Why You Need More Fiber – and 6 Easy Ways to Get It

A recent American Dietetic Association position paper reported that most of us don’t even come close to the recommended intake of 20 grams to 35 grams of fiber a day.

Why Is Fiber so Good for Us?

Eating a higher-fiber diet has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels, improve and prevent constipation, and slow digestion. And according to Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan, fiber can help us eat less – and lose weight.
Some recent studies have shown that:

  • Eating a higher-fiber diet, as part of an overall healthful lifestyle, may play a role in a healthful BMI (body mass index). One study found that women who ate more whole grains and total fiber consistently gained less weight over 12 years than those who ate less fiber and whole grains.
  • A high-fiber diet may reduce your risk of colon cancer. If populations with a low average fiber intake suddenly doubled their fiber, they could lower their risk of colon cancer by 40%, according to a study involving data collected from 10 European countries.
  • Fiber may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Those who ate a diet high in refined carbohydrates and low in cereal fiber were more likely to increase their risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a recent study.

6 Ways to Get More Fiber

Before you start, keep a few things in mind: When you increase fiber, you should increase your water intake along with it. Add fiber gradually to give your gastrointestinal tract time to adapt. And if you have gastrointestinal diseases, including constipation, check with your doctor first.

    1. Go for whole grains whenever possible.
    2. Choose the right breakfast cereals.
    3. Eat beans a few times a week.
    4. Have several servings of fruit every day.
    5. Every day, stir a tablespoon of ground flaxseed into your smoothie, soup, casserole, etc.
    6. Have several servings of vegetables every day.

Elaine Magee, WebMD, March 2006

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