Fiber helps the digestive track perform at its peak, thereby allowing you to flush waste and toxins from your body and – voila – lose weight. But what many people don’t know is that fiber has many more benefits beyond weight loss.

A recent study found that fiber may also lower your risk of dying from cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases. A new study, recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that over a nine-year period, people who ate a fiber-rich diet decreased their risk of dying when compared to people who did not incorporate more fiber into their diet.

Delving into Fiber

The fiber study, which was performed by the National Institutes of Health and AARP, studied 219,000 men and 169,000 men from 50 to 71. The study showed that people who ate at least 26 grams of fiber were 22 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases than those people who consumed the least amount of fiber (13 grams or less a day).

The study also showed that individuals who received their fiber from grains enjoyed the most benefits. The study did have its share of limitations, though, such as those people who ate more fiber each day were also likely to have better overall diets.

How Much Fiber is Enough?

The Federal dietary guidelines recommend that people following a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet should get at least 28 grams of fiber, but many people simply don’t know how to incorporate this much fiber into their diet. This is probably why most Americans consume just 11 grams of fiber per day, on average.

The good news, however, is that the Food and Drug Administration now requires fiber to be listed on the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels, thereby making the task of consuming more fiber an easier one.

Easy Ways to Add Fiber

If you are looking to add more fiber in your diet, but you’re not sure where to start, here are some easy ways to begin incorporating fiber in your diet so that you, too, can begin to reap the health benefits:

  • Eating fiber-rich foods is the best way to consume fiber, as fiber supplements usually contain only a single type of fiber, such as methylcellulose and psyllium.
  • Refer to the USDA’s food pyramid as a guide. If you follow the food pyramid and eat at least 2 to 4 servings of fruit, 3 to 5 servings of vegetables and 6 to 11 servings of whole grains and cereals each day, you will likely easily reach your goal of 28 grams of fiber each day.
  • A great way to begin each day is with a bowl of fiber-rich cereal that is topped with fresh berries. Aim to eat cereal that contains at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
  • Raw vegetables are always a better source of fiber than their cooked counterparts, so go raw whenever possible. If you do cook vegetables, steam them lightly; don’t cook them until they are tender.

Indeed, fiber is great for helping you to lose weight – and live much longer too!

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