Overall, findings from numerous studies have been promising, but teasing out fiber’s protective effect from other factors is difficult. First of all, fiber isn’t consumed in isolation. High-fiber foods tend to be rich in other potentially protective elements, such as antioxidants, cholesterol lowering sterols, and other phyto-chemicals. Lots of studies show the health benefits of whole grains, fruits vegetables, and legumes, but how much this can be attributed to their fiber is unknown. Second, people who eat a high-fiber diet tend to have other good health habits, such as exercising regularly and not smoking. Which may lower their risk of colon cancer and other illnesses. Third, high-fiber foods may be beneficial simply because they tend to be low in fat and calories and often replace meats and other fatty or sugary foods. How much fiber diet daily?
Dietary experts recommend 14 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories – for example, 21 grams for someone eating 1,500 calories a day, or 35 grams for someone eating 2,500 calories. Research suggests that people with diabetes should aim for even more fiber – 15 to 25 grams per 1000 calories. Eat a variety of foods to ensure that you get a mix of fiber compounds. Choose whole grains over refined. Whole fruits over juices; compare food labels for products with higher amounts.
What about fiber supplements?
Food is preferable. It’s not clear if supplements provide the same health benefits as fiber-rich foods, which contain many important nutrients and phytochemicals. None the less, supplements are a way to get additional fiber – even though they usually provide only small amounts per serving. Supplements come as powers, capsules, chewable tablets, wafers, and even cookies, and supply different types of fiber. Psyllium is the most common fiber supplement, used also as a laxative and to lower cholesterol. Some fiber supplements may interfere with prescription medications – so check with your doctor or pharmacist.
Add fiber gradually to your diet to allow your digestive system to adjust – and drink more fluids because fiber absorbs water; otherwise, the fiber could actually make you constipated. Some types of fiber including psyllium and insulin, can worsen bloating, gas and abdominal discomfort in some people with irritable bowl syndrome.
What about fiber diet helps?
Even if fiber does not help prevent colon cancer (the jury is still out), there’s good evidence it helps protects against heart disease and type 2 diabetes and helps you stay regular; it may also help with weight control. Moreover, the fiber in foods tends to keep good company with many vitamins, minerals, and healthful phytochemicals, which add further health benefits.
Sources of fiber
- Aim for nine servings of fruits and vegetables (including beans) a day, along with three servings of whole grains.
- Choose a high fiber cereal (at least 5 grams of fiber per serving), such as bran flakes. Or mix a high-fiber cold cereal with a favorite lower-fiber cereal. Eat oatmeal and other whole-grain hot cereals.
- But “100% whole grain” breads, breakfast cereals, crackers, and pastas. Opt for brown rice. Add a handful of cooked barley, jowar, corn or whole wheat grains to a green salad for a chewy texture and more filling meal.
- Use whole-wheat or other whole-grain flour for bread, chapattis, and cakes.
- Add wheat germ, wheat brain, oat brain, nuts ground flax-seeds, or other seeds to yogurt, cereals, and baked goods.
- Snack on popcorn (but watch out for added fat and sodium).
- Eat more beans – in side dishes, stop salads and pasta, with rice, chapatti. No time to soak and pressure cook rajma? Choose canned beans. Serve hummus and bean dips instead of cream cheese with toast.
- Top cereals and yogurts with berries and other fruits.
- Eat whole fruit instead of juice.
- Eat the skins of potatoes and other vegetables and fruits.
- Snack on dried fruit, such as apricots and dried plums (prunes), which are concentrated sources of fiber.
For more details about fiber health benefits see Fiber Sources and Benefits.