High Fiber Diet

Dietary fiber is the undigestible carbohydrate from plants that passes through our guts into the colon. Also known as “roughage,” fiber helps to pull water into the colon, aiding in multiple GI-related and non-GI-related conditions.

Fiber is found in a variety of plant sources including vegetables, fruit, grains, seeds, nuts and legumes. There are two main types, soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fibers dissolve in water, and the insoluble varieties do not. Regardless of their ability to dissolve, fibers reach the colon (or large intestine) completely undigested. Here they add bulk and act to pull water into the colon contents. This helps to “wet” stools, make them softer, and generally aid with stool evacuation. Fibers also have other positive benefits such as lowering cholesterol, decreasing the risk of coronary artery disease, lowering the risk of stroke, and helping to prevent colorectal cancer.

Your Gastroenterologist may suggest daily fiber supplementation for a variety of reasons. Daily fiber is treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), hemorrhoids, anal fissures, diverticulosis, and constipation. The National Cancer Institute recommends adults consume between 20-30 grams of fiber daily. The average American uses only 5-20 grams. Occasionally increased gas production will be noticed when fiber supplements are begun – slowly increasing fiber doses to the goal dose will help to eliminate this problem. It is imperative that adequate water be used with fiber supplementation. Although no specific recommendations exist as to amount, consider using 8-12 ounces of water for each 5 grams of fiber consumed.

Fibers can be found in a variety of natural and synthetic forms. Over-the-counter formulations of available fiber include Metamucil, Citrucel, Benefiber, and Hydrocil. Powder forms of these fibers are most useful, although capsules and wafers do exist. Solid pill forms of fiber should be avoided. Fiber content of commonly consumed foods is outlined in the box below.

Serving Size Food Grams dietary fiber
1 medium Bran muffin 3
1 slice Whole wheat bread 2
1 slide White bread 1
½ cup Kidney beans 9
½ cup Baked beans 7
½ cup Navy beans 5
½ cup Pinto beans 5
½ cup Frozen peas 4
1 medium Baked potato with skin 4
½ cup Broccoli tops 3
3.5 ounces Dried figs 18
3.5 ounces Prunes 8
3.5 ounces Raspberries 7
¼ cup Almonds 5
1 medium Apple with skin 3
1 ounce Kellogg’s All Bran Ex Fiber 14
1 ounce General Mills Fiber One 12
1 ounce Kellogg’s All Bran 9
1 cup Whole wheat pasta 5
1 ounce Kellogg’s Raisin Bran 4
1 ounce Post Grape Nuts 2