Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The infamous F word...

Let's talk about the F word, FIBER. Back when the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 was released, dietary fiber was noted as a nutrient of concern. This means we, Americans, still aren’t getting enough in our diets. For reference, American men and women eat only about 15 to 18 grams per day! When in fact, you should be eating closer to 25 grams minimum per day.
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is found in plant foods. It is an important nutrient with many health benefits. Eating fiber has been shown to help keep your digestive system running smoothly, support heart health and help maintain blood sugar levels that are already within the normal range. Increasing your fiber can also aid in weight loss because meals containing more fiber are digested more slowly and can help make you feel full longer.
So many people are stuck when it comes to fiber intake. You can easily add in more fiber to your diet by increasing your fruit and veggies which overall has great benefits. Here are some easy ways to add in fiber into your diet.
Plant foods provide two types of fiber: soluble fiber (which increases the feeling of fullness) and insoluble fiber (which aids the digestive system and promotes regularity). Peas, beans, oats, and fruits are sources of soluble fiber, and whole grains and vegetables provide the majority of insoluble fiber.
Whole grain foods are a natural source of dietary fiber. Unlike refined carbohydrates (think white bread), whole grains retain the kernel's fiber-rich outer shell, known as bran. To identify whole grains, look for these ingredients on labels: whole wheat, hard red winter wheat, barley, triticale, oats, rye, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, oatmeal, and bulgur. When looking for fiber-rich whole grains, not all whole grains are made the same. Read the Nutrition Facts panel to identify the fiber content for whole grains.
Pick high-fiber snacks when the midday munchies hit. Perfect answers to an afternoon slump include whole grain granola bars, homemade trail mix, mixed nuts, and dried figs or apricots. Popcorn-a whole grain-is another high-fiber snack. Make sure you are pairing that with a protein source such a yogurt for some good gut health foods too.
Don't rush your intake. Most Americans eat far less than the recommended 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day. Yet making rapid changes to your diet is not advised. Increase fiber gradually to prevent excess gas and bloating and to allow your gastrointestinal tract time to adjust. Yes you might have gas but that is your body adjusting to the new fiber intake. Also, drink more water.When you increase your fiber intake, increase your fluids as well. Fiber pulls water into the intestines. Without adequate hydration, fiber can actually aggravate rather than alleviate constipation. So try to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
Just be sure not to overwhelm yourself with too many changes at once. Pick one or two ideas to try each week and stick with those that work best for you and your family.
References:
1 Marlett JA, McBurney MI, Slavin JL, et al. Position of the American Dietetic Association: health implications of dietary fiber. J Am Diet Assoc 2002;102(7):993-1000.
2 Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis RH, et al. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutr Rev 2009;67(4):188-205.
3 US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. 7th edition. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. 2010;1-122.
4 Vuksan V, Jenkins AL, Jenkins DJA, et al Using cereal to increase dietary fiber intake to the recommended level and the effect of fiber on bowel function in healthy persons consuming North American diets. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;88:1256-1262.

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