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7 reasons to eat more fiber

Fiber is a superstar nutrient – it can lower your cholesterol, help you maintain a healthy weight and may even prevent colon cancer. Here are seven reasons to make sure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet.

1. Most people don’t get enough.

As our society eats more processed food than ever, most Americans fall short of their daily fiber needs.  

“The average American diet probably provides somewhere between 18 and 25 grams of fiber a day,” says Jay Singh, M.D., a colorectal surgeon at Piedmont. “The average American male should be getting 40 to 50 grams of fiber a day and the average American female needs 25 to 35 grams a day.”

2. Supplements can help, if needed.

Dr. Singh says fiber supplements are not the ideal way to reach your fiber goals, but they do provide fiber if you’re not getting enough in your diet.

“The best way to get enough fiber is naturally, with fruits, vegetables and foods that contain fiber within them,” he says.

To avoid unpleasant side effects like intestinal gas, gradually increase your fiber intake and drink plenty of water throughout the day.

3. Fiber normalizes bowel movements.

Fiber adds bulk to the stool, which allows the colon to work more efficiently, resulting in more regular bowel movements.

“By improving the efficiency of colonic function, there is less stress on the colon wall and we have easier bowel movements with less of potential for hemorrhoids or diverticulosis,” he says.

4. Fiber helps you maintain a healthy weight.

“Fiber, because of the bulk it provides, helps with our satiety or feeling full after a meal,” says Dr. Singh. “As a result, many people will ingest fewer calories and that may have an impact on their weight.”

5. Soluble fiber helps lower blood sugar levels.

Soluble fiber – found in many fruits, vegetables, beans, oatmeal, nuts and flaxseeds – has a positive impact on diabetes and blood sugar because it slows the digestive process.

6. Soluble fiber lowers cholesterol levels.

Soluble fiber also has a positive effect on cholesterol levels.

“Cholesterol is bound by certain kinds of fibers and helps to lower cholesterol and LDL [bad cholesterol] levels,” says Dr. Singh.

7. Fiber may prevent colon cancer.

While more studies are needed, some research has indicated fiber may help prevent colon cancer.

“The studies are imperfect, but certainly the benefits to the colon are real,” he says.

To learn more about keeping your digestive system running smoothly, visit Living Better’s Digestive Health page. 

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