Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Importance Of Fiber In Your Diet

Did you know that getting enough fiber in your diet could help prevent many of the most common health problems? Illnesses such as Colon cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, breast cancer, constipation, hemorrhoids, and strokes can all be prevented with the aide of fiber.

But unfortunately, many of us don't get in enough fiber, causing numerous health conditions as listed above. White flour and other refined foods increase the onset of such serious conditions as cancer and heart disease. In countries where people eat natural foods and avoid refined carbohydrates and foods, these conditions appear at a much smaller rate. Researchers and doctors alike have concluded that fiber is one substance we should not live without.

What is fiber?

There are actually two types of fiber. Let's discuss the different types:

Soluble fiber: The type forms a gel-like coating in the intestines. Soluble fiber traps cholesterol before it gets into the bloodstream, lowering the risk of stroke and heart disease. You can find soluble fiber in: some fruits, legumes, and oats.

Insoluble fiber: This type of fiber soaks up water as it goes through the intestines, helping to prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. Insoluble fiber also binds to estrogen found in the intestines, in turn allowing less of the hormone to enter the bloodstream. Some researchers have found that this can help to lower the risk of breast cancer.

How can I get enough fiber into my diet?

You don't need to measure and worry about getting in enough fiber each day. It is actually quite easy! First, you want to make sure you get in about 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day. And do not worry about making sure you get in both types of fiber. By simply eating a lot of fruits, loading up on your veggies, beans, and whole grains, you will quite assuredly be getting in enough of both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Need some suggestions on maximizing your fiber intake?

Choose whole grains: Whole grains have twice as much fiber as breads made with white and refined fiber. Just because something says "wheat", do not assume it is. The label must read "whole wheat" or better yet, "whole grain" to have adequate fiber.

Eat your stems: How many of us throw the stems away on broccoli and asparagus? I know I have often been guilty of this. But know that these stems contain the most fiber and are really quite good for you! To make them easier to eat, try cutting them into smaller, bite-sized pieces before you cook them.

Eat the peel: It is amazing how much fiber is contained in the peel of fruits and vegetables. When you throw away the peel, you also throw out beneficial nutrition and fiber. Eat apples, potatoes, and carrots with the peel on for extra fiber.

Eat your beans: Beans are one of the best sources of fiber. Just a half-cup of black beans contains 25 percent of the recommended daily amount of fiber. And, they taste great!

Eat your cereal: Many cereals contain a lot of fiber. Sprinkle some wheat germ on your cereal, and you get an extra boost of fiber!

Getting in your fiber is important and really quite easy. As you begin to increase your fiber, please be aware that it is normal to experience an increase in intestinal gas as you begin. To avoid this, start adding fiber slowly, increasing your intake just a bit every couple of days until you are able to load up with no discomfort.

Fiber is a healthy and important addition to your diet, and your body will thank you for it!

Author Resource: Colleen is a health and fitness enthusiast who loves to pass on the latest information on health and wellness. Sign up for your free e-newsletter filled with cutting-edge information on health, nutrition, weight loss, and fitness. For your free e-newsletter, visit

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