Find all of the information you need on fiber, in one place.
Getting Enough?Men and women of all ages need different amounts of fiber. Chances are you aren't getting enough - find out here.
Fiber Rich FoodsAdding more fiber to your diet is easy. Visit this section to see what fiber rich foods to incorporate into your daily routine.
Chances are you're not getting the amount of fiber you need in your diet. Most of us are eating only half of the U.S. government's recommendation of 14 grams per 1,000 calories consumed. In this world of overly processed and overly packaged foods, that's not surprising.
Fiber used to be considered just filler, and we didn't worry when we stripped wheat off its bran to make bread and other highly processed foods like cereal and crackers. Over the past several years, research is showing why we may want to eat more of it. In fact, the research is so compelling that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires the amount of fiber in a product to be stated on the food nutrition label and has allowed health claims on packages that link fiber to heart-disease and cancer prevention.
Dietary fiber is found only in plant foods. Though it is considered a carbohydrate, it doesn't get digested and isn't part of the calorie count of the other carbohydrates we get. Fiber is divided into two categories, soluble and insoluble. Each has different health benefits. If you focus on increasing your total daily fiber intake you needn't worry which kind you're getting. With a variety of high-fiber foods, you'll be getting adequate amounts of both, naturally.
No matter how good your health is you can generally benefit from weaving more fiber into your diet:
Digestive health. Fiber helps to maintain regularity by adding bulk to stools and drawing water into the digestive track. It stimulates the nerves in the intestine, causing contractions of the colon and moving waste through quickly. The accelerated transit time and increased bulk helps to prevent diverticulitis, hemorrhoids and constipation. Read more.
Heart disease. High fiber intake is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. Certain foods are particularly beneficial, including legumes, oats, and barley. These foods help to lower blood cholesterol levels thereby decreasing heart disease risk. Diets high in fiber also help to lower blood pressure. High blood pressure directly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Read more.
Cancer. Along with a low-fat diet, a high-fiber intake may reduce the risk of colon and rectal cancer. There are conflicting studies. Some show no link, but some well-researched studies do show a connection. The confusion may be that it's too hard to disentangle a high-fiber diet from other diet and lifestyle factors. There is evidence of a relationship between a high-fiber diet and reduced risk of breast cancer, but the reasons are unclear. Regardless of the conclusiveness of the evidence, it's safe, and makes sense, to eat a high-fiber diet as insurance.
Weight loss. Women who had the higher fiber diets had a lower body mass index. It may be that fiber helps to curb appetite, or it may interfere with fat absorption, thus reducing calorie intake. Fiber also provides bulk in your stomach, making you feel full on fewer calories, so you tend to eat less. Because fiber takes time to digest, it allows that full feeling to last. High fiber foods tend to be less energy dense, meaning they contain fewer calories for the same volume of food. Read more.
Diabetes. Many people with diabetes may be advised by their doctor to consume about 40 grams of fiber a day, more than the recommended amount for the general public. However, there are a few conditions that may require a patient to restrict intake of fiber, such as gastroparesis, a condition involving damage to stomach nerves. Read more.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Many people, and women especially, suffer from IBS. It's a condition characterized by cramps, bloating, gas, bouts of diarrhea and constipation. A poor diet, anxiety, and certain medications can contribute to IBS. A diet high in fiber is one mechanism to help control the unpleasant symptoms. Read more.