A high fiber diet saves lives. Manufacturers of processed foods have worked hard to take the fiber out and put the sugar in to a lot of packaged foods. But a new study from the National Institutes of Health and AARP suggests that removing fiber is a big mistake.
More than 350,000 people over the age of 50 participated in the nine-year study. They filled out detailed questionnaires about what they ate so that researchers could calculate their nutrient intake. Those who ate more fiber were about 20 percent less likely to die from heart disease, cancer or other chronic illnesses. They also suffered less respiratory disease and fewer infections.
The greatest benefits came from diets rich in whole grains and legumes. The participants eating the most fiber got almost 30 grams of fiber daily for men and about 26 grams for women. Current recommendations in the US are in that range. Sadly, most people do not get that much fiber and the trends have been in the wrong direction.
[Archives of Internal Medicine, online Feb. 14, 2011]

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  1. patricia

    I found this chart online. http://www.wehealnewyork.org/healthinfo/dietaryfiber/fibercontentchart.html
    Since reading it, I’ve added peas, pears, and gluten-free buckwheat cereal. Barley isn’t on the chart, but it’s high fiber and I use it as a breakfast cereal with shredded coconut (also high fiber). I found a wheat-less coconut macaroon recipe I’m going to try. We already eat beans every day. I make my own (pink or pinto) and serve 1/2 cup with fresh minced garlic most nights. I just placed an order with Bob’s Red Mill for unusual flours that are fiber-rich… black bean, pea.

  2. SK

    How can one eat 25 grams of fiber per day? That is a lot without a supplement. Also there is dietary and non dietary fiber. We need both. I was adding psyllium husks until the doctor said that it was too hard on my system. Also I do not eat wheat-which means I cannot eat bran.
    Any suggestions on how to get enough fiber?

  3. Carol H.

    When I tried to add a fiber supplement, I found most of them are made from some form of physillum husk, which tears up my lower intestinal system. I can’t eat enough fruit and vegetables either, as I have a sugar problem, and fructose is still sugar…
    I do berries, and a little melon but a lot of veggies also mess up my digestion even when I take enzyme products. I can only eat so much oatmeal! I agree that it’s not at all easy to get in “enough” fiber and am hoping some conscientious health company will help us along. Kashi is a good start, but physillum still reigns high.

  4. PD

    When I tried to increase my fiber intake through diet alone, I realized just how dangerous our diet of pre-packaged, over-processed food is.
    My grocery store (Wegmans) has a gorgeous array of “artisan” breads, for instance, but in the ‘whole grain’ section of lumpy, seedy loaves, I found that virtually NONE of it is whole grain or even whole wheat. It’s “posing” as healthy but is hardly more so than Wonder Bread. I complained about the signage, but they didn’t change it. Money is money. Beware!
    It is very, very difficult indeed to get 25 grams of fiber from food without overeating, and some experts recommend far more fiber than that.
    So I take a fiber supplement, eat lots of fruit (pears have 4+ grams of fiber, for instance) and whole grains, like oatmeal, but trust me, it’s an uphill fight.
    Check out the research and then count up the grams of fiber in your diet. You’ll see a) why we are so fat b) that we are killing ourselves and c) that food producers and sellers are playing head games with us with their tiny little bits of fiber in most foods with “fiber” in the name.

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