Fiber: It's a Gas!!

Dietary fiber can help your colon and is an important part of the management of your diverticulosis. It speeds the progress of food passing through your digestive tract and promotes regular bowel movements. The increased ease of stool passage keeps the intestinal muscles in good shape and prevents the sluggishness that leaves stool sitting in the colon for long periods of time. This may help to prevent diseases of the bowel, including formation of polyps, which, when left unattended, may lead to bowel cancer. Furthermore, fiber may bind with or dilute cancer-causing agents in some foods and help push them out of the body rather than allow them to be absorbed into the intestines.

What is fiber?
Fiber is the structural part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that your digestive system cannot digest or break down. Increasing fiber in the diet can be an important factor in improving your overall well-being. For instance, bran has been found to reduce blood sugar and to lower cholesterol. Bran has become a friend to the dieter as well, because it is effective as part of an overall weight control program. Fibrous foods give you a sense of fullness because of the bulkiness of fiber. Fiber-rich foods require more chewing, so eating takes longer and you feel satisfied sooner. Fiber has almost no calories because your intestinal system does not digest it.

What foods contain fiber?
Cereals, fruits, and vegetables all contain some fiber (see the fiber and calorie chart). Foods vary greatly in the amount of fiber they provide. Milk and its products, fats, meats, poultry, fish, and eggs contain no fiber at all. The richest source of fiber is grains, such as cereals, but the fiber content varies, depending on the milling and refining process of the product. Excellent high-fiber cereals (approximately 30 grams of fiber per cup) are All-Bran, Bran Buds, 100% Bran, and Fiber One. Any of these, in addition to Miller's or unprocessed bran, may be used in cooking and added to many already prepared foods.

How much fiber do I need each day?
Aim for 25-35 grams of fiber daily, but work up to it as your system tolerates it. If you are currently consuming little or no fiber in your diet, make the change gradually. Don't shock your intestinal tract. Introducing large amounts of fiber too abruptly may result in cramping, increased gas, or even diarrhea. If any of these occur, cut back on the portion of cereal you are eating, then gradually increase the amount until you can tolerate one cup per day, which will provide you with your fiber requirement.

Isn't it hard to eat one cup of fiber a day?
Not really. You don't have to eat one whole cup at one sitting. There are numerous ways to get the fiber you need enjoyably: Take a half-cup in the morning and the rest at night. Put out a cup of cereal in the morning and snack on it during the day, or use it as topping on ice cream, custards, and other, more palatable foods. Cook with recipes that use bran-baking with bran is an old and familiar culinary technique. Try using bran instead of breading on chicken and fish, breakfasting with bran cakes instead of pancakes, or making meatballs with bran filler.

What else can I do?

Serving SizeCaloriesFiber (gram)
Whole wheat bread1 slice552.1
White bread1 slice650.8
Rye bread1 slice601.2
Fiber One Cereal1/3 cup6011.9
Peanut butter, smooth2 Tbsp2002.4
Peanuts (roasted/salted1/4 cup2052.9
Applemedium size753.3
Apple sauce (canned)1/2 cup402.6
Apple juice1/2 cup600
Apricots, dried1/4 cup607.8
Banana1 small401.6
Raisins2 Tbsp451.2
Plum2 medium100.4
Prunes, uncooked2 medium202.0
Strawberries1/2 cup201.7
Orange1 small402.4
Honeydew melon1/10 melon301.3
Grapes, seedless10200.3
Asparagus, boiled4 medium spears100.9
Olives10 medium502.1
Broccoli - boiled1/2 cup153.2
Cabbage - shredded, boiled1/2 cup102.0
Carrots1 medium, raw202.3
Cauliflower - boiled1/2 cup51.1
Corn on the cob1 ear (5 inches long)1555.9
Kidney beans - cooked1/2 cup1009.3
Lettuce1/6 head101.4
Peas, green, boiled1/2 cup404.2
Potatoes - baked with skin1 medium1303.0
Spinach - boiled1/2 cup255.7
Tomatoes, raw1 medium202.0
Tomato sauce1/2 cup1152.6