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Only 7% of adults are consuming the right amount of fiber

This undated photo provided by the National Institutes of Health in June 2019 shows an “ultra-processed” lunch including brand name macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders, canned green beans and diet lemonade. Researchers found people ate an average of 500 extra calories a day when fed mostly processed foods, compared with when the same people were fed minimally processed foods. That’s even though researchers tried to match the meals for nutrients like fat, fiber and sugar. (Paule Joseph Shavonne Pocock / AP)
This undated photo provided by the National Institutes of Health in June 2019 shows an “ultra-processed” lunch including brand name macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders, canned green beans and diet lemonade. Researchers found people ate an average of 500 extra calories a day when fed mostly processed foods, compared with when the same people were fed minimally processed foods. That’s even though researchers tried to match the meals for nutrients like fat, fiber and sugar. (Paule Joseph Shavonne Pocock / AP)
By Linda Searing Special to the Washington Post

Most Americans are ignoring health advice to “eat more fiber.” Just 7% of adults – about 5% of men and 9% 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 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 ages 50 and younger 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 do so 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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