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High Fiber Diet

Dietary Fiber – What is it?

Dietary fiber can be defined as the part of a plant that cannot be digested by humans. Fiber is what gives plants their strength and structure. Fiber is found in grains, cereals, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes (dried beans, peas and lentils).

Soluble and Insoluble Fiber:

There are two kinds of fiber and most sources of fiber contain a mixture of both types. Both help your body, but in different ways, so it’s best to eat a variety of high fiber foods.Soluble fiber absorbs water, and becomes bulky in the stomach and works throughout the intestinal tract.

Soluble fiber promotes good intestinal health by increasing bowel motility and enhances transit through the intestinal tract. Research suggests that increasing soluble fiber in the diet plays an important role in decreasing the incidence of colon cancer, controlling blood cholesterol levels, improving the control of diabetes, and aiding in weight control.

Insoluble fiber absorbs little water and adds bulk only in the lower intestine. Although insoluble fiber is less effective than soluble fiber at promoting good bowel health, insoluble fiber is still important in your diet because it improves the transit time necessary to move fecal material through the colon.

Who Needs to Increase Dietary Fiber?

While there is no RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for dietary fiber, the National Cancer Institute has recommended eating 25 to 35 grams of fiber a day. Most Americans consume only 10 to 15 grams of fiber per day. Thus, most people are 15 to 20 grams short of the daily fiber goal.

Experts urge healthy individuals to add fiber through a well-balanced diet containing high fiber foods (both soluble and insoluble sources of fiber). Sometimes that is difficult to do even for the most healthy and disciplined eaters. Twenty-five to 35 grams of fiber are approximately equivalent to nine to 13 apples per day or 12 bowls of raisin bran or 12 to 16 slices of whole wheat bread. Fiber supplements can be the way to rectify the lack of fiber in an otherwise healthy diet.

How Can I Increase My Fiber Intake?

In conjunction with increasing the amount of fiber in the diet, it is also recommended to decrease fat intake. You can do this with diet alone or with diet and a fiber supplement. When you decide to increase the amount of fiber in your diet, it is advisable to increase the level slowly. Too much fiber all at once may cause bloating, flatulence (gas) and/or cramping. When fiber-rich foods and/or fiber supplements are added to the diet gradually, the body will adjust more easily, enabling the digestive system to work smoothly and comfortably.

Click HERE to learn about what foods are high in fiber.
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