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
- Found in: wheat bran, vegetables, whole grains
- Speeds up digestion (helps with constipation)
- 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)|
|Prunes, dried||3 prunes||60||3.0|
|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|
|Potato, with skin||1 medium||106||2.5|
|Brussels sprouts||1/2 cup||30||2.3|
|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|
|Summer squash||1/2 cup||15||1.4|
|Spinach, raw||1 cup||10||1.2|
|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|
|Nuts||Serving||Calories||Dietary Fiber (in Grams)|
Source: NIH Publication NO. 87-2878, revised May 1987. Fiber values may differ from other sources because of differences in analytic methods.