And, too little fiber in diet inhibits your body from moving toxins, cholesterol or other unhealthy substances through the body, causing constipation and bloating. Without enough fiber to help digestion, we may suffer from high sugar level, weight gain and frequent hunger pangs – even after we eat.
High Fiber Foods For the Elderly – Tips To Increase Fiber Intake
Let us see now: “What is a good source of fiber for the elderly?”
It’s important to eat fiber from a variety of sources so that your body gets a combination of both soluble and insoluble fibers.
To increase your fiber intake, choose:
(i) Higher-fiber breakfast whole grain cereal.
(ii) Whole grain breads, and other wholegrain options such as whole-wheat pasta, bulgur wheat or brown rice instead of white.
(iii) Go for potatoes with their skins on, such as a baked potato or boiled new potatoes.
(iv) Eat whole fruits instead of drinking juice.
(v) Add pulses like chickpeas, lentils, kidney bean or any other your favorite bean to curries, soups stews and salads.
(vi) Try to eat plenty of vegetables with meals, either added to curries, stews or sauces or as a side dish.
(vii) For snacks, eat whole-wheat crackers, rye crackers, unsalted nuts or seeds fresh fruit and vegetable sticks.
(viii) Use whole-wheat flour in baking.
(ix) Toss beans, grated carrots, dried fruits and nuts into salads
(x) Add sliced fruit on top of yogurt or cereal.
(xi) Sprinkle flaxseed over soup, yogurt, cereal or salad or yogurt.
Important Note: The above tips will help you increase fiber in your daily diet. But make sure to begin slowly because suddenly adding fiber to your diet too quickly is not good for you. Incorporate a few fiber rich foods in your diet gradually until you reach your goal. Also make sure to drink more water, as it will help fiber moving through your digestive tract. Add a variety of fiber rich foods to obtain all the nutrients that your body needs. Incorporating fiber in every meal will help meet your everyday fiber needs in a healthy way.
Useful Related Post: Best High Fiber Foods
Enjoy These Fiber-Rich Food Ideas
With some of the following easy menu additions, it will not be difficult to include more fiber in your diet. Try one of these ideas:
Fiber At Breakfast
2 thick slices of whole-meal toasted bread (6.5 gram of fiber) topped with 1 sliced banana (1.4 gram) and a small glass of fruit smoothie drink (1.5 gram) will provide you about 9.4 gram of fiber.
Fiber At Lunch
A baked jacket potato with the skin on (2.6 gram) with a 200 gram portion of low-sugar and low-salt baked beans in tomato sauce (9.8 gram) followed by an apple (1.2 gram) will provide about 13.6 gram of fiber.
Fiber At Dinner
Tomato based mixed vegetable curry cooked with spices & onion (3.3 gram) with whole grain brown rice (2.8 gram) followed by a lower fat & lower sugar fruit yogurt (0.4 gram) will provide about 6.5 gram of fiber.
Fiber As Snack During the Day
A small handful of unsalted nuts (without added sugar) like plain almonds will provide about 3 gram of fiber.
Total: About 32.5 gram of fiber
Note: The above example is just to give you only an idea because the amount of fiber in a food will depend on how it is prepared & how much of it you eat.