Your Guide To
Easy Ways To Add
You've heard about it and you've read about it. And now your
physician is recommending it for you: a high fiber diet. You're not alone--most
Americans would benefit from adding more fiber to their current diet. The good
news is, it's easy to do. What's more, a high fiber diet can provide long-term
benefits for your health.
In this booklet we provide you with the latest information about
dietary fiber: what it is, why it's important, and the best sources for it.
Plus, we offer easy and good-tasting ways to add fiber to your diet.
Created with the help of nutritionists and physicians, this
booklet is designed to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about
fiber and provide you with general guidelines. For specific guidance, follow
your physician's instructions completely.
What Is Fiber?
Fiber is an
important part of our diet. It furnishes no nutrients, vitamins, or minerals.
It isn't even absorbed into our bodies. So why do we need fiber? Fiber adds
bulk that keeps other foods moving along our digestive tracts, and it holds
water which, in turn, softens the stool for easy elimination.
What exactly is fiber? Fiber is the part of a plant that cannot be
digested. It comes in two different forms:
- Soluble fiber forms a viscous gel and disperses well in
liquid. Examples include oats, beans, and many types of fruit.
- Insoluble fiber does not disperse in water and passes
through the digestive system largely intact. some good sources of insoluble
fiber include wheat bran, whole-grain cereals, whole-grain breads, and many
types of vegetables.
Both types of fiber are essential for proper bowel function. They
help to create larger, softer stools which move through the digestive tract
more easily. The secret to getting enough soluble and insoluble fiber is to eat
a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of high-fiber foods. (See the
Guide to High-Fiber Sources)
Long-Term Benefits of Fiber
researches believe that a lack of fiber in the diet is implicated in digestive
tract-related diseases. Constipation can result from lack of fiber and fluid in
the diet. And straining and pressure resulting from constipation may lead to
diverticular disease and hemorrhoids. Fiber helps maintain normal bowel
function to prevent constipation and its potential complications. Most
high-fiber foods are comparably low in calories and fat. They also create a
feeling of satiety since they typically take longer to chew.
Tips for Staying
- Eat regular
Chew food thoroughly and slowly.
- Drink plenty of
Include water, fruit and vegetable juices, and soups.
Start by walking, bicycling, or swimming.
- Establish regular toilet
If you feel the urge to have a bowel movement, respond
immediately. Delaying now may mean straining later.
- Add fiber to your
Fiber adds bulk to help the colon function normally.
Fiber and Your Digestive System
To help understand why a high-fiber diet is important, let's take a quick tour
of your digestive system. Like a long, winding pipe, the digestive system
carries food throughout your body, sending nutrients to the bloodstream and
waste products through the small and large intestines. Here's how it works:
- The digestive process begins in your mouth. Your teeth break up
the food into small pieces and your saliva mixes with the food, allowing it to
pass through the esophagus into the stomach. Using muscular contractions, the
esophagus sends food from the mouth to the stomach.
- The stomach breaks down the food into smaller pieces, preparing
it to travel on to the lower part of the digestive tract.
- After leaving the stomach, the food passes into the small
intestine, where the food's nutrients are further broken down and absorbed into
the bloodstream. By the time food passes through all 21 feet of the small
intestine and reaches the colon, only water and waste products remain.
- Now the colon begins the process of removing waste from the
body. During this time, it absorbs excess water from the waste. Under normal
conditions, the colon is amazingly efficient. For every 10 quarts of water
entering the colon, approximately 9.9 quarts are reabsorbed before reaching the
- Sometimes the colon's natural contractions or rhythms are
disturbed and the waste materials move too slowly. Stress, medication,
pregnancy, illness, resisting the urge to defecate, lack of exercise, or
inadequate fiber or liquid intake are all potential disruptions to the colon's
function. If transit is slowed, waste hardens and is not passed in a timely
fashion to the rectum, resulting in constipation.
The High-Fiber Diet
many nutrition experts, we should be eating between 20 and 35 grams of fiber
daily. If you are like most Americans, however, you're only averaging 10 to 15
grams a day. This means you may need to double or even triple your fiber
Questions About Fiber
Q: How much fiber do I need each day?
A: Nutrition experts suggest 20 to 35 grams a day, which is
equivalent to 10 or more apples, oranges, or pears.
Q: What is the most effective way to
add fiber to the diet?
A: By replacing high-fat, low-fiber foods
with high-fiber ones. You can do this by eating whole-grain bread instead of
white bread, eating vegetables such as broccoli with your dinner, and eating
fruits unpeeled instead of peeled.
Q: At what rate should I add fiber to
A: In the beginning, go slowly. Too much too soon can cause
gas and abdominal pain. It can take several weeks to add the recommended amount
of bulk to the diet. While you're working on it, drink plenty of fluids.
You don't have to totally rearrange your diet to accommodate more
fiber. You can begin by substituting high-fiber foods for low-fiber ones.
Switch your bakery habits from white bread and rolls to whole-grain breads. Try
brown instead of white rice. Eat "whole grain" cereal. And most easily of all,
add fruits and vegetables to your diet.
Your general rule of thumb should be at least one serving of whole
grain in every meal. Try this sample menu:
Breakfast -- Cereal and/or toast. Banana.
Lunch -- Sandwich on whole-grain bread. Carrot sticks.
Snack -- Apple or raisins Skip the candy bar, or at least
Dinner -- Broiled chicken and steamed broccoli. Wheat
Try to increase your intake of vegetables and fruit. You should be
getting three servings of each every day. Try a sliced banana on your cereal,
substitute carrot sticks for chips as a lunch side, and crunch on a garden
salad for dinner. Wherever possible, eat the peels (you're off the hook with
bananas and oranges).
This web site includes a handy guide to high-fiber foods. You can
print it out and refer to it for quick reference at mealtimes and snack
Remember, whenever you change your diet, for whatever reason, do
it gradually. Let your body adjust. Take in too much fiber too soon and you
could suffer from bloating and possible abdominal cramps.
A Fiber Solution:
If your physician has recommended
increasing your fiber intake in order to treat constipation, he or she may
suggest the convenience and effectiveness of Metamucil.
What does METAMUCIL add?
METAMUCIL contains psyllium, a 100%-natural fiber that helps you restore
regularity, increase your fiber intake, and maintain regularity when
recommended by your physician.
How much fiber can METAMUCIL add?
At 3.4 grams per dose, taken up to three times per day, you can add as much
as 10.2 grams of psyllium fiber. That's about half of the minimum amount of
fiber recommended for your daily consumption. And it's one of the most
concentrated sources of soluble fiber. In fact, METAMUCIL's fiber contains more
than eight times the amount of soluble fiber found in oat bran, gram for gram.
When can I take METAMUCIL?
can take METAMUCIL in the morning, at noon or in the evening, with or without
food with at least 8 ounces of liquid (one to three times a day). Laxatives,
including bulk fibers, may affect how well other medicines work. If you are
taking a prescription medicine by mouth, take this product at least 2 hours
before or 2 hours after the prescribed medicine.
YOUR METAMUCIL OPTIONS
|Smooth Texture Orange(Sugar
||1 tsp or 1 PKT
||Less than 5
|Smooth Texture Regular(Sugar
|| 1 tsp
||Less than 5
|Smooth Texture Orange(with
||1 TBSP or 1 PKT
||Less than 5
|Wafers: Apple Crisp orCinnamon
* Metamucil® is a
registered trademark of Proctor & Gamble.
All material was reproduced
with permission from Proctor & Gamble.
Most Americans would benefit from adding more fiber to their current
diet. A high-fiber diet can provide long-term benefits for your health.