Why should I eat fiber?

Robynne K. Chutkan, MD
I recommend that people eat at least 35 grams of fiber daily for optimal digestive health. When you reach that magic number of 35 grams, some amazing things start to happen. In addition to magnificent stools that drop effortlessly into the bowl, your risk for a lot of the other things that kill Americans -- many types of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke -- all drop too. An apple (or two) a day really does keep the doctor away.
Ximena Jimenez
Nutrition & Dietetics
There are plenty and significant reasons to eat fiber rich foods. First of all high fiber foods are nutrient packed with vitamins and minerals. Studies show that high fiber diets (25-35 grams per day) may help prevent and treat diabetes. After eating these foods, there is better sugar control. Fiber also helps relieve symptoms associated with digestive diseases such as: diarrhea, diverticulitis and chrohn's disease. Most people with these disorders are afraid of eating fiber. Recent studies are showing that fiber relieves pressure by increasing bulk and motility.
Tanya Zuckerbrot
Nutrition & Dietetics
According to a study published in 2011 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the National Institutes of Health and the AARP found that men and women with the highest fiber intake had a significantly lower risk of death from any cause. This massive study, followed nearly 400,000 people for over a decade, and is the first ever to link longevity and dietary fiber consumption. That’s because fiber acts as “nature’s broom”, sweeping toxins out of your body. Fiber helps reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer.
Increasing the amount of fiber in your diet can have the following health benefits:

Weight Management

Study after study reveals an inverse correlation between fiber intake and body weight. Fiber helps puts the brakes on overeating by delaying gastric emptying of the stomach into the small intestine, which increases the sensation of fullness. This delay can also help stabilize blood-glucose levels by moderating the amount of sugar released into the bloodstream.

Prostate Health

There are also signs that fiber protects the prostate. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer monitored vegetable fiber intake and incidence of prostate cancer among 1,294 men over a period of 11 years, and found that those who consumed the most vegetables were 18 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer.

Digestive Health

Japanese researchers have found an even stronger correlation between dietary fiber intake and rates of colon and colorectal cancers. Study participants with the highest fiber intake had a 27 percent reduced risk for colorectal cancer and a 42 percent reduced risk for colon cancer. Researchers speculate that these results are due to the tendency of insoluble fiber to promote regularity.

Breast-Cancer Protection

Fiber consumption may also help reduce breast-cancer risk, according to a Swedish study of 11,700 postmenopausal women in which researchers found that those with the highest fiber intake had a 40 percent lower risk of breast cancer.

Gallstone Prevention

Data analysis from the Nurses’ Health Study indicates that insoluble fiber may reduce the risk of having to undergo gallstone surgery. In this landmark study, women with the highest insoluble fiber intake were 17 percent less likely to require gallstone surgery than those with the lowest fiber intake. Researchers suspect that by regulating cholesterol levels, fiber may prevent cholesterol from accumulating in the gallbladder and crystallizing into gallstones.
Keri Gans
Nutrition & Dietetics
Your body breaks down dietary fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Dietary fiber, however -- which comes only from plant foods -- passes through your digestive system virtually intact. A diet rich in this indigestible stuff does more than keep you regular. A high-fiber diet also helps stabilize blood sugar, which helps control diabetes and lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. A high-fiber diet can also help you lose weight. You’re more likely to not overeat. High-fiber foods have a low energy density, which means that you can have a larger portion with a lower number of calories.
The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You

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The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You

THE ONLY “DIET” PLAN YOU WILL EVER NEED! No deprivation, no struggles. Just ten small changes that will transform your life. Keri Gans, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, shares...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.