How to become a “regular” guy or gal

An important aspect of colon health is a diet rich in fiber.

Even though fiber contains no nutrients, vitamins or minerals, it adds bulk to help keep other foods moving through the digestive system. Fiber also absorbs and holds water, which softens the stool for easier elimination. Here are the recommended amounts of fiber for men and women:

MEN AGES 19-50

38g of fiber

(BASED ON 2700 cal/day)

WOMEN AGES 19-50

25g of fiber

(BASED ON 1700 cal/day)

MEN AGES 50+

30g of fiber

(BASED ON 2100 cal/day)

WOMEN AGES 50+

21g of fiber

(BASED ON 1500 cal/day)

If you’re like most of us, you only eat around half the daily recommended amount of fiber. Go ahead, grab those cereal boxes and count it up and you’ll see it’s true.

To increase the amount of fiber in your diet, you should eat a variety of high-fiber foods during the day, including fruits and vegetables. There are two kinds of fiber, both of which are needed to maintain a healthy colon:

The Two Kinds of Fiber: Soluble vs. Insoluble

Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber helps soften stools and decrease cholesterol.  Good sources include oats, beans, peas and many types of fruit.

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber moves through your digestive system mostly intact, keeping you regular by bulking up the stool. Good sources include wheat bran, whole-grain cereals and breads, as well as many types of vegetables.

As a start on the road to regularity, consider trying this:

Replace white bread with whole-grain bread and white rice with brown rice. Trade off a candy bar or bag of chips for an apple or some raisins. You can do it.

Then, try to eat some high-fiber foods at every meal. A whole-grain cereal at breakfast, carrot sticks with your lunch, and brown rice or beans with dinner.

Don’t try to do it all at once, however. Add the fiber gradually to your diet. It may take several weeks for you to determine the right combinations of foods that work for you.

The goal is to become a “regular” guy or gal, because the more regular you are, the less likely you are to develop any colorectal problems at all.