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Increasing Fiber Consumption Could Lead to Billions of Dollars in Savings

Low fiber intake is associated with increased incidences of constipation. A recent study has determined that if the all adults in the US increased their fiber intake by 9 grams daily, up to $12.7 billion dollars in annual healthcare costs would be saved by reducing functional constipation.

By looking at previously published literature, the researchers were able to determine that up to 5% of the American population suffers from constipation. They also conducted literature searchers to calculate what proportion of American adults meet the recommended daily fiber intake, and what percentage would have reduced constipation if they increased their fiber intake.

They found that each 1 gram per day increase in fiber intake could result in a 1.9% reduction in constipation overall. If 50% of US adults increased their fiber intake by 3 grams per day, the annual savings in medical costs would be higher than $2 billion.

The study was commissioned by Kellogg, and recommended that people eat more breakfast cereals and snack bars because they are the most convenient way to consume more fiber.

Researchers from Exponent, Inc., conducted the study. It was published on April 17, 2014, in BMC Public Health.

Previous studies have linked fiber consumption with lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, and regulating blood sugar for people with diabetes.

There are two type of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can be found naturally in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium. Insoluble fiber can be found in whole wheat and grains, brown rice, fruit, broccoli, cabbage and dark leafy vegetables.

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