High Fiber Diet

What is fiber?

Fiber is part of food that is resistant to digestion and absorption. Fiber helps prevent constipation by providing bulk in the diet and may be helpful in preventing many gastrointestinal conditions.

Why is fiber important to include in your diet?

Fiber can absorb up to 30 times its own weight in water. The body doesn’t actually absorb fiber. It adds bulk and texture to the stool as it passes through the body, keeping your system regular. Because of this we recommend fiber for the treatment or prevention of many digestive tract problems, including hemorrhoids, diverticular disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and cancer. Fiber keeps your stools from becoming either too loose, or dry and hard. If you suffer from diarrhea, fiber may “slow you down.” If you have difficulty with constipation, fiber may “speed you up.” It may actually “normalize” bowel activity.

What are good sources of fiber?

Dietary: 

Additives:

Psyllium, Methylcellulose, or Polycarbophil (as in Benefiber, Citrucel, Fibercon, Hydrocil, Konsyl, Metamucil)

How should fiber be added to the diet?

Add fiber to your diet slowly to prevent feeling “bloated” and “gassy”.

Choose the following more often:

Breakfast

Citrus Fruit or Juice - ½ cup
High fiber Cereal -½ - 1 cup
Whole Grain Toast - 1 Slice
Butter or Margarine - 1 teaspoon
Milk - 1 cup

   
Lunch

Soup
Meat or Meat Substitute Vegetables -1-2 servings
Raw Vegetables salad
Whole Grain Bread - 1-2- slices
Fruit - ½ cup
Milk - 1 cup

  
Dinner

Meat, Poultry or Fish
Potato or brown rice- ½ cup
Vegetable- 2 serving
Salad
Fresh Fruit- ½ cup
Beverage

High Fiber Cereal: a great way to start – look at the following fiber content and compare with Cheerios – 1 cup = 2 grams fiber. Fiber One ½ cup = 14 grams; Kellogg’s 100% Bran ½ cup = 13 grams; Kashi 1 cup = 12 grams; Post 100% Bran 1/3 cup = 9 grams; Post Raisin Bran 1 cup = 8 grams. Oatmeal 1 cup = 8 grams.

If you are lactose intolerant and cannot drink milk, try “rice milk”, soymilk, or lactaid pills.

Vegetables:

Portion

Grams Fiber

 

Fruit:

Portion

Grams Fiber

Beans (kidney)

½ cup

5.5

 

Apple

Small

2.8

Beans (lima)

½ cup

4.4

 

Banana

Medium

2.0

Bread-wheat

Slice

2.0

 

Orange

Small

3.0

Broccoli

¾ cup

5.0

 

Peach

Medium

2.0

Carrots (raw)

4 sticks

1.7

 

Watermelon

Thin slice

2.8

Green Beans

½ cup

2.1

 

 

 

 

Green Peas

½ cup

3.0

 

Note that vegetables have more fiber and usually produce less gas since fruit has fructose sugar in it. Taking Beano capsules until the body is used to them may reduce gas from vegetables.

Corn

Small

3.0

 

Potato

Small

4.2

 

Rice (brown)

½ cup

5.5

 

Fiber supplements: one dose of powder forms of supplements supply 3-5 grams of fiber. Six pills supply 2.4 grams of fiber. There are 3 basic types: Psyllium such as Metamucil is a plant material works by breaking down in the gut and becoming a food source for the “good bacteria” there. Psyllium does contain calories and may cause gas. Methylcellulose such as Citrucel is a fiber that is non-allergenic, non-fermentable and is created from the cell wall of plants. Polycarbophil such as Fibercon is created from plants and is not absorbed by the body. It absorbs water in the intestinal tract and creates a bulkier and softer stool. Polycarbophil is less likely to cause bloating. All three can be used long term.

There is no question that adequate fiber is necessary for good health. Consumption of 20 to 40 grams of fiber per day is possible from food sources alone. However, it is recognized that in the U.S. the average fiber intake is less than 15 grams per day. In light of average intake, fiber supplements are often recommended.