How dietary fiber can benefit your pregnancy digestion
Eating fiber-rich foods is an important part of maintaining your digestive health, especially when you’re pregnant. The dietary reference intake (DRI) for women is 28 grams of dietary fiber daily. However, the average American consumes only 14 grams of fiber a day, according to the 2001–2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
It might seem strange that fiber plays such an important role in digestive health. It’s not a source of energy. It cannot actually be digested. But fiber can benefit your pregnancy in multiple ways.
Fiber helps keep pregnancy weight gain under control
While you should be gaining weight throughout your pregnancy, you don’t want to gain too much weight. High-fiber foods are a great way to help you feel fuller for longer, with fewer calories. This may help you manage your pregnancy weight gain more effectively. In fact, National Institute of Health studies have shown that people with high-fiber diets typically eat about 10% fewer calories.1
Fiber helps prevent constipation during pregnancy
Constipation is one of the most common digestive symptoms during pregnancy. Eating the recommended amount of dietary fiber is the best way to help prevent constipation. For more information, learn how nutrition can help relieve pregnancy-related constipation.
Fiber helps regulate your blood sugar during pregnancy
Getting the right amount of fiber in your daily diet can slow the absorption of food, helping to prevent blood sugar from rising too quickly.
Fiber helps reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease during pregnancy
Certain types of fiber help lower low-density cholesterol (the bad type) by trapping cholesterol-rich bile acids in the digestive system, which helps prevent this cholesterol from being absorbed. High cholesterol can lead to complications such as atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.
How to add fiber to your pregnancy diet
It's best to increase your fiber intake gradually, so your body can adjust. Add fiber slowly and throughout six small meals or snacks a day.
You can find fiber in a variety of foods. Experts say that the type of fiber you eat is less important than making sure you get enough overall. However, getting fiber from natural food sources is always best. Try eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes to add a mix of various fibers, as well as a wide range of nutrients to your diet.