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Western diets generally provide approximately 10 grams of fiber per day. People in less-developed countries consume 40 to 60 grams per day. Increasing fiber intake to the amounts found in such diets may be desirable.
Whole grains are particularly high in insoluble fiber. Oats, barley, beans, fruit (but not fruit juice), psyllium, chia seed, and some vegetables contain significant amounts of both forms of fiber and are the best sources of soluble fiber. The best source of lignan, by far, is flaxseed (not flaxseed oil, regardless of packaging claims to the contrary).
Most people who consume a typical Western diet are fiber-deficient. Eating white flour, white rice, and fruit juice (as opposed to whole fruit) all contribute to this problem. Many so-called wheat products contain mostly white flour. Read labels and avoid “flour” and “unbleached flour,” both of which are simply white flour. Junk food is also fiber-depleted. The diseases listed above are more likely to occur with low-fiber diets.
The benefits of eating whole grains are largely derived from the beneficial constituents present in the outer layers of the grains, which are stripped away in making white flour and white rice. Preliminary research has found that women who ate mostly whole grains had a lower mortality rate than women who ate a comparable amount of refined grains.1
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2017.