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High Fiber Diet

Why is fiber important?

We suggest that a diet high in fiber is greatly beneficial for your health.  It is known that a diet high in fiber lowers cholesterol, and it is believed that a high fiber diet prevents colon polyps and complications such as diverticulitis.  It is beneficial with those with diabetes.  Also, it helps to regulate bowel movements.  It is also believed to prevent certain types of cancer.  Many people avoid constipation and worsening of hemorrhoid problems with fiber.

How much fiber?

Most Americans do not eat enough fiber in their diets—only about a third of the recommended amount.  The Dietary Reference Intake for men is 30-38 grams of fiber a day, for women is 21-25 grams a day, and for pregnant or lactating women is 28-29 grams a day.

How do I add fiber to my diet?

First, it is important to add fiber slowly as adding too quickly can lead to discomfort, bloating, and gas.  Increase the amount of fiber at no more than 5 grams a day (such as 2 slices of whole wheat bread, 2 servings of most fruits or vegetables, or a bowl of cereal with fiber).  It is very important to understand that instead of adding fiber to your diet, you must substitute fiber in your diet for the foods you may be eating.  Many of the foods high in fiber can be very filling and allow a feeling of being full.  Therefore, many people can actually lose weight by changing their diet to foods high in fiber and watching their portions.  These foods are also rich in nutrients that our bodies need as well.

Also, it is very important to increase your fluid intake to 6-8 cups a day of water, juice, or non-caffeinated drinks.

What foods are high in fiber?

Fiber is categorized as soluble and insoluble.  Both are good for you.   It is important to have a variety and both types.  Also, it is best to add fiber by the foods we eat instead of relying on supplements and pills to meet the requirements alone. 

Soluble Fiber: Oatmeal, oat bran, nuts and seeds, most fruits (such as strawberries, apples, pears, blueberries, kiwis), dry beans and peas

Insoluble fiber: whole wheat bread, whole grain cereals, most vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, beets, brussel sprouts, carrots, white potatoes with the skin, eggplant, squash), fruits, couscous, bulgur, seeds

Where can I learn more?

Helpful websites include: www.fruitsand veggiesmatter.gov and ChooseMyPlate.gov

Adapted from Dietary Reference Intakes: Recommend Intakes for Individuals, National Academy of Sciences. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board, 3/17/2008.

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