How to Increase Your Fiber Intake (and Avoid Constipation)

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Given that most American adults do not get enough fiber, it's likely you should be getting more of it. There are almost limitless ways to increase your fiber intake. Try out some of the suggestions below.

When increasing your fiber intake, it's important to take it slowly. Add just a few grams more every few days to allow the intestinal tract to adjust. Abdominal cramps, gas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation may result if you increase fiber intake too fast.

You should also increase the amount of fluid you drink because fiber absorbs water. Aim to drink at least two quarts of water daily.

Here are some easy ways to increase your fiber intake:

  • Eat high-fiber breakfast cereals. Add one to two tablespoons of unprocessed bran and wheat germ for extra fiber, or try adding nuts, dried fruits and seeds.
  • Eat whole-grain breads instead of white or those made primarily with processed wheat flour.
  • Don’t peel fruits and vegetables – much of the fiber content is in the skin!
  • Snack on fruits, nuts, and seeds.
  • Add bran (barley/wheat/rice) or soy grits to soups, casseroles, yogurt, desserts, cookies, cakes.
  • Exercise regularly to strengthen the abdominal muscles and stimulate the gut.
  • Read food labels for fiber content.
  • Add beans to soups, stews and salads.
  • Get plenty of fluids as fiber absorbs water!
  • Eat bean- or lentil-based dishes in place of meat-based ones a couple of times a week.
  • Eat whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juice.
  • Snack on raw vegetables instead of chips, crackers, or chocolate bars.
  • Experiment with international dishes that use whole-grains and legumes as part of the main meal. For example, Dal curries (lentils) and Tabouli salad (bulgur wheat).