Monday, January 12, 2009

Health Benefits of Fiber

Fiber has been shown through long term studies to have numerous health benefits, including weight loss and weight management. Are you getting enough fiber in your diet or are you like many Americans that are falling short on the recommend daily amount? You don’t have to understand all of the ins and outs of fiber to see the benefits, you just need to know how much to consume and what food provide it. The purpose of this blog is to give you a common sense, practical approach to making sure you are including fiber in your diet so that you can live longer, healthier lives.

What is Fiber?
Fiber refers to carbohydrates that cannot be digested. Fiber is found in the good choice carbohydrates such as all plants that can be eaten. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains are excellent choices to insure you are getting your daily recommended amount of fiber. Fiber can be put into two categories, soluble and insoluble. Good sources of soluble fiber are oat bran, oatmeal, beans, peas, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, strawberries and apple pulp. Foods high in insoluble fiber include whole-wheat breads, wheat cereals, wheat bran, rye, rice, barley, most other grains, cabbage, carrots, and beets.

Health Benefits of Fiber
For a long time, fiber has been considered a healthy nutrient and for good reason! A diet full in fiber has been found to have many positive effects on your health. Here are three of the many.

Weight Loss and Weight Management
High-fiber foods generally require more chewing time, which gives your body time to register when you're no longer hungry, so you're less likely to overeat. Also, a high-fiber diet tends to make a meal feel larger and linger longer, so you stay full for a greater amount of time. And high-fiber diets also tend to be less "energy dense," which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.

Heart Disease
Fiber also helps lower your total cholesterol levels by lowering your LDL or “Bad” cholesterol.

Americans are developing Type II diabetes at a record pace. Type II diabetes is characterized by sustained high blood sugar levels in which the body can no longer produce enough insulin to lower blood sugar or cannot use the insulin that it does produce. High fiber diets have shown to decrease the risk of developing diabetes as well as to help control diabetes once it is developed by keeping blood sugar levels normal and keeping a long, steady stream of energy throughout the day.

Tips to help you Increase your Daily Intake of Fiber
The average American eats only 11-13 grams of dietary fiber each day but the current recommendations are much higher. The US Dietary guidelines suggestions for women are to eat anywhere between 25-35 grams of dietary fiber each day but the more the better. When you eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables and fruits, you will be getting most of the fiber you need. Most Americans don’t get the recommended daily amount of fiber so here are a few tips to help you increase your daily fiber intake:

1. Eat 100% whole grain bread instead of white. White bread is stripped of fiber during the processing.
2. Try to enjoy fruits and vegetable at each meal and snack on raw vegetables instead of chips or crackers. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of fiber.
3. Choose whole grain cereals high in fiber such as Kashi Go Lean or All-Bran
4. Choose brown rice instead of white rice
5. Add ground flaxseed to yogurt or salads
6. Eat plenty of beans
7. Read food labels and try too avoid anything that does not have 3g of fiber per serving.
8. Use supplements to increase your daily consumption.

Once you have begin to increase your Fiber intake to recommended amounts, you will need to increase your water consumption, especially while you are participating in an exercise program such as Pensacola Adventure Boot Camp. Fiber absorbs water so you will need to increase water consumption to assure you are properly hydrated.

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