12 July, 2011
Fiber plays many important roles in the body. Getting enough of both soluble and insoluble fiber helps you maintain a healthy weight; reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer; and can keep your bowel movements regular. If you are not able to get enough fiber through diet by including foods such as prune juice, you may need to take supplements. However, there can be side effects from supplements, so you should only use them under a doctor's care.
Fiber can help reduce your risk of heart disease because it inhibits the body's ability to absorb cholesterol. A high-fiber diet also keeps your blood sugar level more steady and can aid in preventing and managing diabetes. Fiber keeps you feeling full, so it is an important part of a weight-loss program, and it also keeps food moving smoothly through your digestive system, so it helps control constipation. A general goal is that women should get 25 g and men should consume 38 g each day until reaching age 50, at which time women need 21 g and men need 30 g every day, says the American Dietetic Association.
A well balanced diet can easily help you meet your daily fiber needs. Soluble fiber can be obtained through eating oatmeal, oat bran, nuts and seeds, dry beans and peas, strawberries, blueberries, pears and apples, while insoluble fiber is found in whole wheat bread and cereals, brown rice, seeds, most vegetables and fruits, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Including prunes and prune juice in your diet can help, as a cup of prune juice or two medium prunes have 2 g of fiber each. Fiber needs to be added into the diet gradually to prevent cramping and bloating, and since prune juice is not a concentrated source, it can be a good way to add fiber in slowly.
While eating a well balanced diet should help you meet your fiber needs, there are times when taking supplements may be necessary. Fiber through either diet or pills can interfere with the absorption and effectiveness of some medications and may bind with certain nutrients, inhibiting them from being absorbed by the body, reports the Cleveland Clinic. Fiber supplements may have a higher concentration of fiber than a serving of food such as prune juice does, so supplements may add too much fiber to your diet too fast.
While fiber supplements can help you meet your needs and manage constipation, you should check with your doctor before taking them. Drinking at last 8 oz. of fluid whenever you take a fiber supplement can help your body tolerate it better. You may want to keep a food journal and keep track of how much fiber you get from your diet so that you only need to take enough supplements to meet your daily needs.
While prune juice may not contain high amounts of fiber, it may be a preferred way to get it if you are trying to relieve constipation, because dehydration can make constipation worse. Drinking prune juice can provide your body with fiber as well as liquid. Liquid adds fluid to the colon and bulk to stools, making bowel movements softer and easier to pass, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. In addition, prune juice acts as a natural laxative. Since everyone's medical history is different, the best bet is to talk to your doctor to see if fiber supplements are safe or if you would be better off including prune juice in your diet.
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