Need a Fiber Boost?

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.



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