Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Fiber: How to Increase Fiber in Your Diet


Am Fam Physician. 2004 Feb 15;69(4):930.

Why should I eat more fiber?

Eating foods that are high in fiber can help relieve some problems with constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, and irritable bowel syndrome. Dietary fiber may help lower your cholesterol levels. It also may help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain kinds of cancer.

How can I get more fiber in my diet?

You might try the following ideas for increasing fiber in your diet:

  • Replace white bread with whole-grain breads and cereals. Eat brown rice instead of white rice. Eat more of the following foods:

    Bran muffins

    Brown rice

    Multiple-grain cereals, cooked or dry


    100 percent whole-wheat bread


  • Eat bran cereal for breakfast. Check package labels for the amounts of dietary fiber in each brand. Some cereals have less fiber than you might think.

  • Add ¼ cup of wheat bran (also called miller's bran) to foods such as cooked cereal, applesauce, or meat loaf. You can buy this in health food stores and many grocery stores.

  • Eat cooked beans each week.

  • Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber include:





    Brussel sprouts




    Green peas




Start slowly

Many people notice bloating, cramping, or gas when they start to add fiber to their diet. Making small changes in your diet over a period of time can help prevent this. Start with one of the changes listed above, then wait several days to a week before making another change. If one change does not seem to work for you, try a different one.

It is important to drink more fluids when you increase the amount of fiber you eat. If you do not already drink more than six glasses of liquid a day, drink at least two more glasses of water a day when you increase your fiber intake.

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2004 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

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