We all know that our food, water and air provides all that is needed by our body to function optimally. Now , we even know, what are the substances that are contained in our foods and we know, too, that which substance is essential and for what purpose, for our body – substances like carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, fats, starch, sugars, salts – nutrients, micro nutrients, enzymes, electrolytes, catalysts, stimulants, depressants etc., etc., and what not? – umpteen more.
Lately, fiber in our foods has been found to be a very essential component that provides many health benefits and helps, significantly, in the management and maintenance of health and also in the prevention of many maladies.
Fiber, also known as roughage, is found in almost all the plant based foods, like cereals, vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans etc. Fiber is of two types – soluble and insoluble – soluble fiber dissolves in water and insoluble fiber is bulky , absorbs lots of water and retains it. Our body does not break down or digest and absorb fiber. Instead, our body lets fiber or roughage, which is, dissolved and/or soaked in water, to pass through, in order to, keep our digestive system clean and healthy, ease bowel movements and help the body to expel wastes, toxins and other harmful substances like bad cholesterol and carcinogens.
Processed foods, meat, dairy foods, sugars does not contain fiber and polished foods like white bread, white rice and white flour does not contain fiber as it is removed. Today, study shows, that, not only nine out of ten Americans, but people in most parts of the world are depriving their bodies of adequate dietary fiber – some out of negligence, some out of ignorance and many out the association between eating and bathroom habits.
Just think about these health benefits fiber has to offer:
Digestive Health: dietary fiber is known to normalize bowel movement, prevent constipation and diarrhea, hemorrhoids, gall stones, kidney stone, relieves Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS). Studies say, fiber lowers gastric acid, reduces risk of Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD) & ulcers.
Heart Health: soluble fiber , in particular, is a must in heart health diet. Reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol , improves HDL (good) cholesterol, reduces risk of metabolic syndrome – a group of risk factors of coronary heart diseases, diabetes and stroke, helps manage blood pressure, reduce inflammation and helps lose weight.
Diabetes: Soluble fiber slows down absorption of sugar and helps control blood sugar levels and manage diabetes effectively.
Skin Health: study suggests that fiber helps prevent outbreaks of acne and dry skin allergies as it helps the skin to expel yeast and fungus (which are excreted through the skin) and other toxins out of the body safely without causing any harm or allergy to the skin.
Cancer prevention: some study suggests (although evidence is inconclusive) that a high fiber diet helps prevent colorectal cancer, reduces risks for digestive system cancers like that of the stomach, mouth and the pharynx.
Now let us see how much fiber we need daily – the Food & Nutrition Information Center USDA recommends as follows:
Age 9 to 13 – Males 31 grams – Females 26 grams:
Age 14 to 50 – Males 38 grams – Females 25 grams:
Age 51 & above – Males 30 grams Females – 21 grams.
HERE ARE TEN FOODS HIGH IN FIBERS
CEREAL: Fiber One – half a cup contains 14 grams of fiber; (others – all bran, bran flakes, shredded wheat, oatmeal, rye)
VEGETABLES: Broccoli – half a cup contains 3 grams of fiber; (others – spinach, carrots, brussel sprouts, green bean)
BAKED PRODUCTS: whole wheat bread – 1 slice contains 3 grams of fiber (others – bran muffin, rye bread, rice cakes)
LEGUMES: Lentils – half a cup contains 8 grams of fiber; (others – kidney beans, baked beans and green peas)
GRAINS: Barley – 1 cup contains 9 grams of fiber (others – wheat bran, dry spaghetti, brown rice, bulger)
FRUITS: Pear with peel – one medium size contains 6 grams of fiber (others apple with peel, berries, banana, orange)
DRIED FRUITS: Prunes – about 6 contains 12 grams of fiber (others apricots, raisins, dates, plums)
NUTS: Peanuts dry roasted – quarter of a cup contains 3 grams (others walnuts, filberts)
SEEDS: Flax seeds contain 2 grams per tablespoon (others sesame, sunflower, pumpkin)
DRIED HERBS & SPICE: Cinnamon contains 2 grams per tablespoon (others oregano, rosemary, coriander, basil)
Other food stuffs like cocoa powder and dark chocolate (2 grams per tablespoon); soy beans roasted (3 grams per cracker), are also good options.
Below are some suggestions to add sufficient fiber in your diet:
– Add fruits and vegetables like berries, apple, pears in your breakfast;
– Have fruits for desserts;
– Eat whole fruit rather than juice; and eat fruits like apple and pear along with peel;
– Add nuts, seeds, peas, beans, artichokes, lentils, rice to soups, salads and stews;
– Eat dried fruits, raw vegetables, whole grain crackers, nuts at snack time;
Considering the prevailing lifestyles and the quality of food that is available to us, health experts suggest we include adequate quantity of fiber ( as recommended by health professionals and related organizations) in our daily diet for our body to function at its` optimal and be healthy, so that, we can live our life satisfactorily, successfully and happily.