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Fiber in Your Diet

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A diet high in fiber is essential for a successful bowel program. Fiber helps the body’s digestive system work well and keeps food moving through the digestive tract.

Benefits of Fiber

Because of the way fiber works in your body, it can help prevent and/or treat:

  • Constipation – When bowel movements are difficult and irregular because the stool has become really hard and compact due to not enough fiber and or water.
  • Diverticulosis – When abnormal sacs bulge from the lining of the colon.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome – A condition affecting the muscles lining the intestines causing periods of constipation and diarrhea.
  • Hemorrhoids – Swollen veins of the rectum.

Fiber absorbs water and expands like a sponge. Fiber makes stool softer and larger which causes the stool to pass through your system more quickly and with less strain.

Fiber also lowers the risk of diabetes and heart disease and aids in weight loss and blood sugar control.

Types of Fiber

Insoluble Fiber:

  • Found in: wheat bran, vegetables, whole grains
  • Speeds up digestion (helps with constipation)

Soluble Fiber:

  • Found in: oats, barley, lentils, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, psyllium
  • Slows digestion (helps with diarrhea)
  • Lowers LDL and total cholesterol

How much should I eat?

25-35 grams of fiber per day is recommended but no more than 35 grams per day. Increase fiber gradually over several months to prevent digestive discomfort and intestinal gas. Fiber supplements such as Benefiber, Metamucil or Fibercon can be used if you’re unable to get fiber by diet. When you increase the fiber in your diet, you must also increase your fluid intake. Fiber pulls fluids from your body and if fluid is not replaced, it could lead to constipation.

The following is a list of foods you will find useful to increase fiber in your diet

Breads and Cereals Serving Calories Dietary Fiber (in grams)
Bran Flakes 3/4 cup 95 4.0
Raisin bran 3/4 cup 115 4.0
Whole-wheat spaghetti 1 cup 155 3.9
Wheat germ, plain 1/4 cup 110 3.4
Bran muffin 1 muffin 104 2.5
Oatmeal, cooked 3/4 cup 110 1.6
Whole-wheat bread 1 slice 60 1.4
Spaghetti, regular 1 cup 155 1.1
Popcorn, air-popped 1 cup 25 1.0
Rice, brown 1/2 cup 95 1.0
White bread 1 slice 80 0.4
Rice, white 1/2 cup 80 0.2
Fruits Serving Calories Dietary Fiber (in grams)
Apple 1 medium 80 3.5
Pear 1/2 large 60 3.1
Strawberries 1 cup 45 3.0
Prunes, dried 3 prunes 60 3.0
Orange 1 medium 60 2.6
Banana 1 medium 105 2.4
Blueberries 1/2 cup 40 2.0
Grapefruit 1/2 40 1.6
Orange Juice 1/2 cup 55 0.5
Apple Juice 1/2 cup 55 0.4
Vegetables Serving Calories Dietary Fiber (in Grams)
Peas, green 1/2 cup 60 3.6
Corn 1/2 cup 85 2.9
Potato, with skin 1 medium 106 2.5
Brussels sprouts 1/2 cup 30 2.3
Carrots 1/2 cup 25 2.3
Broccoli 1/2 cup 20 2.2
Sweet potato 1/2 medium 80 1.7
Green beans 1/2 cup 15 1.6
Bean sprouts (soy) 1/2 cup 15 1.5
Tomato 1 medium 20 1.5
Kale 1/2 cup 20 1.4
Cabbage 1/2 cup 15 1.4
Summer squash 1/2 cup 15 1.4
Spinach, raw 1 cup 10 1.2
Celery 1/2 cup 10 1.1
Lettuce, shredded 1 cup 5 0.9
Onions, sliced 1/2 cup 35 0.8
Legumes Serving Calories Dietary Fiber (in Grams)
Kidney beans 1/2 cup 110 7.3
Navy beans 1/2 cup 110 6.0
Lima beans 1/2 cup 65 4.5
Lentils 1/2 cup 95 3.7
Nuts Serving Calories Dietary Fiber (in Grams)
Peanuts 10 nuts 105 1.4
Almonds 10 nuts 80 1.1

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Revised: 1/2015

Source: NIH Publication NO. 87-2878, revised May 1987. Fiber values may differ from other sources because of differences in analytic methods.

This resource is provided as a courtesy of Craig Hospital. For more information, contact the Craig Hospital Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-247-0257.

Disclaimer: The content in this document is intended for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. No professional relationship is implied or otherwise established by reading this document. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Many of the resources references are not affiliated with Craig Hospital. Craig Hospital assumes no liability for any third party material or for any action or inaction taken as a result of any content or any suggestions made in this document and should not be relied upon without independent investigation. The information on this page is a public service provided by Craig Hospital and in no way represents a recommendation or endorsement by Craig Hospital.