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Add some of these foods to your plate to increase the fiber in your diet

Although an exact cause-and-effect relationship between dietary fiber and colorectal cancer risk is difficult to establish, research suggests dietary fiber may be linked with a lower risk of colorectal cancer. It is not clear whether it is the fiber itself or another component of high-fiber foods that is responsible for the link. But based in part on these findings, the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute and the Food and Drug Administration recommend high fiber diets (approximately 20-35 grams of fiber a day). It is suggested you get your fiber from foods and not dietary supplements.

Colon cancer is the 3rd most common type of cancer in the United States, excluding skin cancers. Dietary fiber contributes to colon health by helping to prevent constipation and reducing the risk of polyps, hemorrhoids and pouches in the colon.

And what’s good for the colon is good for the rest of the body, too. High-fiber diets may also help you control blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and achieve a healthy weight.

To add more fiber to your diet, here’s a good rule to follow: Fill half of your plate with fiber-rich vegetables or fruits and one quarter of your plate with whole grains, beans or nuts, which also contain fiber. Then fill the final quarter with a source of protein. This can include animal protein, such as fish, poultry or meat, or you can go with a plant-based protein to up the fiber content even more. Keep in mind that eating too much red or processed meat may increase your risk of colorectal cancer.

If you need some incentive to modify your diet, consider this: It’s estimated that some colorectal cancers in the U.S. may be prevented by following an overall healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight.

Fiber-Rich Foods

Here are a few foods that should find a place on your plate:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains, including breads, cereals, rice and pasta
  • Beans, peas and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds

Fiber works best when it absorbs water, so drink plenty of fluids, preferably water. And if you haven’t been including much fiber in your diet up until now, add it in slowly so it doesn’t cause intestinal discomfort. Your body needs to adapt to increases in fiber gradually.

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Date Last Reviewed: January 14, 2019

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Gina Reiss, RD

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