How much fiber is enough? There are some tell-tale signs when your body
isn’t receiving enough fiber - constipation, constantly feeling
hungry, or an afternoon crash. Adding fiber to your diet has many benefits,
Normalize Bowel Movements - fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and decreases your
chance of constipation. It is also the first step in treating acute anorectal
complaints, like anal fissures.
Maintain Bowel Health – a high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids
and diverticular disease (small pouches in your colon)
Lower Risk of Colorectal Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease - studies have found that a high-fiber diet likely lowers the risk of
colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease
Lower Cholesterol – studies show fiber may help lower total blood cholesterol levels
and reduce blood pressure and inflammation
Control Blood Sugar Levels - fiber can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels
in people with diabetes. It may also reduce the risk of developing type
Help with Weight Loss - high-fiber foods are more filling, take longer to eat and tend to be
less "energy dense,” than low-fiber foods. This causes you
to eat less, stay satisfied longer and consume fewer calories for the
same volume of food.
So how much? It’s recommended that women should get at least 21 to 25 grams of
fiber per day, while men should aim for 30-38 grams. You might be surprised,
but most people only get around 15 grams per day. Fiber — along
with adequate fluid intake — moves quickly and relatively easily
through the GI tract because it is not absorbed. It is not digested and
moves through the stomach, intestines and colon relatively intact, helping
these organs function properly.
A few easy ways to boost your fiber intake include eating more fruits,
vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. You can also try fiber supplements,
however, whole foods are generally better. When increasing your fiber
intake, do so over a period of time. Too much fiber too fast can cause
cramps, gas, bloating and diarrhea. Staying hydrated can also help reduce
some discomfort, as water is absorbed by the fiber and keeps your stools soft.
Talk to your doctor about what might be the best plan for you.
Ray Scott Daugherty, Jr., MD
Baton Rouge General Physicians - Colon and Rectal Associates
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