Q:

Why is fiber good for you?

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Quick Answer

Fiber is good for relieving constipation and may help prevent hemorrhoids and diverticular disease. Fiber is also known as bulk or roughage, and it helps lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. It also helps people achieve a healthier weight and control blood sugar levels, which lowers the risk of diabetes.

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Full Answer

Dietary fiber, which passes through the body undigested, is most often found in whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Soluble fiber and insoluble fiber are the two categories of roughage. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, binds to fatty acids and slows digestion. Insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water, softens the stool and adds weight to it, helping move it through the colon. It also helps control intestinal pH levels. Fiber may prevent colorectal cancer. The average daily intake of fiber is just 15 grams, but the Institute of Medicine’s daily fiber recommendations for adults is much higher. Men under age 50 should get 38 grams of fiber daily, while women in the same age group should have 25 grams per day. The recommendations drop to 30 grams of fiber per day for men over age 51 and 21 grams per day for women in the same age range.

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