When people eat too few fiber-containing foods, the stool may become
hard, dry, and small. High fiber
foods add bulk to waste products in your body, which tends to create
larger, softer stools that move more easily through the colon.
What is Dietary Fiber?
What your mother or grandmother may have called "roughage,"
scientists call fiber. No matter what you call it, it is recommended
that you and your family consume ample amounts. Fiber is not a
specific food but an indigestible, complex carbohydrate found in
plants. Fiber is divided into two categories water soluble and water
insoluble. Soluble fibers are found in fruits such as prunes, apples,
oranges, pears, peaches, grapes, seeds, and such vegetables as oat
bran, dried beans, oatmeal, barley, and rye. Insoluble fibers
are found in some
vegetables, dried beans, wheat bran, seeds, popcorn, brown rice, and
whole grain products such as breads, cereals, and pasta.
How much fiber should I consume?
The American Dietetic Association recommends an
adult diet contains 20-35 grams of fiber a day. Most Americans
consume only half this amount. Increasing your consumption of
complex carbohydrates is the best way to increase fiber intake. Just
make sure you increase your intake of fiber gradually as ingesting too much fiber too quickly can cause
bloating, diarrhea, gas, and general discomfort.
Foods that will help you increase your fiber intake:
- Choose fresh fruit or vegetables rather
- Eat the skin and membranes of cleaned
fruits and vegetables
- Choose bran and whole grain breads /
- Always accompany an increase in fiber
with an increase in water
- Eat less processed foods and more fresh
Some foods high in fiber content: 3
- Dried beans, peas, and other legumes (This
includes baked beans, kidney beans, split peas, dried limas, garbanzos,
pinto beans, and black beans.)
- Bran cereals
- Fresh or frozen lima beans or green peas
- Dried fruit, topped by figs, apricots, and dates
- Raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries
- Sweet corn on the cob or cut off in kernels
- Whole-wheat and other whole-grain cereal products
- Rye, oats, buckwheat, and stone-ground cornmeal
breads, pastas, pizza, pancakes, and muffins
- Baked potato with the skin
- American Gastroenterological Association. AGA Website, Constipation. Patient Center. AGA Website. Available at: http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/digestive-conditions/constipation
- National Institutes of Health. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). Constipation. NIH Publication No. 07–2754. July 2007 http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/constipation/
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2005. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 18. Available at: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/SR21/nutrlist/sr21w291.pdf. Accessed September 14, 2011