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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 CerealsServingCaloriesDietary Fiber (in grams)
Bran Flakes3/4 cup954.0
Raisin bran3/4 cup1154.0
Whole-wheat spaghetti1 cup1553.9
Wheat germ, plain1/4 cup1103.4
Bran muffin1 muffin1042.5
Oatmeal, cooked3/4 cup1101.6
Whole-wheat bread1 slice601.4
Spaghetti, regular1 cup1551.1
Popcorn, air-popped1 cup251.0
Rice, brown1/2 cup951.0
White bread1 slice800.4
Rice, white1/2 cup800.2
FruitsServingCaloriesDietary Fiber (in grams)
Apple1 medium803.5
Pear1/2 large603.1
Strawberries1 cup453.0
Prunes, dried3 prunes603.0
Orange1 medium602.6
Banana1 medium1052.4
Blueberries1/2 cup402.0
Grapefruit1/2401.6
Orange Juice1/2 cup550.5
Apple Juice1/2 cup550.4
VegetablesServingCaloriesDietary Fiber (in Grams)
Peas, green1/2 cup603.6
Corn1/2 cup852.9
Potato, with skin1 medium1062.5
Brussels sprouts1/2 cup302.3
Carrots1/2 cup252.3
Broccoli1/2 cup202.2
Sweet potato1/2 medium801.7
Green beans1/2 cup151.6
Bean sprouts (soy)1/2 cup151.5
Tomato1 medium201.5
Kale1/2 cup201.4
Cabbage1/2 cup151.4
Summer squash1/2 cup151.4
Spinach, raw1 cup101.2
Celery1/2 cup101.1
Lettuce, shredded1 cup50.9
Onions, sliced1/2 cup350.8
LegumesServingCaloriesDietary Fiber (in Grams)
Kidney beans1/2 cup1107.3
Navy beans1/2 cup1106.0
Lima beans1/2 cup654.5
Lentils1/2 cup953.7
NutsServingCaloriesDietary Fiber (in Grams)
Peanuts10 nuts1051.4
Almonds10 nuts801.1

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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.