Beans, beans the magical fruit the more you eat the more you toot!…. Sorry , I could not resist starting off a post with this popular childhood rhyme about how beans (essentially fiber) keeps you regular.
It’s true not only does a diet rich in fiber keep you “moving” but there are a myriad of other health benefits. Fiber decreases cholesterol levels, lowers your glycemic load which in turn helps regulate your blood sugar, and helps with weight control by helping you feel full on fewer calories.
On the flipside, a low fiber diet can have its drawbacks. Two common problems I see in the office due to limited fiber intake, are abdominal pain and hemorrhoids related to constipation. 9 out of 10 times when I delve further, I find these patients are lacking in their intake of fresh fruits, vegetables , legumes and whole grains. I also have personally found during moments when my fiber intake is lacking, I feel not only physically constipated, but mentally congested as well. I feel sluggish and not as motivated.
Given the fact that fiber is such an important nutrient, I wanted to leave you all with some pearls to improve your fiber intake and consequently your health in general. Please feel free to share in the comments any tips you have to improve one’s fiber intake.
- What is fiber? Dietary fiber is material from plant cells that isn’t broken down in the human digestive tract.
- How much fiber do you need? Total dietary fiber intake should be 25 to 35 grams a day from food not supplements
- Won’t more fiber make me bloated and gassy? This can be true, if your diet is currently low in fiber, give your body time to adapt and drink plenty of fluids when increasing your fiber intake.
- Where do I start? The simplest way to start is by adding in more fruits and vegetables into your daily routine. Here are some tips for breakfast , lunch and dinner.
- Breakfast ideas:
- Top yogurt or oats with sliced apples, strawberries, blueberries, or bananas.
- Blend a smoothie by mixing a cup of fruit (frozen or fresh) with cow’s/soy/almond milk.
- Add vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli,kale, spinach, mushrooms, to your egg or egg white omelet.
- Lunch/Dinner ideas:
- Grab a bag of pre-cut and washed spinach, cabbage or mixed greens as a base for a salad or stir fry.
- Keep a bag of frozen vegetables to add to your favorite rice, pasta, or soup recipe.
- Although fresh is best, if you are looking to save money, look for low-salt canned vegetables and rinse with water for an easy snack or dinner add in.
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