There are two types of fiber, insoluble and soluble.
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool. It is the form of fiber that regulates bowel movements to help prevent constipation.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel. It is the form of fiber that helps lower cholesterol levels.
Many foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, are rich in both insoluble and soluble fiber. A few foods that have a little more fiber that is soluble include: old fashioned and steel cut oats, beans (like black beans, red beans and pinto beans) and apples.
Eating enough total fiber is what's important! The recommendation is 25 to 35 grams per day.
Fiber in Food
When adding fiber to your diet, it is important to do it slowly. This allows your digestive tract time to adjust. Add fiber too quickly and you may have cramping and bloating. It is also important to drink enough water (at least 4 to 8 cups a day) when eating a high-fiber diet, otherwise constipation may occur.
To get the recommended 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day, try to eat at least:
- 3 servings of whole grains (bread, cereal, pasta) per day
- 2 servings of fruit per day
- 3 servings of vegetable per day (1 serving equals ½ cup cooked or 1 cup of salad)
Try to include nuts and seeds several times a week.
Fiber in Supplements
Fiber supplements are also available. The same advice about going slowly applies here, too. Your digestive tract needs time to adjust so you're not faced with cramping and bloating. And don't forget your water. Drink at least 4 to 8 cups daily when taking a fiber supplement.
A few examples of fiber supplements available at your local pharmacy are:
- Fiber Choice