Dietary Guidance For Dietary Fiber

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Dietary guidance recommendations generally agree that Americans should increase their consumption of dietary fiber. For example, Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends "... choose a diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, and grain products." Recommended Dietary Allowances, 10th edition, suggests we ". . . achieve a desirable fiber intake by consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole-grain cereals." Other general recommendations for increased dietary fiber intake are given in the Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health (7) and Diet and Health, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences(8).

Specific recommendations for dietary fiber intake are offered by some organizations. In Physiological Effects and Health Consequences of Dietary Fiber, Life Sciences Research Office, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the recommendation is to consume a wide variety of whole-grain products, fruits, and vegetables, leading to a dietary fiber intake range of 20 to 35 g/day (10-13 g/1000 kcal) for the healthy adult population (9). The American Dietetic Association (ADA) states that ". . . although a recommended dietary allowance for fiber has not been established, the current evidence suggests that high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets containing 20 to 35 grams dietary fiber per day g from a variety of food sources may be beneficial for health promotion and disease j risk reduction in the healthy adult population of the United States"(10). The ADA t?

note that this recommendation is not appropriate for the pediatric or geriatric populations. Food, not dietary fiber supplements, provides the best means of increasing daily consumption of both soluble and insoluble fiber. The practice of taking fiber supplements to replace consumption of high-carbohydrate, nutrient-dense foods is not supported at this time by any health care authorities as a component of a balanced diet. In 1991 the United Kingdom issued recommendations for dietary fiber that state that ". . . diets should contain an average of 18 g/day (range of 12-24) non-starch polysaccharide (NSP) from a variety of foods whose constituents contain it as a naturally integrated component"(11).

Dietary Guidelines

Despite widespread acceptance that dietary fiber intakes are too low and need to be approximately doubled, little progress has been seen in increasing dietary fiber consumption in this country. Dietary fiber intake has been estimated at about 12 grams per day in the United States. A recent study found no increase in dietary fiber consumption despite widespread nutrition education efforts to increase dietary fiber consumption (12). A recent technical report on modeling nutrition intake by the USDA's Economic Research Service found that nutritional education strategies emphasizing general attitudinal messages such as five-a-day intake are likely to have greater effect in modifying dietary patterns than strategies emphasizing specialized knowledge about the nutrient content of foods. Higher intakes of dietary fiber consumption were also linked to years of formal education and consumption of a vegetarian diet.

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