The average American diet only contains about 10 grams of fiber a day. YIKES! Lack of fiber in your diet can contribute to many health issues including…Diabetes, cancer, diverticulitis (outpockets of the colon), constipation, and the dreaded belly fat. Fiber is the indigestible portion of foods. Foods that are closer to nature, whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits contain fiber. It is recommended that you get at least 25 grams a day and is even more beneficial to get 45 grams per day.
The average American has gotten away from eating fiber due to…once again…all the processed foods. The more a food is processed, the more fiber is removed. Anything processed until it is white…like white flour and white sugar is void of all fiber. This is why it raised the blood sugars so quickly. Fiber in food slows down the rate at which it is digested and absorbed. When you include fiber, your blood sugars remain more balanced and steady. Your energy levels also stay high because you won't have the crash after the big spike in blood sugars with processed foods. More of the sugar is burned as fuel instead of stored as fat (especially belly fat) because the sugar is put into the blood much slower.
There are all kinds of beneficial reasons to include more fiber in every meal. Fiber is very filling. You will feel full much quicker due to the bulk of fiber so you won't be inclined to consume an overabundance of calories. Fiber also helps "cancel out" some of the calories before they are even absorbed because it helps pull things quicker through the digestive tract. Fiber can help lower serum cholesterol levels by binding to bile salts. Bile salts are made from cholesterol. When you eat fiber, it binds to the existing bile salts and carries them out of the body. This forces the body to make more bile salts from cholesterol so less of the cholesterol goes into the blood. Oatmeal is a great source of the fiber that reduces serum (blood) cholesterol.
Fiber consumption is also very beneficial to colon health. There is much more incidence of colon cancer due to the lack of fiber in this country. With a lack of fiber in the diet, toxins have a much longer time in the colon increasing the chances of cancer, diverticulitis, constipation, and hemorrhoids. Eating an adequate amount of fiber increases the transit time of digestion and pulls toxins from the colon. It also pulls water along to soften stools therefore relieving the strain that causes hemorrhoids.
Fiber also encourages healthful bacterial growth in the colon which helps assimilation of nutrients and the formation of cancer resistant bowel acids.
When you colon is functioning properly, you also have a flatter stomach. Your body won't retain water, your tummy won't get distended and you will be ready for that bathing suit in no time!
You can take a fiber supplement but optimally your fiber should come from your diet.
So how do you get your 45 grams of fiber a day?
Here are some of the higher fiber containing foods and their fiber content per serving:
All Bran 13 grams
Corn Flakes 6 grams
Rye bread 3 grams
Whole grain bread 3 grams
Raisin Bran 6 grams
Oatmeal 4 grams
Whole wheat pasta 6 grams
Black Beans 19 grams
Pinto Beans 19 grams
Kidney Beans 10 grams
Garbonzo Beans 12 grams
Lentils 6 grams
Peas 9 grams
Split peas 13 grams
Potatoes (with skin) 5 grams
Spinach (cooked) 7 grams
Artichoke 6 grams
Popcorn 6 grams
Corn on the cob 5 grams
Broccolli 7 grams
Yams 7 grams
Apple 4 grams
Blueberries 4 grams
Watermelon 3 grams
Raspberries 5 grams
Dried figs 10 grams
Prunes 2 grams
Blackberries 4 grams
As you can see, just by eating whole grains, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), fruits, and vegetables…it is easy to get your daily requirement of fiber. Summer time is a great time to start eating more fiber because there are lots of choices with all the summer fruit and vegetables. You can get on the internet and find all kinds of lists of foods and their fiber content.
More About Nutrition:
Lisa Metzgar, PhD
Lisa Metzgar, PhD, has been in the alternative health field since 1996.
She received her BA in Biology from UCSD, is a certified Holistic Health Practitioner, and received her PhD in Holistic Nutrition. Lisa has taught body mind retreats in San Diego, Seattle, and Australia and currently has a practice in Reno, NV where she does nutritional counseling. Lisa's passion is to educate families in a healthy lifestyle. Email her at lisa (at) conceptsinwellness.com
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