Tag Archives: Fiber

Are You Eating Enough Fiber?

There is an abundance of commercials touting the benefits of fiber in your diet. So, what is fiber and why is it important?

Fiber-rich Foods
Image by Annata 78

It is interesting that fiber is actually an indigestible component of many foods – including fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. Unlike most foods that we eat, the body does not digest it. It passes quickly through the digestive tract essentially whole (there is no breakdown of fiber), which is vital for good health. The fiber creates bulk which helps move waste and harmful carcinogens through the digestive tract.

When your diet does not have enough fiber you may suffer with some uncomfortable problems: constipation, sluggishness and irregularity. On the other hand, people who eat lots of fiber typically maintain healthier weights than those who do not; and it lowers the risk of developing  heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer.

The reason that foods with lots of fiber help with weight control is because they make you feel full longer. A good example of this is apples (loaded with fiber) – think about how they fill you up, satisfy your hunger and are low in calories. When shopping, keep in mind that fiber-rich foods have less calories per serving than highly processed foods that essentially have very little fiber.

Don’t be misguided into thinking that processed fruit juices are good for you. People often make the mistake of substituting bottled apple juice for soda – thinking they are making a healthier choice.  Unfortunately, most pasteurized fruit juices have been stripped of their nutrients and contain a high-sugar content. In other words, they aren’t much healthier than soda, if at all.

Make the smart choice and eat the fruit rather than buying processed juices. The very best beverage is filtered water. The only other beverage I would recommend is freshly made fruit and vegetable juices. These are filled with nutrients and the pulp will fill your up and provide fiber at the same time.

Get rid of overly processed TV dinners and prepackaged foods and start serving high-fiber foods for diner. That single change in your diet will go a long way in helping you maintain a healthy weight. And . . . as I continue to say – choose foods as close to their natural state as possible. For example, eat broccoli raw or lightly steamed until it is bright green and slightly crunchy. Steaming vegetables not only helps retain the nutrients, it also retains the fiber and water content, both of which help you feel full longer.

Image by fo2Trends
Image by fo2Trends

A healthy habit is to start every meal with a raw fruit plate, veggie plate, mixed salad, or a glass of freshly made vegetable/fruit juice. Take it easy on the salad dressings and/or dip, which can add extra sugar and fat negating  the nutritional value of the veggies.

One way to limit the high-fat  salad dressings is to serve it on the side and dip the tongs of the fork into the dressing before picking up pieces of salad. This provides a crunching, tasty bite without  the excess dressing. When you get used to eating salad this way, you will wonder why it took you so long to discover it. Chances are you will cut your salad dressing serving from two or thee tablespoons to less than one.

You can make delicious  dressings from fruit and spices. Try blending mango, tomatoes, onions, basil and garlic. You can create salad magic with your blender and amaze your family and friends with the tasty combinations you create.

Change your mindset and when you need a snack, reach for raw fruits and veggies. It is impossible to over eat these wonderfully crunchy, fiber-filled, nutrient-filled, low-calorie foods. I guarantee that you will feel better than when you devour a plate of cheese and crackers or half a bag of potato chips between meals – and you won’t be eating very many calories to boot.

What Causes Constipation?

Image by hunterseakerhk
Image by hunterseakerhk

Constipation is one of the more common digestive ailments. It is right up there with heartburn, acid reflux, and stomach pain. Many people struggle with the problem, but it is not something typically discussed in polite conversation – they simply suffer in silence. Some are even hesitant to talk to their doctors about it and try to self-medicate with OTC drugs – some that help and some that can make the problem worse.

The root of most constipation problems is diet – especially today where many diets are primarily sugar-filled, nutrient-empty calories and a lack of fiber.

Constipation can be easily resolved by eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, plus 100% whole grains to ensure that you are getting an adequate amount of fiber in your diet.

Unfortunately, the majority of people eat less than one-half the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables. I have no idea who started the idea that you should not eat much fruit, but that popular trend is alive and well. My recommendation is to forget about such nonsense and enjoy nature’s bounteous harvest.

Everyone has heard, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” There is actually some truth in that. Apples are not only good for you, they are delicious and filled with nutrients and fiber. There are so many varieties you should be able to find one (or two) that suit your particular taste buds.  My favorites are Gala and Fuji.

I realize that fruit can be a little pricey, but even if you cannot afford a wide variety of fruits,  an orange a day, an apple a day, plus – a ripe banana and a slice of 100 percent whole grain toast each day, will improve your digestion exponentially. That practice, along with drinking plenty of filtered water, should end any problems you are having with constipation. If you have been eating badly for a long time, it may take a few weeks for your body to catch up, especially if you have been adding laxatives to the mix.

Basic Steps to Cure Constipation (And Feel Better Overall)

  • Add nutrient-filled, fiber foods to your diet
  • Drink lots of water (6 to 8 glasses each day)
  • Avoid all processed food
  • Move your body in some form of exercise at least 15 to 20 minutes each day
  • Take time to relax and go

Two habits that can help relieve the problem:

  1. Take a relaxing walk each day.
  2. Try to move your bowels at approximately the same time each day. Believe it or not, you can train your bowels to move at a convenient time of day. Don’t avoid the urge to move your bowels. Putting off bowel movement is one of the primary causes of constipation. Once you establish the habit of going when you need to go and slowly become more regular, you will be able to try going in the morning before work, or at night after dinner.

Good luck and good health!

Enjoy a Fiber-Rich Diet

Why a Fiber-Rich Diet Is Important

Fiber-rich Foods
Image by annata78

Fiber is a necessary component of your daily diet because it aids in proper digestion and facilitates a healthy lifestyle.

Fiber boosts the body’s immunity and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and helps control blood cholesterol levels. Fiber is also a significant factor in weight loss and acts as a check against obesity.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that men between the ages of 19 and 50 get about 38 grams of fiber daily; men over 50 should get at least 30 grams. The recommendation for women age 19 to 50 is at least 25 grams and for women over 50, at least 21 grams.

Unfortunately, the consumption of fiber is precariously low for most people, often hovering below 15 grams a day.

The primary food source of fiber comes from plants. As a result a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts provide the two main types of fibers – soluble and insoluble – both significant in their own way.

Web MD recommends the following as the top 10 best sources of fiber:
1.    Beans. Think three-bean salad, bean burritos, chili, and soup.
2.    Whole grains. That means whole-wheat bread, pasta, etc.
3.    Brown rice. White rice doesn’t offer much fiber.
4.    Popcorn. It’s a great source of fiber.
5.    Nuts. Almonds, pecans, and walnuts have more fiber than other nuts.
6.    Baked potato with skin. It’s the skin that’s important here.
7.    Berries. All those seeds, plus the skin, give great fiber to any berry.
8.    Bran cereal. Actually, any cereal that has 5 grams of fiber or more in a serving counts as high fiber.
9.    Oatmeal. Whether its microwaved or stove-cooked, oatmeal is good fiber.
10.  Vegetables. The crunchier, the better.

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber does not break down during digestion. However, it helps in the absorption and smooth passage of other foods through the stomach and intestines. This fiber contributes to healthy bowel movements and acts as a preventive measure against digestive problems.

Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber on the other hand decreases cholesterol and helps prevent constipation because it softens the stools.

Fiber Rich Foods

Fiber rich foods helps you feel full longer, which lessens the desire to eat and is often helpful for people working long hours.

Word of Caution:  Do not switch suddenly to a fiber-rich diet because it can cause flatulence (gas), stomach cramps or feeling bloated.

The amount of fiber in your diet must be increased gradually for best results.

Cooking Fiber Rich Meals

Cooking a fiber-rich diet is not difficult. It is simply a matter of adding the proper ingredients.

Examples:

  • Instead of making soups with cream and meats, try a rich lentil soup. Beans are extremely healthy and rich in nutrients and fiber.
  • When selecting breads choose whole grain products instead of white flour products.
  • Brown rice and whole grain pasta are also fiber-rich and much healthier than their white counterparts.
  • Bran, rice and whole grain cereals, such as Cheerios and Grape nuts give your body the right fiber intake without compromising the quality or taste.
  • Choose fiber-rich snacks such as nuts, peas and flaxseeds. They will fill your tummy without adding extra calories.
  • All fruits are good for you and contain fiber; but, for that added fiber punch, eat more berries – they are the most fiber-rich.
  • Vegetables and fruits are irreplaceable when it comes to fiber-rich cooking. Try slow-cooker meals because the fiber incorporates into the dish and adds a delightful flavor to your stews, broths, and gravies.
  • Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, and Swiss chard are also fiber-rich and should be included in at least 2 out of 3 of your daily meals.
  • Salads should become a regular item on your dinner menu for all occasions. They are exceptionally good for you and with a light dressing make a delicious way to eat more fiber.

Love Your Body

Your body needs love, care, and attention. Paying attention to what you eat ensures that your body is getting the nutrients it needs to build and sustain a healthy body with a great immune system.

All nutrients are equally important, including fats, carbs, proteins and fiber. The goal should always be to eat a balanced diet with enough fiber.  When you commit to that kind of healthy eating, you will be able to watch miraculous changes in your body and energy levels.  ENJOY!