Fiber is a substance in foods that comes from plants. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Fiber helps stool stay soft so it moves smoothly through the colon. Liquids such as water and juice help fiber to be more effective.

Older adults commonly do not get enough fiber in their diets. They may lose interest in eating because food does not taste the same as it once did, they do not feel hungry as often, they do not want to cook, or they have problems with chewing or swallowing. These factors may lead an older adult to choose foods that are quick to make or buy, such as fast foods or prepared foods, which are often low in fiber.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends consuming 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day for adults and “age plus five” grams for children. A 7-year-old child, for example, should get “7 plus five,” or 12, grams of fiber a day. American adults consume only 15 grams a day on average. Fiber should be added to the diet slowly to avoid bloating.