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Can you get fiber naturally from foods?

Most people in the U.S. take in much less fiber than they should. The best way to get it is from food, like a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Some good sources of soluble fiber include:

  • Oatmeal and oat bran
  • Apples, citrus fruits, and strawberries
  • Beans, peas, and lentils
  • Barley
  • Rice bran

And some sources of insoluble fiber are:

  • Cereal brans
  • Whole grains, like barley
  • Whole-wheat breads, wheat cereals, and wheat bran
  • Vegetables like carrots, cabbage, beets, and cauliflower

Some foods, like nuts, contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.

What are the risks of taking fiber?

  • Side effects. Fiber does not have serious side effects. At high levels, it can cause bloating, cramping, gas, and perhaps worsening constipation. Drinking more water -- 2 liters a day -- may help.
  • Interactions. If you take any regular medications, talk to a doctor before you start using a fiber supplement. It may block the absorption of some drugs.
  • Risks. Rarely, fiber supplements have caused intestinal blockages. If you have any chronic disease, talk to a doctor before you start using a fiber supplement. The sugar and salt in some supplements, particularly powders, might be risky for people with diabetes or high blood pressure. People with diabetes may want to choose a sugar-free powder or another form of fiber. Blond psyllium is the most common type of fiber supplement on the market.

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