Monday, March 7, 2011

Fabulous Fiber

Fabulous Fiber
We have all heard it… Get more fiber daily. Eat foods high in fiber. Fiber will save the world. Ha.
 However, if you do not know where true fiber comes from and the health benefits you receive from only the natural sources of fiber you can easily fall into the trap of buying products that promote a high fiber content with little to no nutritional value.

What is fiber, exactly?
Fiber also called roughage is the indigestible portion of plant foods that pushes food through the digestive system absorbing water and easing defecation.  Think of it as your chimney sweeper for your digestive track. As your use your fireplace as it is intend leftover junk and gunk line your chimney over time If you do not clean out your chimney regularly it can cause major problems, same with your digest track and colon.  We ate foods daily that leave behind junk and gunk in our digest track and colon. Fiber comes through and scrubs it all off the walls and down the pipe.

True dietary fiber offers a range of health benefits.
Stabilize blood-sugar levels and decrease insulin levels
Reduce LDL and total serum cholesterol
Detoxify and eliminate waste by cleansing your digestive system
Boost energy
Regulate or lose weight
In addition to these general health benefits, studies show a fiber-rich diet helps manage type-2 diabetes and serious digestive disorders such as colitis and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease through lowered cholesterol.

Getting enough fiber in your diet helps your body eliminate waste and detoxify. Remember the chimney scenario? The junk and gunk that it scrubs off the walls and down the pipes is usually toxins leftover by the foods we eat; such as, pesticides, preservatives, none food chemicals and additives.  Dietary fiber has two forms—soluble and insoluble—which work together. Soluble fiber slows the release of carbohydrates into your bloodstream—it’s the fiber that controls insulin levels and prolongs energy. Insoluble fiber’s main job is to create a sense of fullness that signals your body’s hunger mechanism to shut off; it’s also responsible for cleansing and detoxifying.

Both soluble and insoluble fiber plays a role in helping your body reap all the possible health benefits. The key is to get a variety of each daily.

Soluble Fiber
Insoluble Fiber
·         Absorbs water to make stool softer and easier to pass
·         Prolongs stomach emptying time so blood sugar is released and absorbed more slowly
·         Helps regulate blood sugar for people with diabetes
·         Lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) which reduces risk of heart disease
·          Binds with fatty acids (building blocks for fat) helping you lose / maintain weight loss
·         Increases transit time by moving bulk through the intestines which promotes regular bowel movement and prevent constipation
·         Removes toxic waste through colon in less time
·         Helps control and balance the pH (acidity) in the intestines
·         Help prevent colon and breast cancer by keeping  an optimal pH in intestines to prevent  microbes from producing cancerous substances
·         Oat/Oat bran
·         Dried beans and peas
·         Nuts
·         Barley
·         Flax seed
·         Fruits such as oranges and apples
·         Vegetables such as carrots
·   Psyllium husk
·         Vegetables such as green beans and dark green leafy vegetables
·         Fruit skins and root vegetable skins
·         Whole-wheat products
·         Wheat oat
·         Corn bran
·     Seeds & Nuts

So how much fiber should I get? 
Recommend 25-35 grams a day.
How can I be sure I am getting the right amount?
Eat > 5 servings a day of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Eat the skins of fruits and vegetables.
Eat fiber fortified breads, cereals  or granola bars.
Add ground flax seeds or flax seed oil to cooked grains, oats, baked goods, or even mashed potatoes.
Buy foods that have > 5g fiber per serving or > 20% of Daily Value of fiber on the nutrition label.

***Remember to drink 8-10 glasses of water daily when consuming adequate fiber to prevent constipation and abdominal discomfort***

Another way to know if you are getting enough fiber is examining your poop. Yes, I said poop. Come on we all look. J

What is Poop?
About 75% of your average poop is water. Water is absorbed as it passes through the large intestine. That is why the more days that pass between episodes the drier your poop will be because the water will disappear.

The remaining 25% is made up of bacteria that helped us digest our food, protein, undigested fiber, waste from food, cellular linings, fats, cholesterol, salts and substances released from the liver and the intestines (such as mucus).

What Makes a Healthy Poop?

Your poop is a great sign of how healthy you are eating and can be a warning sign!!
So what should you look for? A healthy poop will be:
Golden brown, which is due to pigments formed by the bacteria in the gut and bile from the liver.
Formed into one long shape. Dr. Michael Levitt, an Australian colorectal surgeon says that the healthy human stool resembles the shape and consistency (although not the same color) of an unripe banana.
Nearly odorless.  Foul smelling odors come from eating a diet high in saturated fats, processed foods and not enough fiber.
About 1 to 2 inches in diameter and 18 inches long.  Yeah, I know what you are thinking!!

What about other characteristics?

If it floats you have eaten too much fat.
If it sinks you have eaten plenty of fiber.
If it comes out in balls, then you are possibly dehydrated.

How Often Should I Poop?

The National Institute for Diabetes, Kidney, and Digestive Diseases says three times a week is normal and healthy for some people. However, many disagree with this and argue that once a day, once or twice a day, or even two to three hours of a major meal.
So… my opinion is that you should be on a regular pooping schedule that works for you: once a day, three times a week, or more. But if you are feeling discomfort from not going then there is an irregular problem that should be addressed.

If you have pooped four times a day or more and the poop has a liquid consistency, this is referred to as diarrhea. If you poo less than two or three days a week and the poop is hard, dry, and difficult to pass, this is known as constipation. Either condition can be warning signs of other health problems, if not resolved within a few days to a week seek medical attention.

So who is hungry???? Just kidding…

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