Seniors Need More Fiber in Their Diets and Here’s How to Get It

A significant number of senior women and men are not getting enough fiber in their diets. Nearly everyone has heard that the right amount of fiber in your diet “keeps you regular.” In addition to contributing to digestive health, fiber does much, much more. This includes:

  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Decreasing blood pressure
  • Managing blood sugar
  • Reducing the risk of a certain type of cancer:
  • Colon
  • Breast
  • Prostate
  • Reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Balancing hormones
  • Improving mood

(Source: The Fiber Effect: Stop Counting Calories and Start Counting Fiber for Better Health by Nichole Dandrea)

There are nine practical ways in which you can get more fiber into your diet, which we discuss in this article:

  • Drink smoothies
  • Eat an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Add veggies to your eggs
  • Keep the skin on
  • Add seeds
  • Select whole grains
  • Eat more beans
  • Spruce up your pasta
  • Aim for three colors for each meal

How Much Fiber do You Need?

If you are like many – if not most – women and men in their senior years, you may be somewhat unsure how much fiber you need in your diet. According to the Institute of Medicine:

  • Men over 50 generally need to consume at least 30 grams of fiber daily
  • Women over 50 generally need to eat at least 21 grams of fiber each day
  • Unfortunately, most Americans are getting only between 10 to 15 grams of fiber daily

We now turn to the nine ways you can increase your fiber consumption.

Drink Smoothies

Nutritionists recommend that you banish juices from your diet as a general rule. Most juices contain ungodly amounts of sugar. The recommendation is that you substitute healthy smoothies for juices.

According to Jen Hernandez, the founder of Plant-Powered Kidneys, you’ll benefit from their fiber content by blending whole fruits and veggies together. Hernandez explains: “Frozen berries make for an easy smoothie ingredient. Blend with some yogurt and milk of choice, and you have a nutritious and filling beverage that will help control blood sugars rather than spike them.”

Eat an Abundance of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Nutritionists maintain that most people do not eat enough fresh fruit and vegetables. In fact, many individuals, including seniors, eat far, far less fresh fruit and vegetables than they need to maintain a healthy diet and overall wellness.

Fresh fruits and vegetables really do enhance your diet significantly, including adding a considerable amount of fiber. For example, one cup of berries has approximately 8 grams of fiber. One medium pear has roughly 6 grams of fiber. A cup of cooked Brussels sprouts contains 5 grams. “Eat oatmeal with nuts and fresh fruit like pears, blueberries or strawberries or Greek yogurt with a little fruit for a delicious filling snack,” explains Shavonne Morrison. Morrison is a registered dietitian and nutrition blogger.

Add Veggies to Your Eggs

Another way in which you can enhance your fiber intake is to add veggies to your eggs. For example, consider adding some tomatoes, mushrooms, and broccoli. According to Brenda Peralta, a registered dietitian in San Jose, California, taking this step will increase the fiber content and enhance the flavor of your eggs at the same time. You should also consider topping off your omelet or egg scramble with some avocado. Half of an avocado contains 5 grams of fiber.

Keep the Skin On

A good percentage of seniors do not eat sweet potato or white potato skins. Nutritionists maintain that this is a mistake.

Clean your potatoes thoroughly and make sure you eat the skins after you have prepared them. One medium-sized baked white potato including the skin contains about 4 grams of all-important fiber.

Add Seeds

Certain types of seeds can make a senior’s diet healthier. These seeds can be added to a variety of food items that include:

  • Smoothies
  • Baked goods
  • Salads
  • Oatmeal
  • Casseroles

Seeds that are ideally suited as additives to enhance fiber intake for seniors include:

  • Chia seeds
  • Ground flax seeds
  • Hemp hearts

Select Whole Grains

One area in which seniors as a group are doing fairly well is in incorporating whole grains into their diets. With that said, most seniors really can do even more when it comes to electing whole grains as a means of adding more fiber to their diets.

An example of where improvements can be made for many seniors is in selecting brown rice over white rice at mealtime. You can get about 1.6 grams of fiber in a 3.5-ounce serving of brown rice compared to 0.4 grams in a comparable serving of white rice. You will also want to consider making a switch to whole-wheat pasta as well.

Eat More Beans

Seniors would do well to add more beans to their diets. Beans are generally an inexpensive and convenient way to increase fiber intake. Beans of different types can be added to dishes you may already enjoy. For example, you can add black beans (drained and rinsed) to ground turkey or ground beef as something of a meat extender. This makes an ideal start for taco night.  Beans can also be easily added to salads and soups.

Spruce Up Your Pasta

“Blend veggies into sauces,” says Hernandez. “Cooked carrots are soft, making them easy to blend into a tomato or marinara sauce.” One cup of cooked carrot slices provides 4-5 grams of fiber alone. You can also toss some pasta with spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, or red peppers.

Aim for Three Colors for Each Meal

“Take a look at your meal to see if you have at least three plant-based colors,” says Dandrea. If you eat a bowl of oatmeal every morning, she says to ask yourself, “what else can you add to it to boost flavor, texture, and fiber?” “Consider adding blueberries, walnuts, and hemp seeds (white and tan count as colors when it comes to fiber!),” says Dandrea. If you enjoy tacos, you could add some avocado, salsa, and beans.