What Is Fiber? Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body doesn't digest (break down). Dietary fiber is found in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Fiber can be soluble or insoluble: Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It helps lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar control. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It helps with constipation. Both kinds of fiber are important parts of a healthy diet. What Are the Benefits of Fiber? A diet high in fiber: helps prevent or relieve constipation increases feelings of fullness, which may help with weight control lowers cholesterol helps prevent heart disease and diabetes may lower the chances of getting some types of cancer How Much Fiber Do Kids Need? One way to estimate how much fiber your child needs is to take your child's age and add 5 or 10 to it. For example: A 5-year-old should get about 10–15 grams (g) of fiber every day. A 10-year old should get 15–20 grams (g) of fiber a day. A 15-year-old should get 20–25 grams (g) of fiber a day. What Are Good Sources of Fiber? Foods that are naturally high in fiber, include: whole grains, such as 100% whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal cooked dried beans, such as black beans, lentils, and split peas fruit and vegetables nuts and seeds It is best for kids to get their fiber directly from foods rather than from pills or other supplements. Foods have nutrients and vitamins that are important for health. If your doctor recommends that your child take a fiber supplement, give it as directed. Making Fiber Part of Your Family's Diet Here are some tips to get more fiber in your family's diet: Read nutrition labels to find out how much fiber is in foods. Choose foods with 3 grams of fiber or more. Choose whole grains instead of refined grains. For example, try brown rice instead of white rice, or whole-grain pasta instead of regular pasta. Choose whole fruit instead of juice. Include fruit and vegetables with every meal. Aim for 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. To add more fiber to meals and snacks: Top yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal with fruit and nuts. Put veggies, like lettuce, tomato, or avocado, on sandwiches. Add beans to soups and salads. Add bran to baked goods. Offer air-popped popcorn, whole-grain crackers, fruit, or vegetables as healthy snack options. What Else Should I Know? Add fiber to the diet slowly over a few weeks. Adding too much fiber too quickly can cause bloating, gas, and/or cramps. Kids should drink plenty of water, which helps move fiber through the intestines. Talk to your doctor if your child has diarrhea, constipation, belly pain, or if you have questions or concerns about your family's diet. Back to Articles Related Articles First Aid: Constipation Constipation is when a child has fewer bowel movements than usual. Ease constipation with the three Fs: fluid, fiber, and fitness. Read More Constipation Constipation is a very common problem that usually happens because a person's diet doesn't include enough fluids and fiber. In most cases, making simple changes can help you feel better. Read More Digestive System Most people think digestion begins when you first put food in your mouth. But the digestive process actually starts even before the food hits your taste buds. Read More Healthy Food Shopping What you put in the grocery cart can affect your child's health and attitude toward nutritious food. Read More Smart Supermarket Shopping You don't need to be a dietitian to figure out how to make healthy food choices. Before grabbing a shopping cart and heading for the aisles, read this article to make grocery shopping a snap. Read More Word! Fiber Foods with fiber are really good for you and your bowels! Read More Stomachaches Ugh. Bellyaches. Find out what causes tummy trouble in this article for kids. Read More Go, Slow, and Whoa! A Kid's Guide to Eating Right Want to eat healthier? It's easy when you learn the difference between Go, Slow, and Whoa foods! Read More Figuring Out Food Labels Find out how to make healthy food choices for your family by reading food labels. Read More Food Labels Look at any packaged food and you'll see the food label. This nutrition facts label gives the lowdown on everything from calories to cholesterol. Read more about food labels. Read More Your Child's Weight "What's the right weight for my child?" is one of the most common questions parents have. It seems like a simple one, but it's not always easy to answer. Read More Digestive System The digestive process starts even before the first bite of food. Find out more about the digestive system and how our bodies break down and absorb the food we eat. Read More Constipation Constipation is a very common problem among kids, and it usually occurs because a child's diet doesn't include enough fluids and fiber. In most cases, simple changes can help kids go. Read More Constipation If you aren't pooping like usual, you could be constipated. Read More Fiber Some of the best and most delicious foods have loads of fiber. Find out how to get your fill of fiber! Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.