4 Warning Signs Your Diet May Lack Fiber
Is your diet low on fiber? Find out and protect your health.
Fiber May Foil Disease — and Relieve Chronic Conditions
A high-fiber diet not only helps you feel satiated and aids your digestion,
but evidence suggests it's also a powerful disease fighter. Fiber may reduce
your risk for illness, including:
Cholesterol/Heart Disease: Studies show that a heart-healthy
diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in produce and whole grains
can lower blood cholesterol by 0.5% to 2% for every gram of soluble fiber eaten
That's because soluble fiber binds to dietary cholesterol, helping to eliminate
it from the digestive system. This in turn lowers blood cholesterol, which
reduces cholesterol deposits in the arteries. Soluble fiber dissolves in water
to form a gel-like substance. Sources of soluble fiber are oats, legumes
(beans, peas, and soybeans), apples, bananas, berries, barley, some vegetables,
- Diabetes: Fiber not only helps with diabetes management, but it may
also be a powerful preventative.
Studies suggest that a diet rich in cereal fiber may reduce your risk for
diabetes by 28%. By contrast, research shows that a high-sugar, low-fiber diet
can more than double a woman's risk of contracting type 2 diabetes.
- Cancer: About one-third of cancer deaths may be diet-related,
according to the National Cancer Institute.
Research has shown, however, that diets low in fat and high in fiber-rich foods
like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables may reduce the risk of some cancers,
including those of the colon and rectum.
- Hemorrhoids: Hemorrhoids,
swollen veins near the anus and lower rectum, can develop when pushing or
straining to have a bowel movement.
Eating a high-fiber diet packed with produce and whole grains, and drinking
plenty of liquids, can help prevent and relieve hemorrhoids by keeping stools
soft so they pass through the digestive systems more easily. (Remember to
consult your doctor if you have blood in your stools or bleeding from your
rectum. These may be signs of a more serious condition.)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
(IBS): With IBS, the nerves and muscles in the large intestine
are extra-sensitive to certain foods -- or lack of them -- resulting in
cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and
Though IBS has no cure, symptom relief can be found through medicine, stress reduction, and by
avoiding triggers such as fatty foods, alcohol, and carbonated beverages.
Fiber, like that in bran, whole grains, and produce, reduces IBS symptoms --
especially constipation -- by making stools soft, bulky, and easier to
A powerhouse nutrient like fiber can help you manage your weight, avoid
disease, and relieve chronic conditions.
But when you're ready to give your diet a fiber boost -- and have talked
with your doctor about your plans -- take it slowly. Too much fiber too fast
can cause cramps, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Prevent those problems by adding
just a few grams of fiber at a time. Get into the habit of drinking a minimum
of 2 cups of a calorie-free beverage between each meal and to help avoid any