COVID-19 Updates: Learn the latest on coronavirus in our community

gradient background

Gastroenterology

Service

High Fiber Diet

All fiber comes from plants in the form of vegetables and grains. Fiber along with adequate fluid intake is important for proper GI functioning and overall health.

Benefits of a High Fiber Diet

Bowel Regularity

A high fiber diet promotes regularity with a softer, bulkier and regular stool pattern. It decreases your chance of constipation and normalizes bower movements. This decreases the chance of hemorrhoids, diverticulosis and perhaps colon cancer.

If you have loose stools, fiber may help to solidify the stool because if absorbs water and adds bulk to the stool.

Cholesterol and Reduced Triglycerides

The soluble fibers may help reduce cholesterol levels by lowering low density lipoproteins when used on a regular basis. Psyllium husk and prebiotic soluble fiber will also reduce cholesterol. They may also reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease by reducing blood pressure and inflammation.  

Colon Polyps and Cancer

Research suggests that a high fiber diet likely reduces your risk of developing colon polyps and colon cancer. Researchers are looking at how different types of fiber may prevent disease of the colon.

Blood Sugar

Soluble fiber can slows the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels.  A healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber on a regular basis can reduce the  risk of type 2 diabetes.

Achieving Healthy Weight

High fiber foods tend to be more filling and give a sense of fullness sooner so you tend to eat less and stay satisfied longer.  High Fiber foods take longer to eat and are less energy dense- so they have fewer calories for the same amount of food.

Bacteria and the Function of the Colon

One additional role of the colon is to provide a home for an enormous number of micro-organisms, mostly bacteria. This Bacteria is essential to health and body function. Recent research has shown that these bacteria play a major role in keeping the colon wall itself healthy. The good bacteria promote strong immune system for the body.   New medical research has shown that the bacterial makeup in the colon in overweight people is abnormal and play a role in obesity and increased calorie absorption.  Research is showing prebiotic fibers will help change this hormonal balance in a favorable way. Soluble fibers in the diet are effective in stimulating the growth of good colon bacteria

Types of Fiber

How Much Fiber is Enough?

The amount of fiber in food is measured in grams.  National nutritional authorities recommend the following amounts of dietary fiber daily.

Men: 30-38 grams daily
Women: 21- 25 grams daily

Tips to Increase Your Fiber Intake

As noted, healthy fiber is only found in plants. The three major categories are whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Here are some tips on how to increase your fiber intake: 

  • Read labels: Look for products where whole grains are the first word on the label.  Check out the calories and the amount of fiber in a serving.
  • Choose products that contain whole grains
  • Eat beans, peas, lentils daily
  • Consume fruits and vegetables daily and include eating fruits and vegetables with skin intact when possible
  • Choose unrefined grains and cereal products
  • Use beans, peas and lentils as a substitute for meat
  • Eat unsalted nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. These are healthy snacks to have on hand.
  • Pick brown rice over white
  • Avoid refined or processed foods- often low in fiber
  • Add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your cereal

Whenever possible dietary fiber is preferable over a fiber supplement due to the additional nutrients these fiber packed foods can provide.