Miracle foods: Mighty Fiber
What if I told you there is a magic ingredient you can take, which can help you to lose weight by doing all these great things:
- Curb your appetite
- Makes you feel full longer
- Control your blood sugar by slowing your digestion
- Reduce absorption of calories, particularly calories that come from saturated fat
It is sounds like all these diet pills promise you to do and always fail to deliver at the end. But wait, here is more. This amazing ingredient is proven to:
- Reduce your risk of various types of cancer
- Reduce your risk of heart diseases and heart attack
- Regulate your digestive system
- Strengthen your immune system
- Lower your bad cholesterol
- Prevent diabetes type II
Can you imagine if anybody invented this ingredient in a lab, like we invented MSG, artificial sweeteners, food colorings and synthetic drugs? This product would be patented and made billions for the company that hold the patent.
Luckily for us, this ingredient was created by Mother Nature millions of years ago, so you don’t have to pay arm and leg to get it. It comes as a part of delicious, nutritious, healthy food that you can find in your produce isle. Unfortunately for us, food manufacturers have been stripping our food of this miracle ingredient in order to make food less perishable and have longer shelf life.
I guess by now you know I am talking about dietary fiber. There has been a lot of information about fiber lately but do you really know what fiber is and how important it is for your health?
What is dietary fiber?
Dietary fiber is the indigestible part of plant food that cannot be broken down into energy, so it does not contain calories. It is a type of complex carbohydrate that is used by pant to build its cell’s walls. There are many different types of fiber, but we should know about only two types - soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming thick gel. This gel binds with fatty acids and toxins, soaking up the waste and passing it through your gastrointestinal tract (GT). The gel also fills your stomach and slows the digestion, which helps control the rise of sugar in your blood and release of insulin. Also, soluble fiber helps lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol.
Insoluble fiber, also called roughage, doesn’t dissolve in water. It goes through your GT almost intact, mopping toxins and waste out of your system. Insoluble fiber regulates your bowel movements and pH level in your intestines, helping prevent colon and small intestine cancers.
It is important to implement both types of fiber in your diet, since they perform different tasks in your body. Popular fiber supplements usually contain soluble fiber, so you should make an effort to eat more insoluble type, which found mostly in whole grains.
Other benefits of dietary fiber include:
- removing unwanted metals and toxins
- reduces the side effects of radiation
- reduces risk of gallstones
- helps prevent hemorrhoids
- helps prevent varicose veins.
Fiber flash effect
Another great thing about fiber, which not so many people know about, is “fiber flash effect”. Fiber actually reduces amount of calories you already ate. Really, different studies show that for each gram of fiber you eat, you eliminate form 8 to 12 unused calories, most of them in form of fat and cholesterol. Just imagine, if you eat 35 grams of fiber every day you eliminate about 350 calories from your daily calorie intake. You can eat enough calories to sustain your current weight and still lose a pound of fat every 10 days. Isn’t it crazy? Try to eat more fiber and you can lose even more.
Some doctors were concerned that fiber flash can affect the absorption of vitamins and minerals from food, but research shows that it is not true. Actually, quite opposite was revealed: because fiber slows the digestion, body has more time to absorb vitamins and minerals.
How much fiber is enough
FDA recommended dose is 25 grams of dietary fiber a day, but majority of Americans get around 12 to 14 grams. The optimal number is even higher than FDA recommended amount, around 35-45 grams a day. When you can take supplements to boost your intake, the best way of getting fiber is with your food. All fiber-rich foods are great for you. I would like to emphasize the word “all”, no exceptions. Fiber rides with disease fighting and health protecting group of friends: antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. So, when it is easy to take the supplement, you benefit significantly more from getting fiber through your food. Do you thing that getting 35-40 grams of fiber naturally is nearly impossible? Don’t worry, it is not that hard.
All fiber comes from plant foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. To increase the intake of your dietary fiber take following steps:
- Learn to love fruits. You should eat 5 to 6 servings of fruit every day. Serving is a medium size fruit or ½ of cup.
- Eat berries: they are low in calories, very high in fiber, and so delicious!
- Eat no less than 5 servings of vegetables. You can eat unlimited amount of vegetables as long as they served fresh or minimally processed, with a little bit of canola or olive oil.
- Switch to whole grain 100% of the time: whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice.
- Implement vegetable soups made with legumes (beans) in your diet. Legumes are extremely high in fiber, but also high in calories, so eating them in soup kills two birds: you get the fiber without piling the calories.
- Snack (not gorge!) on nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, popcorn, chestnuts, sesame seeds.
- Start you day with fiber-rich breakfast: whole wheat toast with natural peanut butter and whole fruit preserves, 24 almonds, cup of natural yogurt and berries. It is whooping 18 grams of fiber just in one meal! Great way to start your day.
While you are switching to high-fiber diet, it is very important to drink enough water, so you can avoid bloating, gas and occasional constipation. 8 glasses a day, recommended by most doctors and dieticians, are sufficient. Another way to determine how much water you need to drink according to your weight, is to divide your weight by two. The number you receive is the number of ounces of water you should drink. So, if your weight is 180, you should drink 90 ounces, which amounts to about 11 glasses.