FiberDiet - fiber; Roughage; Bulk; Constipation - fiber
Fiber is a substance found in plants. Dietary fiber, which is the type of fiber you can eat, is found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. It is an important part of a healthy diet.
Dietary fiber adds bulk to your diet. Because it makes you feel full faster, it can help with weight control. Fiber aids digestion and helps prevent constipation. It is sometimes used for the treatment of diverticulosis, diabetes, and heart disease.
Constipation is when you do not pass stool as often as you normally do. Your stool may become hard and dry, and it is difficult to pass.
Diverticula are small, bulging sacs or pouches that form on the inner wall of the intestine. Diverticulitis occurs when these pouches become inflame...
Diabetes is a long-term (chronic) disease in which the body cannot regulate the amount of sugar in the blood.
Coronary heart disease is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is also cal...
There are two forms of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel during digestion. This slows digestion. Soluble fiber is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables. Research has shown that soluble fiber lowers cholesterol, which can help prevent heart disease.
Insoluble fiber is found in foods such as wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains. It appears to speed the passage of foods through the stomach and intestines and adds bulk to the stool.
Eating a large amount of fiber in a short period of time can cause intestinal gas (flatulence), bloating, and abdominal cramps. This problem often goes away once the natural bacteria in the digestive system get used to the increase in fiber. Adding fiber to the diet slowly, instead of all at one time, can help reduce gas or diarrhea.
Gas is air in the intestine that is passed through the rectum. Air that moves from the digestive tract through the mouth is called belching. Gas is ...
Abdominal bloating is a condition in which the belly (abdomen) feels full and tight. Your belly may look swollen (distended).
Abdominal pain is pain that you feel anywhere between your chest and groin. This is often referred to as the stomach region or belly.
Too much fiber may interfere with the absorption of minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium. In most cases, this is not a cause for too much concern because high-fiber foods tend to be rich in minerals.
On average, Americans now eat about 16 grams of fiber per day. The recommendation for older children, adolescents, and adults is to eat 21 to 38 grams of fiber each day. Younger children will not be able to eat enough calories to achieve this amount, but it is a good idea to introduce whole grains, fresh fruits, and other high-fiber foods.
To ensure that you get enough fiber, eat a variety of foods, including:
- Dried beans and peas
- Whole grains
Add fiber gradually over a period of a few weeks to avoid stomach distress. Water helps fiber pass through the digestive system. Drink plenty of fluids (about 8 glasses of water or noncaloric fluid a day).
Taking the peels off fruits and vegetables reduces the amount of fiber you get from the food. Fiber-rich foods offer health benefits when eaten raw or cooked.
Hensrud DD, Heimburger DC. Nutrition's interface with health and disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 202.
Thompson M, Noel MB. Nutrition and family medicine. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 37.
US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th ed. www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf. Updated December 2020. Accessed December 30, 2020.
Sources of fiber - illustration
The addition of fiber promotes regularity. Vegetables, fresh or dried fruits, and whole grains are excellent sources of fiber. To reap the benefits of fiber, it is very important to drink plenty of fluids.
Sources of fiber
Review Date: 8/13/2020
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 01/29/2021.