A good diet should contain approximately 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day. The average American eats less than half of that.
Getting more fiber in your diet doesn't have to mean a drastic change. In fact, it's best to start slowly, in order to avoid constipation from getting too much fiber all at once. Many fiber-depleted foods in the diet can be replaced by high-fiber alternatives.
Fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber include:
Here are other good sources of fiber:
Need To Know:
It's important to drink more fluids when you increase the amount of fiber you eat. You should drink at least eight glasses of water a day, especially when increasing your fiber intake.
Most everyday low-fiber foods have a higher-fiber alternative:
Some fiber-depleted foods
Corn flakes, crispy rice cereal
Cakes, biscuits, sweets
Shredded wheat, puffed wheat
Fresh fruit, stewed fruit
Dried fruit, nuts, raw carrots, celery
Nut butters (cashew, almond, etc.)
Studies have shown that a high-fiber diet has widespread health benefits. And unlike many other treatments, fiber in the diet has no danger of adverse reactions, toxicity, or dangerous side effects.
Here's some advice on incorporating more fiber in your diet:
It's best to start slowly, especially if you tend to become constipated. Introduce high-fiber foods gradually, over two to four weeks. Don't start a high-fiber diet overnight!
Eat a wide variety of plant foods (foods that come from plants, as opposed to meats or dairy products). Different fibers do different jobs in the body.
Choose foods whose fiber content has not been depleted through processing.
Read food labels to learn how much fiber is contained in the various foods you eat.
Drink plenty of water - at least eight glasses a day.
Some medical conditions do not benefit from a high-fiber diet. If you are being treated for a health disorder, check with your doctor before adding fiber to your diet.
Raw bran increases the excretion into the stools of calcium, iron, and zinc. For most people eating a good balanced diet, this is of no consequence. But theoretically, it might lead to depletion of these minerals in pregnant and breast-feeding women, and in people with small appetites. Such people should take calcium supplements or extra milk or cheese if they are taking bran regularly.