The power of fiber
Right now I’m helping a few friends get their diets in check. They log their daily food intake into a food journal everyday online and I send them tips and suggestions for ways to lose weight or to simply feel healthier. Every time I do this the first thing I notice is how low their fiber intake is and how unaware they are of it. I am surprised and somewhat horrified each time someone tells me that they go to the bathroom once every 2 or 3 days! Not that clients bowel movements are any of my business but I feel inclined to ask when I see their first days fiber at 10g. The food guide recommends that women get around 25g and men 30g per day. I personally like to go higher than this and will often recommend 40 – 50g a day with a mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber. Why do people find it so difficult to find find enough fiber in their diets? Mostly it’s due to lack of veggies, fruits and whole grains but since these are generally the foods that I am attempting to introduce into their diets in the first place I can’t expect them to get the fiber up until these issues are corrected and so I recommend fiber alternatives. Psyllium is my favorite, it’s the husk of the seed of the plantain, it’s a soluble fiber and and has no flavor so it’s easily hidden in smoothies, yogurt, oats etc.. Depending on one’s weight, 1 to 3 tbsp added daily will really up fiber content. A warning about psyllium though is that if added to plain liquid it gels very quickly and becomes almost glue like – not good.
- Heart disease. Evidence is now growing to support the notion that foods containing soluble fiber can have a positive influence on cholesterol, triglycerides, and other particles in the blood that affect the development of heart disease. Some fruits and vegetables (such as citrus fruits and carrots) have been shown to have the same effect. Soluble fiber is made up of polysaccharides (carbohydrates that contain three or more molecules of simple carbohydrates), and it does dissolve in water. (such as oats, rye barley, and beans)
- Cancer. The consumption of fiber speeds up the passage of food through the body. Some experts believe this may prevent harmful substances found in some foods from affecting the colon and may protect against colon cancer. Other types of cancer that may be prevented by a fiber-rich diet include breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer.
- Diabetes. Adding fiber to the diet helps regulate blood sugar levels, which is important in avoiding diabetes. In addition, some people with diabetes can achieve a significant reduction in their blood sugar levels and may find they can reduce their medication or do without it altogether.
- Diverticular disease is a range of conditions that develop from the presence of one of more small pouches that protrude out of the normally smooth wall of the colon; these pouches can become inflamed and cause symptoms that include abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea, and bleeding from the rectum.. Diverticular disease is a condition in which small pouches, called diverticula, develop in the wall of the colon. In a small percentage of people, these diverticula become inflamed or infected, a condition known as diverticulitis. Diverticular disease can cause pain, diarrhea, constipation, and other problems. Generally, this condition is caused from being in a continuous state of constipation, so the way to prevent it is to move the food through the system efficiently.
- Gallstones and kidney stones. Rapid digestion leads to a rapid release of glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream. To cope with this, the body has to release large amounts of insulin into the bloodstream, and this can make a person more likely to develop gallstones and kidney stones (in addition to diabetes and high cholesterol). Additional fiber in the diet will slow digestion and lessen the effects of insulin.