WHAT IS FIBER? It is an essential nutrient, yet most people do not come close to meeting their fiber needs. Dietary fiber- the fiber we eat is essential to our digestive health. Here are a few of the positive benefits of adding more fiber to your daily intake of foods. 1-Fiber provides that fullness we feel after a meal. (Not the overeating fullness) This may be an area for you to focus on- what is good fullness-quantity of food and quality of food. The natural fullness we see in babies and toddlers is the goal. It helps us maintain proper weight. 2-Helps to lower the bad cholesterol (low density lipoproteins).3-Helps with reducing constipation and diverticulosis. 4-Fiber helps keep our blood sugar within an acceptable range (last week) soluble fiber slows the absorption of sugar. 5-Heart healthy benefits- lowers blood pressure and inflammation
Where is it found- DIETARY FIBEER- found in whole grains, fruits, legumes. It is not hard to find good sources of fiber to add to our daily meals/snacks. Dietary fiber is known as bulk or roughage. And is the part of the plant or plant food that our bodies cannot absorb or digest. It passes through our systems intact -stomach, small intestine, large int, colon-out. Fiber is not broken down like the cho, fats, proteins consume that are used as fuel, to rebuild muscles or are stored for future needs.
Fiber has 2 classifications:
1-soluable- dissolves in water. It becomes gel like. It can slow down the passage of food from the stomach to the intestine. The function is to lower blood cholesterol and our blood glucose levels. Soluable Sources: oats, peas, beans, soft part apples, citrus fruit, barley, carrots, flaxseed, oat bran, banana
2-insoluable-beneficial for the movement of digested food through the system. It holds onto water, which helps produce softer, bulkier stools to help regulate bowel movements. Key is to drink water. Helps those who get constipated. Sources: wheat bran, nuts, dried beans, whole wheat flour, veges- cauliflower, potatoes with skin, green beans, nuts, corn, carrots, grapes, berries, skins of fruits
HOW MUCH DO I NEED DAILY: Institute of Health recommends
Men: age 50 or younger- 38 grams; age 51+- 30 grams
Women: age 50 or younger 25 grams; age 51+- 21 grams
Here are a few foods high in fiber:
While all fruits have some fiber, there are some that are higher than others. Here are a few that have 3 to 4 grams of fiber: Apple, Orange, Tangerine, Pear, 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup strawberries
Raspberries are high in fiber, as one cup has 8 grams.
Here are some vegetable choices that have 3 to 4 grams of fiber: 1/2 cup peas, 1/2 cup cauliflower,
1 cup carrots, 1 medium sweet potato, 1/2 cup squash
Few other foods: -3 c air- popped popcorn (3.6 grams), 1 ounce of almonds (3.5 grams), ˝ c cooked black beans (7.5 grams)
Eating the skin or peels of fruit & veges increase the fiber. The more processed the food = lower fiber content. Ex. 1 medium apple with skin (4.4 gram), ˝ cup applesauce (1.4 grams), 4 oz apple juice (none).
-with simple substitutions, you can easily increase your fiber. Ex. Breakfast-choose steel cut oats with berries in place of sugar-coated cereal. Lunch-whole grain tortilla or bread with tomato, lettuce and veges and vegetable soup in the place of fast-food burger. Dinner-whole grain/wild rice in place of white rice.
-Refined or processed food- canned fruit and veges, pulp free juice, white and wheat bread, pasta and non-whole grain cereals- are all low in fiber. The refining process removes the outer coat (bran) from the grain. Like peeling the skin off fruit.
TIPS FOR ADDING FIBER:
- choose whole grain, bran cereals with 5 or more grams fiber/serving
ADD BULK TO BAKING- substitute whole wheat flour for ˝ or all of white flour. It is heavier than white flour so will need to add more yeast or let dough rise longer. For every 3 cups whole wheat flour in a recipe, add 1 tsp baking powder when it is called for it. You can add uncooked oatmeal, wheat bran or crushed bran to muffins, cookies or cakes. To start, Use ˝ whole grain products in place and in corporate more over a few weeks. Look for the first ingredient on the food label to be- whole wheat, whole grains. Should have at least 2 grams fiber/serving. Experiment with beans, peas, lentils in recipes. Eat fruit with every meal, choose raw fruits and vegetables in place of juice, and eat the skins.
MAKE SNACKS COUNT- raw vegetables, fresh fruit, low fat popcorn, whole grain crackers. Small amounts of nuts, seeds or dried fruit (high in calories). Try brown rice and whole grain pastas.
MOVE with adequate hydration! Puts it all together!
A must to drink your daily amount of water to get the full benefit from fiber and feel your best. Fiber absorbs water to make stools soft and bulky. (Like a sponge) If you have a lower fiber intake, increase your intake slowly as you drink plenty of fluids.
Whole grain has 3 parts- bran (fiber rich), germ (nutrient packed) and endosperm(starchy)</strong>. The refined products only have- endosperm.
Bran and germ are the parts that keep your body, skin and hair healthy. All three parts are whole grain. When shopping, be aware of foods labeled: stone-ground, 100% wheat, cracked wheat may not be a whole grain food. Molasses or color are also added to made breads brown, so do not go on color. MUST READ LABELS
LABEL: look for whole grain first on the label, look for FDA approved whole-grain health claim.
LOOK FOR THESE FABULOUS GRAINS:
1.Teff-gluten free, high in calcium, protein, iron and thiamine. Has small grain that are nutty in flavor. It is largely in Ethiopia but now grown in Idaho. Cook into creamy cereal or in a vege dish.
2. Barley- helps stabilize blood sugar levels and is a great source of selenium (antioxidant), Add to soups, hot cereals.
3. Amaranth- gluten free, complete protein because it has all the essential amino acids, iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium, potassium. In the US it is mostly flour used for pancakes, breads and muffins.
4. Quinoa- gluten free and also a complete protein. Great source of zinc, magnesium, iron and folate. Comes in many colors and can be used in soups, salads, stir fries, side dishes.
Eating a high-fiber diet may interfere with the absorption and effectiveness of some medications. Speak to your doctor about which medications to take with caution and when to take them. Fiber also binds with certain nutrients and carries them out of the body. To avoid this, aim for the recommended grams per your age group as we mentioned earlier. When eating a high-fiber diet, be sure to drink at least eight glasses of fluid each day.
This links gives a great list of food items and their fiber content.
Fiber sources are more than bread. And as we noted, all bread is not a good fiber source- look for the whole grain as the first ingredient on the label. Look at the wide variety of foods with wonderful amounts of fiber- fruits, vegetables, whole grains and on and on. Adding more fiber into your diet appears to reduce the risk of developing various conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease, constipation and colon cancer. Fiber is important for the health of the digestive system and that is the goal we are aiming for starting today!
“He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything”. Arabian Proverb