Question for Betty.

I don't really eat well. Mostly meat and potatoes from canned soup.  You know, college student stuff.  I take vitamins and make sure I get what I need and drink plenty of water, but I wanted to know if I should take a fiber supplement.  I don't always have the easiest time going to the bathroom, and was thinking it might help.  I've been told not to take laxatives consistently, or else you will become dependent on them.  Is this true for Psyllium Husk?  Is it safe for me to take Metamucil everyday, as it is cheaper than buying whole grain bread?

Betty's Answer.

Fiber supplements, such as psyllium husk/metamucil, would help you increase your fiber intake and help you avoid constipation. It is safe to take daily, and is often prescribed for help with hemorrhoids.  However, there is much more going on here that needs to be addressed. 

Your reported diet is just plain boring, low in fiber and nutrients, and high in salt.  A much healthier diet would include a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. A plant based diet helps fight obesity and illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes type 2 and cancer.  These foods contain soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol levels.  Diets high in fiber have also been linked to lower colon cancer risk.  Vegetables and fruits contain vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that help the body fight cancer, strengthen the body's immune system, and help to eliminate free radicals that damage DNA.

It is important to eat a wide variety of plant foods in order to get as many different kinds of phytochemicals as possible.  The recommendation is for 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily. The American Institute for Cancer Research encourages filling your plate with 2/3 or more of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans, and 1/3 or less of red meat, poultry or fish.

Whole grains and beans not only have healthy benefits, but they can be a bargain for your budget. For recipe ideas, stop by the Student Health & Counseling Center for free American Institute for Cancer Research brochures on New American Plate, One-Pot Meals, Veggies, Comfort Foods and Breakfast, or check out their website at .