Fiber Roughs It Out (cont.)

A Defense Against Diverticulitis

Fiber could even cut into the number of Americans -- about half of those over 60 -- who develop a painful condition called diverticulitis, which occurs when outpouchings in the intestinal wall become inflamed or infected. In results reported in the November 1994 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the risk for fiber-eating males of developing diverticulitis was about half that of men who didn't eat much fiber.

Convinced? Don't jump in too fast. Incorporate fiber into your diet gradually to prevent the gas and bloating that can occur if your body is unaccustomed to digesting fiber in large amounts. And drink at least 8 cups of water daily to keep the fiber moving through your system.

And while the jury is still out on fiber's ability to prevent other diseases such as breast cancer, the scientific evidence, on balance, backs fiber's disease-preventing potency. Fiber's not glamorous. Disguised in shiny red apples and the crispy sweetness of garden fresh carrots, this beleaguered, shunned, and sometimes unappreciated nutrient can be quite a treasure. But regardless of how you see it, fiber still reigns.

Medically updated July 15, 2003.

Originally published March 27, 2000.

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