What is Fiber?

  • It is found primarily in plant cells
  • It is a sponge-like material that absorbs and holds water as it is chewed and passes through the digestive system
  • It may be soluble or insoluble in water
  • It is low in fat
  • It contains few calories
  • It includes substances such as lignin, cellulose, hemicellulose, pentosans, gums, and pectin
  • It is not completely digested
  • It is of greater quality and quantity in less processed foods
  • It is not found in animal food products

What are the best sources of fiber?

  • Soluble fiber is found primarily in fruits, vegetables, legumes and oat bran.
  • Insoluble fiber is found in cereals, breads, fruits, legumes, and vegetables.

How much fiber do I need?

  • Americans eat only 8 to 32 grams of fiber per day. Other cultures, which suffer very little from chronic illnesses, consume four times as much, approximately 40 to 60 grams.
  • The American cancer society and the national cancer institute urge people to eat more fiber to decrease the chance of colon cancer.
  • The American heart association recommends increasing the amount of dietary fiber in order to decrease the chance of heart disease and clogged arteries.
  • Doctors suggest that about 25 percent of the fiber you eat be soluble, the other 75 percent insoluble. That 25/75 split is close to what nature provides in many fiber-rich foods.

How will my body react to a high fiber diet?

  • Insoluble fiber enhances bowel activity and increases regularity.
  • A high-fiber diet may cause bloating, diarrhea, and flatulence. This can be lessened by gradually introducing fiber into the diet. By trying various foods, you may find that certain ones agree with you better than others.
  • A high-fiber diet will not interfere with the absorption of fat, protein, and certain vitamins and minerals such as B6, B12, A, riboflavin, calcium, zinc, copper, magnesium, and iron.


A low-fiber diet can result in:
Appendicitis, Hemorrhoids, Colon cancer, Hiatal hernia, Constipation, High blood pressure, Coronary heart disease, Irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, Obesity, Diabetes, Spastic colon, Diverticular disease, Ulcerative colitis, Gallstones, Varicose veins

What are the health benefits from eating a high-fiber diet?

  • Soluble fiber decreases the chance of hypertension, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol
  • Insoluble fiber helps to prevent diverticular disease, constipation, and colon cancer
  • Cellulose and hemicellulose, insoluble components of fiber absorb water and create a laxative effect
  • Lignin, also a component of insoluble fiber, absorbs little water but decreases cholesterol
  • Pectin, mucilage’s, and gums (soluble components of fiber) decrease absorption of fat, cholesterol, and glucose
  • A high-fiber diet will be more filling, will decrease hunger, and allows one to loose weight in a healthful way
  • Research has indicated that a diet high in fiber, including pectin, contributes to the stabilization of one’s blood sugar level

How to increase fiber in your diet:

  • Eat two tablespoons of bran each morning, working up to one-half cup
  • Substitute whole-grain bread such as rye, wheat or pumpernickel for white bread or rolls
  • Eat brown rice instead of white rice
  • Eat the skins of potatoes and fresh fruit
  • Whenever a recipe calls for breadcrumbs, substitute bran
  • Eat at least three servings of either raw vegetables or fresh fruit every day

Other facts:

  • 28 grams equals one ounce–the weight of two tablespoons of water
  • Metamucil is made up of psyllium hydrophilic, which is primarily made up of soluble dietary fiber. Metamucil is made from the husk of the psyllium seed (a grain).
  • All fiber, including bran, needs ample liquid in order to work effectively.

Doctor recommends eating at least 30-40 grams of fiber per day.

6/90,5/91, 5/98, 11/08 Written by: Bruce Scott Sobel, D.O.