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The Big Number: Only 7 percent of adults are consuming the right amount of fiber

by Mary Sewell

Most Americans are ignoring health advice to “eat more fiber.” Just 7 percent of adults — about 5 percent of men and 9 percent of women — are consuming the recommended amount, according to research presented at the annual conference of the American Society for Nutrition. Fiber is most often thought of as a food component that aids digestion and prevents constipation, but it adds bulk that makes you feel full faster, thus helping control weight.


Fiber also has been shown to help lower the risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Current health guidelines recommend 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed daily. This means about 25 grams of fiber a day for women 50 and under and 38 grams for men. Targets for those older than 50 are 21 grams daily for women and 30 for men. The new research, however, found that women are consuming about 10 grams per 1,000

Calories and men just under 9 grams. The findings were based on five years of data on 14,640 adults participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, an ongoing study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Good sources of dietary fiber include whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Refined or processed foods have less fiber, so fresh foods are recommended. People adding fiber to their diet are generally advised to slowly to avoid gas, bloating, and cramps while the body adjusts to the change. And be sure to drink plenty of water.

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