Eating foods that are high in fiber can help to prevent conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, colorectal cancer, diverticular disease, and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Eating foods high in fiber can also help with weight control. Foods that are high in fiber include: legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and seeds.
Fiber is indigestible. It moves food through the digestive system and absorbs water.
Dietary fiber plays an important role in the treatment of conditions such as constipation, gastrointestinal disease, hemorrhoids, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes. There are two types of fiber –soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber readily dissolves in water and forms a gel in the digestive tract. It slows digestion and lowers the rate of nutrient absorption (such as starch and sugars) from the stomach and intestine. Soluble fiber reduces cholesterol levels, which helps to prevent heart disease and stroke. Some studies show that ingestion of soluble fiber may also improve glucose tolerance in those who have diabetes. Insoluble fiber does not readily dissolve in water. It helps to increase bulk, soften stools and shorten transit time through the intestinal tract.
Examples of soluble fiber include: psyllium husk; pectin; and the soft parts of fruits, beans, and peas. Examples of insoluble fiber include: the peels of fruits and vegetables; the peels of beans, lentils, and peas; whole grain foods; bran; nuts and seeds; and vegetables such as green beans, cauliflower, zucchini, and celery. To avoid extreme constipation, it is important to always ingest fiber with water and to drink water throughout the day.
Fiber deficiency contributes to several conditions including: constipation, obesity, atherosclerosis, diabetes, gallstones, varicose veins, diarrhea, diverticulosis, irritable bowel, hemorrhoids, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Note: A variety of medical conditions can lead to the symptoms mentioned above. Therefore, it is important to have a physician evaluate them so that appropriate medical care can be given.
The best source of fiber is from natural foods. If taking fiber supplements, it is important to take them with an adequate amount of liquids. Without adequate liquids the fiber supplements will swell and, in extreme cases, cause choking. Do not take fiber supplements if you have difficulty swallowing. Individuals who have esophageal stricture (narrowing of the esophagus) or any other narrowing or obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract should not take fiber supplements.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following after taking fiber supplements: chest pain, vomiting, or difficulty swallowing or breathing.
Caution: Eating natural foods that are high in fiber is the safest and healthiest way to get an adequate supply of the nutrient. Due to risk of toxicity, individuals should always consult with a knowledgeable healthcare provider before starting doses of supplements. Before giving supplements to children, it is recommended that you first consult with their pediatrician. Also, some supplements may interfere with medications. If you are taking medication, it is recommended that you consult with your physician before taking any supplements. All supplements should be kept in childproof bottles and out of children’s reach.
To avoid extreme constipation, it is important to always ingest fiber with plenty of water and to drink water throughout the day.
Navy beans, cooked from dried, 1 cup – (19.1 g)
Split peas, cooked from dried, 1 cup – (16.3 g)
Lentils, cooked from dried, 1 cup – (15.6 g)
Kidney beans, canned, 1 cup – (13.6 g)
Refried beans, canned, 1 cup – (12.1 g)
100% (wheat) Bran Cereal 1/2 cup – (12.5 g)
Bulgur, cooked, 1 cup – (8.2 g)
Pearled barley, cooked, 1 cup – (6.0 g)
Oat bran, cooked, 1 cup – (5.7 g)
Quinoa, cooked, 1 cup – (5.2 g)
Instant oatmeal, cooked, 1 cup – (4.0 g)
Rice, long-grained brown, cooked, 1 cup – (3.5 g)
Artichoke hearts, cooked, 1 cup – (14.4 g)
Spinach, frozen, cooked, 1 cup – (7.0 g)
Brussel sprouts, frozen, cooked, 1 cup – (6.4 g)
Winter squash, cooked, 1 cup – (5.7 g)
Mushrooms, cooked from fresh, 1 cup – (3.4 g)
Prunes, uncooked, 1 cup, pitted – (12.4 g)
Asian pear 1 pear – (9.9 g)
Guava, fresh, 1 cup – (8.9 g)
Raspberries, fresh, 1 cup – (8.0 g)
Blackberries, fresh, 1 cup – (7.6 g)
Almonds 1 ounce ~23 kernels – (3.5 g)
Pistachio nuts 1 ounce ~49 kernels – (2.9 g)
Pecans 1 ounce ~19 halves – (2.7 g)
Peanuts 1 ounce ~33 kernels – (2.4 g)