Adequate daily fiber intake confers multiple health benefits, including improved management of irritable bowel syndrome.
Many people in the United States find it difficult to meet the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber. In fact, the average American consumes only 10 to 15 g of fiber each day.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly the American Dietetic Association, the recommended daily fiber intake is 25 g for women and 38 g for men. After age 50 years, daily fiber needs decrease to 21 g for women and 30 g for men.
The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine and the American Heart Association, on the other hand, recommend that children and adults consume 14 g of dietary fiber per 1000 calories, which appears to be the amount required to promote heart health. Adequate consumption of dietary fiber is critical to maintaining normal bowel function and is recommended for prevention and treatment of constipation. In addition, studies have demonstrated that adequate daily fiber intake confers multiple health benefits and has the potential to prevent or decrease the risk of certain health problems.
Why Fiber Matters
High dietary fiber intake may decrease one’s risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and colon cancer. Multiple epidemiologic studies have found a correlation between high dietary fiber intake and decreased risk of CHD and cardiovascular disease (CVD).4 Increasing fiber intake via whole grains, legumes, guar gum, pectin, and psyllium also appears to lower serum cholesterol levels and decrease CHD risks.4 High fiber intake may be beneficial to those with gastroesophageal reflux disease, duodenal ulcer, diverticulitis, and hemorrhoids.
Studies have also showed that adequate intake of soluble fiber can help improve glycemic management for diabetics. Other health benefits associated with adequate fiber intake include improved management of irritable bowel syndrome, increased weight loss, and restored bowel regularity for those on low-carbohydrate diets. Results from a study published in the June 2012 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism suggest that teenagers who do not consume enough fiber are at increased risk of CVD and diabetes.
Consuming fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and beans is considered ideal, but many people may find it difficult to obtain their daily required fiber intake through dietary means alone.
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