12th Mar 2018
Are you getting enough fiber? A low-fat, balanced diet rich in fiber is beneficial for health. Simply adding adequate amounts of fiber to the diet can improve digestive health; prevent heart ailments, colon cancer and diabetes.
clase digestive tract, it acts like a sponge, cleansing the waste matter and preventing constipation. This process helps prevent bowel related disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis and hemorrhoids, which can occur from the increased pressure created by hard stools.
Toxins accumulate from undigested food, pollution and dead cells created by the body. Fiber’s main function is to help bowels function more efficiently. If the elimination process is compromised, toxins can build up, resulting in ill-health.
FIBER: A TOOL FOR WEIGHT LOSS ?
Fiber helps remove fat and unwanted waste from the colon wall. It is filling and low in calories and provides a welcome feeling of fullness especially if you are watching your weight.
Fiber fills you up, sustaining you longer than foods without it. Certain fiber-rich foods like flaxseed, prunes, bran and wheat germ can help stimulate lazy bowels.
Water is essential
Be sure to increase water consumption – consume at least eight to ten glasses per day. Fiber requires ample water to function optimally. Increasing fluids helps fiber to move more easily through the intestines.
TO PEEL OR NOT TO PEEL
Eating the skin of certain vegetables and fruits ensures that you get even more fiber.
For example, the peel contains 75-percent of dietary fiber in an apple. It is important to make sure the fruits and
vegetables are washed properly if you decide to eat the peel.
The removal of seeds or hulls also reduces fiber content.
For example, tomatoes with seeds have more fiber than de-seeded ones.
The outer layer of a grain, which contains most of the fiber, is removed in the refining process. This is why whole-grain products, such as brown rice, whole-grain bread and other unrefined foods are recommended.
Just because a food product says ‘wheat’ or looks brown in colour does not mean it is high in fiber. The key words to watch out for are ‘whole-wheat’, ‘whole-grain’ or ‘multi-grain’.
ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH FIBER?
The National Cancer Institute of America recommends a daily intake of between 20 to 35 grams of fiber-rich foods. Dietary fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, sprouts, beans, legumes, flax, whole grain cereals, nuts and seeds.
SOLUBLE AND INSOLUBLE FIBER
There are two main kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber is found in certain fruits, oats, barley and legumes. It has a gel-like consistency and binds with cholesterol in the small intestines and removes it from the body. Certain soluble fiber’s such as pectin found in apples; and guar gums found in oats slow down the release of sugars, reducing the risk of diabetes.
Insoluble fiber is found in whole grain cereals, vegetables, seeds and nuts. Under a microscope it looks like a sponge; it also acts like a sponge, since it helps eliminate toxins and waste from the body.
BENEFITS OF FIBER
- Improves digestive health.
- May help reduce the risk of colon caner, heart disease and diabetes.
- Decreases elevated blood cholesterol levels.
- Helps control weight.
- Too much fiber can cause bloating.
- Excessive fiber can interfere with the absorption of iron, zinc and other minerals.
It is best to gradually add fiber to a balanced diet. Make small changes in your diet over a period of time. Loading up on fiber too quickly can cause abdominal discomfort. You can overdo fiber by consuming more than 50 to 60 grams per day. This may cause a decrease in absorption of certain vitamins and minerals such as zinc, iron and magnesium.
WAYS TO INCREASE INTAKE OF FIBERE
- Eat 5 to 6 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Leave skins on when possible.
- Eat breakfast. Breakfast is one of the best fiber opportunities of the day – you can consume whole-grain toast, fresh fruit or fiber-rich cereal such as oats and bran.
- Eat vegetables raw or steamed. Over-cooking reduces the fiber content of the foods, steam or cook only until tender but firm to bite.
- Snack on high fiber fruits such as prunes, apricots, apples, oranges; when you are hungry in-between meals.
- Eat legumes more often. Try lentil soups, stews or casseroles.
- Eat more salads. Add nuts, seeds, sprouts and beans.
- Eat whole fruits more than juice. Most of the fiber in fruit is found in the skin, seeds and pulp.
- Use a variety of cereals – bran, oatmeal, whole-wheat flour, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, bulgur and barley.
FIBER CONTENT OF SOME FOODS
BEANS AND LENTILS
- Lentils cooked (1/2 cup) grams of fiber 7.8
- Kidney beans cooked (1/2 cup) grams of fiber 7.3
- Chickpeas cooked (1/2 cup) grams of fiber 5.3
- Oatmeal cooked (1 cup) grams of fiber 4
- Raisin bran (3/4 cup) grams of fiber 5
- Bran flakes (3/4 cup) grams of fiber 5
BREADS AND GRAINS
- Brown rice cooked (1/2 cup) grams of fiber 2
- Whole-wheat bread 1 slice grams of fiber 2
- 1-Pear with skin grams of fiber 4
- 1-Apple with skin grams of fiber 3.7
- 1-Peach with skin grams of fiber 3.4
- 2-Figs dried grams of fiber 4
- 1- Carrot grams of fiber 2
- 1-Tomato grams of fiber 2
- Broccoli cooked (1/2 cup) grams of fiber 2
- Spinach cooked (1/2 cup) grams of fiber 2