Digestion : Study: High-fiber Diets Save on Healthcare

According to the National Institutes of Health, occasional constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints in the United States, affecting more than 40 million people annually and costing billions in total medical expenses—from doctor visits and treatments to the expense of lost work days.

The good news? Results of a new study published this month in the journal BMC Public Health show boosting your daily fiber intake can not only have a positive impact on your digestive health—but on your wallet.‡

Analyzing data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers looked at factors such as daily fiber consumption and the prevalence of symptoms associated with occasional constipation, as well as medical costs before and after increased dietary fiber intake. Here's what they found:

  • A potential healthcare savings of $12.7 billion annually if U.S. adults increased their daily intake of dietary fiber to approximately 25 grams.
  • And if just half of Americans boosted their daily fiber intake by just 3 grams, we could still see more than $2 billion in annual health care savings.

But despite fiber's role in healthy digestion and elimination—as well as its link to healthy cardiovascular function, appetite control and more‡—the majority of Americans are getting enough fiber in their diets. Natural digestive care and nutrition expert Brenda Watson recommends at least 35 grams of fiber daily and offers two simple ways to increase your daily fiber intake:

  • Increase your consumption of low-sugar fruits and non-starchy vegetables; and
  • Add a fiber supplement to be sure you reach the recommended daily amounts.

Your digestive system (and your whole body) will thank you!

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