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Fiber is necessary to maintain good health but because of its predominance in prepared whole grain foods, individuals on wheat- or gluten-free diets may have difficulty getting enough fiber. Many of the high-fiber sources of prepared foods, such as sandwich bread, cereal, and snack bars, are off-limits to people suffering from celiac disease, wheat allergy, or gluten intolerance. Fortunately there are plenty of gluten-free fiber sources that can fit well with any diet.
Many fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fiber and naturally contain no gluten. Raspberries, pears, artichokes, peas, and broccoli rank among the higher fiber content per serving. When it comes to gluten-free grain sources of fiber, rice and corn are good, although they are lower in fiber per serving than wheat and rye. Finally, legumes such as lentils, black beans, lima beans, and sunflower seeds are all excellent gluten-free fiber sources. Opting to include these foods as part of a regular diet is a good way to add fiber without the gluten.
When following a reduced gluten or gluten-free diet, the absence of whole grains such as wheat, barley and rye can reduce dietary fiber, especially in individuals who previously consumed a great deal of processed prepared foods. Some research has found that those who maintain a gluten-free diet may consume inadequate amounts of fiber. Fiber is essential to good digestive health and also plays an important role in weight management. Whole foods like fruits, vegetables and legumes can increase dietary fiber if consumed regularly and are the best choice of gluten-free fiber sources. Anyone concerned about their fiber intake should talk to a nutritionist.
There are also gluten-free fiber supplements available. Pay close attention to the labels on store products as some do contain wheat. Options include water-soluble powder, wafers, and capsules. If a product’s ingredient label lists wheat or unspecified modified food starch, look for a different product or check with the manufacturer. Fiber wafers and bars contain wheat more often than not, but some health food stores offer gluten-free fiber bars. Research products carefully if you are uncertain and speak to a pharmacist or nutritionist if you have questions about the contents of store products.
While a gluten-free diet may make adequate fiber intake challenging, incorporating high fiber whole food choices into your diet is the best way to make up for the lack of fiber after eliminating whole grain foods. Try to incorporate a little bit of each food group into a regular diet and use supplements only if natural sources are not enough.
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