High fiber eating plan

Close up of washed baby spinach

Dietary fiber (or roughage) is the undigestible portion of plants. Fiber is usually found in the seeds, fruits, roots, stems, flowers and leaves of plants. There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber lowers cholesterol and fiber, in general, provides satiety.

Fiber totally lacks nutrients and contains no calories for energy, but it does have an important function. Increasing fiber and fluids in the diet creates larger, softer stools resulting in greater distention of the bowel. This causes the colon to contract more and propel its contents more quickly. The larger stool volume reduces pain and cramping.

The High Fiber Eating Plan

Eat adequate amounts of foods which are high in fiber.

Include at least:

  • 3 to 4 servings of high fiber breads, cereals, and starches
  • 2 to 3 servings of high fiber vegetables
  • 2 to 3 servings of high fiber fruits

Whole grain breads and cereals and wheat bran are the major sources of dietary fiber and appear to have a greater laxative effect than fruits and vegetables. To achieve frequent bowel movements without straining, it may be necessary to increase the amount of fiber by adding milled or unprocessed bran to the diet. The amount of bran required must be determined by trial and error.

Unprocessed bran can be added to the diet by mixing in soup or milk or by sprinkling on cereal and other foods. It can be added to products such as meat loaf, meat patties, muffins, pancakes, breads and rolls. Unprocessed bran may cause distention and increased gas formation, but this generally disappears as the patient adjusts to the diet.

Drink at least 2.5 quarts (10 cups) of fluid each day.

Too little fluid in the high fiber diet may cause dehydration and lead to constipation. It is essential to drink large quantities of water when consuming large amounts of unprocessed bran.

Select additional foods to complete a balanced diet.

  • 4 to 5 ounces of meat, poultry, fish, cheese or eggs
  • 2 cups of milk or servings of dairy products (yogurt, cheese)

Eat three meals each day.