A Lexington, Kentucky columnist recommends fiber for promoting good health. Sharon Wallace, a dietician who writes a column for the Lexington Herald Leader, tells readers in a recent column that fiber-rich diets offer a wide range of health benefits. Wallace is chief clinical dietician at Baptist Health in Lexington, Kentucky.
Beginning with digestive health, Wallace cites scientific research that fiber-rich diets, combined with adequate fluid, helps prevent constipation and diarrhea. In most kinds of diarrhea, she writes, extra fluid is needed to replace fluid lost and extra fiber is needed to help form a solid stool. Enough fluid and fiber also helps prevent the weakened, disfigured bowel wall that develops in up to 30 percent of Americans by the age of 50, and 66 percent by age 85, according to Wallace.
High fiber diets help lower the risk of obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, says Wallace.
Her column recommends daily intake of fiber of about 25 grams per day for most women and 38 grams per day for most men, equal to 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories in the diet. For children, she recommends grams of fiber equal to the child’s age plus 5 grams. A 10-year-old would need 15 grams of fiber per day.
Wallace writes that most of us get less than half the recommended amount of fiber because our diets lack fiber-rich plant foods, such as true whole grain breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables, dry beans, nuts and seeds. She notes that the label “whole grain” may not guarantee high fiber; to be an excellent source of fiber, good sources will have 2.5 to 5 grams per serving.
Initially, adults may want to take at least 8 to 10 cups of fluid each day and try 1 to 2 servings of high fiber food per day for 1 to 3 days, writes Wallace, before increasing to up to 6 servings or more per day.
Wallace suggests menu substitutions to increase fiber including whole grains with bran instead of processed grains, brown rice instead of white rice, whole fruit in place of juice, extra vegetables in soups and stews, and dried beans added to salads or pureed to use as dips.