Eating a high-fiber diet
is thought to help prevent constipation and its related problems. It may lower blood
pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and help control blood sugar levels. And it
may help with reaching and staying at a healthy weight.
What is the recommended daily amount of fiber?
The daily adequate intake
amount for fiber has been calculated by the U.S. Institute of Medicine. Men ages 19
and older should strive for 38 grams a day and women ages 19 and older should aim
for 25 grams a day.
How can you get more fiber?
is in many foods, including beans, peas, other vegetables, fruits, and whole grain
products. You can figure out how much fiber is in a food by looking at the nutrition facts label. If a food has fiber,
it will be listed under the total carbohydrate on the label. The food label assumes
the daily value (DV) of fiber is 25 grams a day (g/day) for a 2,000 calorie diet.
Grams of fiber (estimates) in certain foodsfootnote 1
Beans (navy, pinto,
black, kidney, lima, white, great northern), cooked
100% bran cereal
Split peas, lentils, chickpeas, or cowpeas, cooked
(blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
Apple with skin
Whole wheat spaghetti, cooked
Brown rice, cooked
sure to increase the amount of fiber in your diet slowly so that your stomach can
adjust to the change. Adding too much fiber too quickly may cause stomach upset and
Some doctors recommend adding bran to your diet to help boost the fiber
content. If you do this, start slowly with 1 teaspoon a day. Gradually increase the
amount to several teaspoons a day.
Does fiber help
If your diet is high enough in fiber, your stools should become
softer, larger, and easier to pass.
Changing your diet may relieve constipation,
but it may not help relieve abdominal (belly) pain.
If you don't have any
improvement within a week or two, talk to your doctor about your diet.
to your doctor if constipation continues or gets worse. Another medical problem or
a medicine may be causing constipation.
Drink enough fluids every day
to help keep your stool soft. High-fiber diets need enough fluid in the body to work
of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (2012). Nutrient data laboratory. USDA
National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 25. Available online:
Other Works Consulted
Dietetic Association (ADA) (2008). Position of the American Dietetic Association:
Health implications of dietary fiber. Journal of the American Dietetic Association,
108(10): 1716-1731. Available online: http://www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8355.
and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine (2005). Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy,
Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington,
DC: National Academies Press. Also available online: http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2002/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-for-Energy-Carbohydrate-Fiber-Fat-Fatty-Acids-Cholesterol-Protein-and-Amino-Acids.aspx.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary
Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerRhonda
O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (2012). Nutrient data laboratory.
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 25. Available
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this