We have heard that dietary fiber is good for us, but you probably don’t know all of the reasons why. The term “probiotic” is commonly used in yogurt advertisements, mentioning how probiotic …
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We have heard that dietary fiber is good for us, but you probably don’t know all of the reasons why.
The term “probiotic” is commonly used in yogurt advertisements, mentioning how probiotic bacteria are good for your gut health.
Fiber on the other hand is considered a “prebiotic”, meaning the fiber helps cultivate the probiotic bacteria in your digestive system.
Dietary fibers are found in plant foods and are classified as soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and can form a thick gel-like fluid when mixed with water, helping you feel full. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and can pass through your digestive tract relatively intact. When the fiber reaches your intestinal tract, it feeds the good bacteria in your gut, creating the beneficial probiotics we need for good health.
Beyond helping you feel less hungry and being a prebiotic, there are other benefits to consuming fiber.
Several studies have shown that an increase in fiber intake along with a reduction in animal products can help reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer. Studies conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish have demonstrated that increased fiber intake may even halt or reverse prostate cancer growth.
Other studies have demonstrated that increased fiber intake can result in a reduced risk of stroke, lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, slow the rate of blood sugar absorption, improve gastrointestinal issues and help with weight loss.
Heart disease is the number one killer in America, and it was recognized more than 60 years ago that a high intake of dietary fiber, along with a low intake of meat and other animal products significantly reduced the risk of heart disease. H. C. Trowell and S.A. Singh spent 20 years practicing medicine in Uganda where the diet consisted mainly of plant foods. During those 20 years, only one case of heart disease was reported in a population of roughly 15 million people. It is estimated that the standard Ugandan diet consisted of 77 grams of fiber daily. In 1956, Trowell and Singh published a paper in the East African Medical Journal that mentioned the health benefits of a high fiber plant-based diet.
The more, the merrier
How much fiber should you eat? The American Heart Association recommends 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily, but the average American eats around 15 grams. The optimal amount of daily fiber ranges between 35 and 75 grams, depending on which nutrition expert you ask.
Shooting for 35 or 40 grams of fiber is a good start, but more might be better. Adding lettuce, tomatoes and onions to your hamburger is not the solution. The winning combination is to replace refined grains, processed foods and animal foods with whole plant foods.
What does 40 grams of fiber look like on a daily basis? For breakfast, have one cup of oatmeal with a quarter cup of blueberries, followed by a mid-morning snack of an apple.
For lunch, eat a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread, and then an afternoon snack of a third cup of hummus with a quarter cup of carrots and a quarter cup of celery.
For dinner, eat a cup of whole wheat pasta with a cup of broccoli and a quarter cup of almonds topped with your favorite tomato sauce.
Take a step toward better health and increase your fiber intake by increasing your consumption of plant-based foods.
Paul Webster is certified in Holistic Nutrition, Weight Management, Sports Nutrition and Training. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media. Questions and Comments can be set to Info@ServingHealthy.com
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