Most of us don’t get enough fiber each day.
Maybe we aren’t sure how much is enough or which foods will add fiber to our plate.
It is especially important for seniors to include fiber in their diet, not only to maintain bowel health but also to reduce the risk of developing or worsening conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease and colon cancer.
Adequate fiber can help lower cholesterol in our blood.
Seniors (and everyone over 50 years old) need about 30 grams for men and for 21 grams for women per day.
That could involve planning plus label reading to get enough fiber each day.
Let’s Add Fiber
Fiber has many benefits in addition to keeping bowels regular.
Fiber also makes bowel movements easier to pass, therefore reducing hemorrhoids, lowers cholesterol, helps maintain weight, slows absorption of sugar, thereby maintaining blood sugar levels, and keeps you feeling full longer.
Here are some ideas to increase the fiber in your senior’s diet:
- Choose a high-fiber breakfast cereal — 5 or more grams of fiber per serving or add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran, granola bites or ground flax seed to your favorite cereal.
- Switch to whole grains. Look for breads that list whole wheat or whole-wheat flour as the first ingredient on the label and have at least 2-3 grams of dietary fiber per serving slice. Experiment with brown rice, wild rice, barley, and whole-wheat pasta. Don’t forget whole grain dinner rolls or pita for sandwiches. Other whole grains include quinoa, popcorn, oats, and barley.
- Mix veggies into the meal. Add pre-cut fresh or frozen vegetables to soups and sauces. For example, mix chopped frozen broccoli into prepared spaghetti sauce or toss fresh baby carrots into stews.
- Eat more beans, peas and lentils. Add kidney beans to canned soup or toss on a green salad. Add beans to other foods such as casseroles in pureed form. Use a variety of beans as a side dish.
- Eat fruit at every meal. Apples, bananas, oranges, pears and berries are good sources of fiber. Sprinkle dried fruits on to cereals, yogurts, salads or other foods. Substitute the whole fruit instead of a glass of fruit juice.
- Make snacks count. Fresh and dried fruit, raw vegetables, nuts and low-fat popcorn are all good choices.
- Leave the skins on! Whether it is fruit or vegetables, the skins add fiber.
- Add vegetables to your sandwich – slice of tomato, lettuce, peppers, cucumbers or onions.
Try to help your senior include more of these items in his or her diet every day.
Remember they need to get enough water to drink when increasing the fiber in their diet to keep things moving regularly — 8 glasses a day will help!
Here are a few more articles about our senior’s gut health that you might find informative: