by Maria Adams, MS, MPH, RD
What Is Fiber?
Dietary fiber is a form of carbohydrate found in plants that cannot be digested by humans. All plants contain fiber, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. Fiber is often classified into two categories: soluble and insoluble.
Why Follow a High-Fiber Diet?
Eating a high-fiber diet can also help improve your cholesterol levels, lower your risk of coronary heart disease, reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, and lower your weight. For people with type 1 or 2 diabetes, a high-fiber diet can also help stabilize blood sugar levels.
How Much Fiber Should I Eat? TOP
A high-fiber diet should contain 20-35 grams of fiber a day. This is actually the amount recommended for the general adult population; however, most Americans eat only 15 grams of fiber per day.
Digestion of Fiber TOP
Eating a higher fiber diet than usual can take some getting used to by your body’s digestive system. To avoid the side effects of sudden increases in dietary fiber (eg, gas, cramping, bloating, and diarrhea), increase fiber gradually and be sure to drink plenty of fluids every day.
Tips for Increasing Fiber Intake TOP
High-Fiber Diet Eating Guide TOP
American Dietetic Association
Dietitians of Canada
American Dietetic Association. Nutrition Care Manual. American Dietetic Association website. Available at: http://nutritioncaremanual.org . Accessed December 9, 2009.
Dietary, functional, and total fiber. National Institute of Medicine website. Available at: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10490&page=339 . Accessed December 9 , 2009.
Fiber. Harvard School of Public Health website. Available at: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/fiber.html . Accessed January 12, 2006.
Fiber. The Linus Pauling Institute. Available at: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/fiber/ . Accessed January 12, 2006
Fiber facts. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center website. Available at: http://patienteducation.upmc.com/Pdf/FiberFacts.pdf . Accessed January 11, 2006.
Position of the American Dietetic Association: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008; 108: 1716-1731.
Shield J, Mullen MC. Patient education materials. Supplement to the Manual of Clinical Dietetics. 3rd ed. Chicago, IL: American Dietetic Association; 2001.
12/9/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Aune D, Chan DS, Lau R, et al. Dietary fibre, whole grains, and risk of colorectal cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMJ. 2011;343:d6617.
Last reviewed March 2013 by Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
Last Updated: 3/15/2013