Having enough fiber in your diet can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Nationally known board-certified nutritionist Dr. Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, aka "The Nutrition Myth Buster," tells Newsmax that while we tend to think of fiber as a tool for bowel regularity, it's essential to overall health.
"Here are four reasons why having enough fiber in your diet can improve cardiovascular health and reduce your risk of other diseases,” he says.
- Fiber helps keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range, which is important for everyone, but especially for those who are overweight or at risk for diabetes and heart disease.
- It helps support normal, healthy blood pressure.
- A fiber-rich diet is an important weight management tool, says Bowden, the author of 15 books, including. "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth." "Dozens of studies have linked higher fiber intake with weight control," he adds. "Fiber promotes satiety or a feeling of fullness, reducing hunger and subsequently reducing food intake."
- Virtually every population study ever done shows a strong association between high-fiber diets and lower risks of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Bowden says that the Institute of Medicine recommends that we consume between 25 grams and 38 grams of fiber daily, but the average American gets one-third of this. Here is a handy fiber food chart to help calculate the amount of fiber in many common food items.
We need both soluble and insoluble fiber to be healthy. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, adding volume to the stomach and keeps blood sugar levels steady while making it easier to pass stool. Some examples of foods with soluble fiber are apples, avocados, bananas, plums, cereal grains, beans, and seeds such as chia and flaxseed.
Insoluble fiber, as the name suggests, doesn't dissolve in water but forms a soft pulp that helps your colon contract to promote regularity. "It's found in wheat bran, many vegetables, and some fruits such as grape skins, berries, pineapple and oranges," notes Bowden. "Many foods have both. Which is good!"
Fiber also acts as a prebiotic that promotes good gut bacteria. If you aren't getting enough fiber from your food, Bowden suggests boosting your intake through supplements.
Here are things to consider when buying a supplement:
- Fiber powders provide more fiber per serving and are more cost effective than capsules.
- Look for a fiber that mixes thoroughly with water forming an invisible, virtually undetectable solution that works well with your favorite beverages.
- Take fiber supplements with plenty of water. This makes them more tolerable and delivers the fiber to the colon, where it works best.
Other easy ways to boost your fiber intake:
- Add chia, flaxseed, raisins or berries to your oatmeal or cereal.
- Ditch the corn flakes and rice crisp cereals and choose a high-fiber brand.
- Use sprouted whole-grain breads instead of white bread.
- Eat whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta.
- Snack on nuts, seed and dried fruit.
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