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Eating Enough Fiber

12:34 PM, Apr 25, 2011   |    comments
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The following information is provided by Emily Hoffman, Clinical Dietician at Memorial Hospital.

Scientific studies have shown that there is a link between eating fiber and good health.  However, did you know that 9 out of 10 Americans do not eat enough fiber?  Fiber can help you feel better and lose weight. Check out some of the health benefits of fiber:

  • Feel better.  People who eat adequate fiber, have less emotional stress, fewer cognitive difficulties and less fatigue.   Probably due to relief of unnoticeable constipation and faster removal of waste from the body.
  • Keeps you regular.  Fiber works to help move foods through your stomach and intestines.
  • Better circulation. Fiber helps your heart and arteries by lowering the cholesterol in your blood that can clog your arteries.
  • Good blood sugars. Fiber helps maintain blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream after eating.
  • Fights colon cancer. Fiber helps lower the risk of colon cancer by increasing friendly or "good" bacteria and decreasing transit time.

 

Fiber can help you lose weight by:

  • Making you chew longer.  This will make you take your time at meals, the goal is to this helps us meet our goal of taking at least 20 minutes to eat.  In turn, this gives our body a chance to let us know when we are full before we overeat.
  • Making you feel full. Fiber absorbs water and swells in the stomach giving you a feeling of fullness. Fiber can absorb as much as 15 times its own weight.
  • Helping you eat less calories.  Higher-fiber foods have fewer calories than low-fiber foods.

 

So what is fiber?  Fiber is the non-digestible part of plant foods.  Fiber can be classified into two categories - soluble and insoluble. 

 

-         Soluble fiber helps you feel full, can lower cholesterol, and help maintain blood-glucose levels after eating.  Soluble fiber dissolves in water.  Examples of soluble fiber are psyllium (found in Metamucil), oatmeal, apples, oranges, bananas, peas, lentils, beans, and barley

 

-         Insoluble fiber speeds up the movement of food through the digestive tract, promoting regularity and reducing the incidence of constipation.  Examples of insoluble fiber are wheat bran, bran cereals, corn, some whole-wheat foods, vegetables and fruit.

 

At least 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you eat are recommended.  If you are following a 1400 calorie diet, you would need about 20 grams of fiber every day.  Use the "Nutrition Facts" or Nutrition Label on any packaged food to find out how much fiber is in that food.  For a food to be considered an "excellent source of fiber," it has at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.  For a food to be a "good source of fiber," it has at least 2.5 grams of fiber per serving.  To make sure you are getting enough fiber, eat high fiber cereals, whole grain foods and lots of fruits and vegetables.  For breakfast cereals, look for one with at least 7 grams of fiber per serving.  If you are following the Kick it Up First Coast Meal Plan, you can rest assured that you are getting the fiber you need.

This content was provided by Emily Hoffman, Clinical Dietician at Memorial Hospital.