OSF Saint Francis Medical Center

Peoria, Illinois

Fill Up With Fiber

Dietary fiber is a nutrient in food that our bodies cannot digest or absorb.  It is found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Eating fiber can help make you feel fuller, prevent constipation, better control blood sugars, and lower blood cholesterol levels. Diets high in fiber may reduce your risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. 

Tips for adding fiber to your diet:

  • Increase your fiber gradually. Too much fiber may cause bloating, cramping, and gas.
  • Drink fluids to prevent constipation.  As you increase your fiber, your body needs more fluid, too.
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables and make a least half of your grains whole.
  • Fruits and vegetables contain fiber, especially in the skin. Whole fruits and vegetables will contain more fiber than juices.
  • Beans and bran have the most fiber per serving.
  • Read food labels for fiber content.  A food with more than 2.5 grams of fiber per serving is considered a “good source” of fiber.  A food with 5 grams of fiber or more per serving is considered an “excellent source.” 
  • Try “whole grain” breads, cereals, rice, and pastas in place of the lower fiber, refined grain versions.
  • Snacks like popcorn and whole grain crackers contain more fiber than chips and pretzels.
  • It is recommended that most of your daily fiber come from whole foods, but foods with added fiber or fiber supplements may help you if you are unable to meet your fiber needs with food alone.  Talk to your doctor before starting any fiber supplements.

Natural versus Added Fiber

  • Natural Fiber comes from whole plant foods. Added fiber, also known as functional fiber, is fiber that is removed from these whole plant foods and then added to foods to boost the fiber content.
  • Fiber supplements may come in gummies, pills, or powders and are safe to take when advised by a doctor.
  • Those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) need to be especially careful with fiber, since it may cause irritation and increased digestive problems.
  • Be careful not to eat too much added fiber at once; it may cause gas, bloating, cramping, or diarrhea.
  • Bottom line: It is best to get fiber from whole foods, however if you are not meeting the minimum recommended amount of fiber daily, then a supplement or eating foods with added fiber may be beneficial to your health.


Watch this video to learn more!



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