Proper National Fiber intake may reducetherisk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity in addition to being beneficial for treating or preventing constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticulosis.
One of the ways the body eliminates cholesterol is through the excretion of bile acids. Water-soluble fiber such as pectin and fiber found in rolled oats helps to bind these bile acids. By increasing the fiber intake one not only increase the amount of fiber available to bind these bile acids but also increase the speed at which they pass through one’s system. Since there is a direct correlation between low blood cholesterol and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, increased fiber intake is a first natural step in helping to control and/or lower a blood cholesterol.
– Diabetes. Meat, chicken, fish and diary products do not contain fiber. Dietary fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. This is also the main source for sugars which are carbohydrates. The more refined the carbohydrate the lower the fiber content and the higher the sugar effect. Choosing high fiber fruits, vegetables, and grains will slow down the absorption of sugar from the small intestines into the blood stream to help keep the blood sugar at a normal level. Insulin is used by the body to help regulate blood sugar level. If one can regulate one’s blood sugar at the entry level then the pancreas doesn’t have to work as hard to produce insulin.
– Cancer. The liver is the detoxification center and it uses bile to help remove these toxins from the body system. As discussed above, water-soluble fiber helps to bind these bile acids for proper elimination fromhumansystem. Lack of fiber allows these toxins to sit in the colon longer as well as provides a window for them to be absorbed back into the system. This increases one’s risk for colon cancer.
– Obesity. Fiber, by itself, has no calories. Combining water, with a diet high in fiber, helps to fill up faster so that he/she eats less and potentially lose weight or at least prevent weight gain. In a Northwestern and Harvard University study of more than 74,000 female nurses, those who added the most fruits and vegetables to their diet lowered their risk for weight gain by 28 percent.
What is Dietary Fiber?
Dietary fiber is found only in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. It is that portion of the plant that is not digested by the enzymes in your intestinal tract. This insoluble fiber binds water to make stools softer and bulkier. Typically, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables contain just as much fiber as raw ones. However, some types of refining processes may reduce the fiber content. Current food labeling requires the amount of dietary fiber to be listed. It will be listed just below the “Total Carbohydrate” portion of the Nutrition Facts section of the product label. For a manufacturer to make fiber claims it must meet the following guidelines:
– High Fiber: 5 grams or more per serving
– Good Source of Fiber: 2.5 – 4.9 grams per serving
– More or Added Fiber: At least 2.5 grams more per serving than the reference food
3 Simple and Effective Steps to Increasing the Fiber Intake!
When most people hear the concept of increasing their fiber intake they immediately think about eating multigrain breads and a lot of lettuce. This is not what their culinary taste buds are going to get excited about. Plus, it is not the most effective way to increase the fiber intake. The following 3 steps are designed to be realistic so that everyone can achieve the goal of increased fiber intake and be able to do it long term.
Step 1 – Examine the Diet. One may like bread, cereal, pasta, rice, and maybe a vegetable. By making some simple changes one could drastically increase one’s fiber intake while still enjoying your same meals.
– Bread: 1 slice of white bread has .6 grams of fiber where as 1 slice of whole-wheat bread has 1.9 grams of fiber. Figuring two slices of bread for the sandwich, one just increased the fiber intake from 1.2 grams to 3.8 grams.
– Cereal: By switching to 100% All Bran one just increases the fiber intake to 17.6 grams of fiber. Too much fiber and not enough taste than try Raisin Bran at 5 grams per 1 cup serving.
– Pasta: 1 cup of uncooked pasta typically has 2 grams of fiber. Switching to 1 cup of Barilla PLUS pasta and the fiber intake increased to 7 grams of fiber. One can add a ½ cup of tomato sauce on top andthisadd another 3 grams of fiber. What would have been a “5 grams of fiber” meal has now become “10 grams of fiber” with no loss in taste.
– Rice: 1 cup of cooked white rice is 2 grams of fiber. Switching to 1 cup of cooked brown rice give 5 grams of fiber.
– Vegetable: Some people think they need to add broccoli or cauliflower to their meal to increase their fiber and it turns them off. Broccoli has 2.3 grams of fiber and cauliflower has 2.5 grams of fiber per cup. Switching to 1 cup of corn gives 3.9 grams of fiber, 1 cup of green beans is 4.0 grams of fiber, and 1 cup of peas is 6.8 grams of fiber. So, instead of having a salad which has 1 cup of iceberg lettuce at .7 grams of fiber one could skip the salad and add a vegetable that gives 8 times the value in fiber.
Step 2 – Add Fiber. There are a couple of simple ways to add fiber to the daily intake of food without adding loads of calories.
Breakfast: A medium banana added to the top of the cereal is 3 grams of fiber. A cup of strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries would range from 3.3 to 4.5 grams of fiber.
– Snack: Instead of going to the vending machine for a candy bar or bag of chips why not eat a medium pear at 88 calories and 5 grams of fiber or a large apple at 90 calories and 4.5 grams of fiber.
– Meal: Maybe it’s time to try some new additions to the meal like 1 cup of lentils or black beans at 15 grams of fiber, baked beans at 10.4 grams of fiber, 1 medium baked potato with the skin at 4.4 grams of fiber, or a sweet potato without the skin at 7.5 grams of fiber.
Incorporating some of the changes and additions listed so far one could see the following improvements in one’s overall fiber intake:
+ A breakfast of cereal and toast could go from 1 to 3 grams of fiber to 9 to 21 grams of fiber.
+ A mid-morning snack could go from 1 gram of fiber to 4 to 5 grams of fiber.
+ A sandwich at lunch could go from 1 to 3 grams of fiber to 4 to 15 grams of fiber.
+ A mid-afternoon snack could go from 1 gram of fiber to 4 to 5 grams of fiber.
+ A dinner meal could go from 5 to 7 grams of fiber to 9 to 15 grams of fiber.
Just by making some simple changes in one’s food selection, one could go from 9-15 grams of fiber to 30-61 grams of fiber.
Step 3 – Take a Supplement. There is some controversy in this area regarding the use of fiber supplements. But, if oneis not willing to make the simple changes discussed in Steps 1 & 2, then talk with a qualified physician who can give some guidance in this area. Typically, one tablespoon of an over-the-counter fiber supplement has 15 grams of fiber. Most people take their supplement at night after their evening meal. Supplements are not meant to be used as a laxative which is where most of the controversy occurs. They are only meant to be used as a supplement for those who are not getting the proper amount of dietary fiber from their diet.
Two Important Notes!
Proper water intake is fundamental to this whole process of fiber intake. On the one hand, fiber can be extremely useful in preventing constipation. But, fiber taken in the absence of adequate water intake can also be binding to cause severe constipation. As repeatedly said, proper water intake is the number one key to improving the overall health and wellness. Bringing in the proper amount of fiber with the proper amount of water will be a benefit to helping you achieve a higher level of wellness.
Due to its complexity, laboratory technicians have not yet been able to ascertain the exact fiber content in many foods. Because of this, one may find discrepancies from one fiber source to another. Add to the fact that there are varying sizes of fruits and vegetable as well as growing conditions, and one can begin to understand why there might be some variations in the number of grams of fiber listed for different food items.
If not used to eating high fiber foods then make changes gradually to allow the body to adjust. Anyone with a chronic disease should always consult their physician first before they alter their diet. With guidance and using some simple steps to incorporate more fiber into the main diet, Get Randy from American Idol to say, “It’s the Bomb, Baby!”