Try to eat at least ﬁve servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and choose several servings of whole grains every day. Consume legumes often: different kinds and colors of fresh, frozen, dried, or canned beans. You can easily meet the 20 to 35 gram per day goal and consume ample amounts of both soluble and insoluble dietary ﬁbers, too.
If you boost your ﬁber intake, do so gradually! Give the bacteria in your stomach and intestines time to adjust. If you add more ﬁber to your diet too quickly or consume too much on a regular basis you may end up with gas, diarrhea, cramps, and bloating.
Drink plenty of water and other ﬂuids, too, when you eat extra ﬁber. Remember that ﬁber acts like a large sponge in your colon. It holds water as it keeps waste moving along. That’s how it helps prevent constipation and related intestinal problems. For ﬁber to do its job, you need to consume enough ﬂuids. Set your goal for at least eight cups of liquids a day.
Caution: Before You Boost Fiber in Meals and Snacks . . .
For young children: Eating a lot of high ﬁber foods may ﬁll young children up too quickly. That may take away their appetite for other nutritious foods with nutrients their bodies need for proper growth. Excessive amounts of ﬁber also may interfere with their body’s absorption of vitamins and minerals.
For elderly people and people who have had gastrointestinal surgery: If you’re older than sixty ﬁve or have had surgery on some part of your stomach, intestines, colon, or rectum, check with your doctor before adding ﬁber to your meals and snacks. You may feel the effects of added ﬁber more than others.
Supplement Watch: About Fiber Pills and Powders . . .
Should you take a ﬁber supplement or not?
Depending on the supplement, adding a ﬁber pill or powder to the foods you already eat probably won’t make much difference to your health, although it may help relieve constipation. So save the expense! Fiberrich foods can supply more ﬁber than many ﬁber pills do. Also, supplements with more ﬁber may inhibit the absorption of some minerals a problem for people whose diets are nutrient deﬁcient. If you decide to take ﬁber supplements for “regularity,” your body might come to rely on them.
In contrast, ﬁber rich foods whole grain foods, fruits, legumes, and vegetables provide the added beneﬁts associated with a high ﬁber diet: little or no fat, especially saturated fat, and a good supply of other nutrients. Fiber pills and powders don’t have any added beneﬁts.
Most registered dietitians and doctors advise against taking ﬁber pills or powders as a primary source of dietary ﬁber.
Can ﬁber supplements help you lose weight and keep weight off? No scientiﬁc evidence supports this claim. You can’t trick your appetite in the long run. Rather than ﬁber pills and powders, choose a low fat, high ﬁber diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, wholegrain foods, and beans to get the fullness feeling. Research doesn’t show a link between ﬁber supplements and reduced cancer risk, either.