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Fiber Facts

How much fiber do I need a day?

Believe it or not, experts suggest 20 to 35 grams a day, which is equivalent to 10 or more apples, oranges or pears.

What is the most effective way to add fiber to the diet?

By replacing a high-fat, low-fiber foods with high-fiber ones. You can do this by eating whole-grain bread instead of white bread, eating vegetables such as broccoli with your dinner, and eating fruits unpeeled instead of peeled.

At what rate should I add fiber to my diet?

In the beginning, go slowly. Too much too soon can cause gas and abdominal pain. It can take several weeks to add the recommended amount of bulk to the diet. While you're working on it, drink plenty of fluids.

Your general rule of thumb should be at least one serving of whole grain in every meal. Try this sample menu:
  • Breakfast: Cereal and/or toast. Make sure the first name on your cereals and breads is Whole-Grain.

    Lunch: Sandwich on whole-grain bread.

    Snack: Apple or raisins. Skip the candy bar, or at least cut back.

    Dinner: Broiled chicken and steamed broccoli. Wheat rolls.
Also increase your intake of vegetables and fruit. You should be getting 3 servings of each every day. Try a sliced banana on your cereal, substitute carrot sticks for chips as a lunch side, and crunch on a salad for dinner. Wherever possible, eat the peels, (you're off the hook with bananas and oranges).

There are possible downsides to increasing fiber. Some high fiber foods can produce excessive gas or bloating. Take in too much fiber too soon and you could suffer from bloating or abdominal cramps.

Remember, whenever you change your diet, for whatever reason, do it gradually. Let your body adjust. And check in with your doctor if you experience any discomfort.

This article is reproduced from Partner's Magazine with the permission of AIM International

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