When it comes to fiber, there are lots of benefits, but the simple fact is that most people are probably not getting enough of it, although they probably think they are.
When I speak to clients about their diet, most people say that they eat lots of fiber. Most of the time it consists a bowl of cereal in the morning, a small salad with lunch, and some roasted vegetables with dinner.
With all the benefits that fiber gives, there’s no excuse not to be eating more of it.
A lot of people say that it is difficult to know how much fiber the are eating and that it is difficult to eat lots of it.
That’s, not true!
At the bottom of the article I have explained how I get mine to give you an idea. And, if you can increase the benefit of your exercise routine and feel more energy and less stress then they should take that extra step to hunt down some fiber!
Here are five reasons why fiber should be taken seriously in your diet:
1) Your Heart – increased fiber intake means less cardiovascular problems. A Harvard study found that for every 10 grams of fiber eaten daily, heart attack risk drops by 14 percent, and the chance of dying from other cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes, decreases by 27 percent. To give you an idea of what 10 grams of fiber actually is, think 1 apple and 1 banana. While it is recommended that we consume over 20 grams of fiber per day, the typical Western diet usually offers about 15 grams. In comparison, countries with a lower rate of heart disease actually can average over 100 grams of fiber per day (not recommended unless you really enjoy your bathroom)!
2) Your Blood Pressure – high blood pressure is a big problem, especially with the amount of stress most individuals experience in a hectic daily routine. Soluble fiber, which is the type of fiber that partially dissolves in water and forms a gel in your digestive tract, slows the rate of digestion and absorption. Since food is digested more slowly, the pancreatic release of insulin occurs more slowly. If you read my article on carbohydrates, you will know that sugar results in a quick release of insulin, which can increase blood sugar! In slowing this process, fiber assists in controlling blood pressure. More specifically, fiber lowers the systolic blood pressure, which is the pressure exerted as your heart beats. Since high blood pressure is one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, adequate consumption of fiber can help your heart live longer and healthier!
3) Your Waistline – Soluble fiber also binds to “bile acids” and removes them from the small intestine. Since bile acids aid in fat digestion, this means that your body is less likely to absorb and use fat, and more likely to simply pass it through. Since bile acids also transport cholesterol, reduced bile acids in the small intestine results in lower cholesterol! Soluble fiber also regulates blood sugar levels and controls insulin levels, so it assists in maintaining a high metabolism and a greater utilization of fatty acids as an energy source. Insoluble fiber, which does not dissovle in water, increases the bulk in your gut. As a result, digested food sits for a shorter period of time in the intestine, and less starches and sugars are absorbed into the body. You also feel fuller faster! But while increased fiber intake can greatly assist in weight control, be warned that too much fiber intake will result in inadequate nutrient absorption – which can decrease energy levels and lower the metabolism. So hold back on munching down that giant bag of spinach, and space your fiber out evenly throughout the day.
4) Your Colon – Let’s face it: many of the foods that we consume contain toxins, whether from processing chemicals, pesticides, or cooking. These potential cancer causing agents, especially when consumed in high concentrations, can remain in contact with the colon wall for long periods of time. A high fiber diet will not only reduce colonic pressure by reducing constipation, but will also produce a large and bulky stool that passes through the bowel more quickly. That means less exposure to toxins, lower risk of pressure related health problems like diverticulitis, and decreased risk of colon cancer.
5) Your Diabetes Risk – I’ve already explained how a high-fiber diet reduces that absorption of sugar into the blood which slows the insulin response and stabilises the blood sugar levels. This reduces stress on the pancreas, and lowers the risk of developing insulin resistance, which is one of the chronic problems that can arise with “roller-coaster” blood sugar levels. This decreases your chance of developing diabetes, which can occur when the body becomes resistant to insulin due to constantly fluctuating levels. As a bonus, whole grains (a big source of fiber) contain magnesium, which can also control the body’s glucose and insulin response.
So how should you ensure that you are taking advantage of these health benefits by consuming enough fiber?
Here’s my personal diet:
1) a bowl of oaty cereal in the morning, with fruit (either apples, bananas or strawberries)
2) a fresh piece of fruit and/or handful of nuts as a mid-morning snack;
3) a large salad for lunch or in the afternoon, usually with 3-4 different types of vegetables or fruits, like carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes or pears.
4) one handful of whole, raw almonds in the afternoon as a snack;
5) one large serving of vegetables with dinner, such as asparagus, carrots and broccoli.
I hope this has helped!