Friday, December 7, 2007

Fabulous Fiber

Ask Glen!

Q. Glen, I keep hearing about eating enough Fiber! Is it that good? and what foods can I get it from?

A. Fiber is the part of plant foods that the body cannot digest. It moves through the digestive system, absorbing water. This helps eliminate food waste from the body more quickly. Since fiber is not absorbed, it is not a nutrient. Rather, we refer to fiber as a "component" of food.

Fiber is found in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, dry beans and peas, nuts, seeds, bread, and cereals. (It is not found in animal products — meat, milk, eggs.) Fiber can also be added to foods during processing.

Fiber’s health benefits

Fiber comes in two varieties: soluble, which dissolves in water, and insoluble, which does not. Although fiber does not nourish our bodies, it has other ways of promoting good health as the chart below illustrates.

Soluble Fiber Insoluble Fiber
Name Pectins, gums, mucilages Cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin
What it does Dissolves in water, forming a gel in intestines Holds on to water, moving waste through intestines
How it promotes good health Binds to fatty substances in the intestines and helps carry them out as waste, lowering LDL or bad cholesterol

Regulates the body's use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check.
Helps push food through the intestines quickly, promoting regularity and helping prevent constipation.
Where it's found Dried beans and peas, lentils, oats, barley, apples, bananas, citrus fruits, berries, pears, carrots Whole-wheat products, wheat and corn bran, brown rice, oats, cauliflower, green beans, potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, fruit skins (apple, peach, pear)

Let's talk numbers

How much fiber do you need each day? The current recommendation for adults is 20 to 35 grams. Children over age 2 should consume an amount equal to their age plus 5 grams a day (so a four year old, for example, should get 9 grams a day). The average American falls short of the ideal and eats only 10 to 15 grams of dietary fiber a day.

To get more fiber add more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet with these easy tips:

  • Add some berries on your breakfast cereal or try an apple with peanut butter for a snack.
  • Have vegetables at each meal; sauté with a little olive oil, steam, grill, or just enjoy them raw.
  • For an afternoon snack dip baby carrots and celery sticks in hummus.
  • Cook with beans; add them to your soups, pasta dishes, or try them on a salad.
  • Choose whole grain breads (100% whole-wheat) and whole-wheat pasta, or brown rice.

Start slowly when you up your fiber intake. This will help relieve the bloating, cramping, and gas that some people experience when eating more fiber. Be sure to drink more water as well to help the fiber pass through the intestines more easily. Getting fiber naturally from foods assures you all of the other phytonutrients as well. Fiber-only supplements, however, are available for a fiber boost.

Label reading 101

You can figure out how much fiber a food contains by reading the package label. Keep in mind that the amount of fiber listed is based on the serving size, not the entire package. Foods that are an excellent source of fiber contain 5 grams or more per serving. See the chart below for examples of the fiber content of various foods.

Food Serving Size Grams of Fiber
Bran cereal 1/3 cup 8.3
Quinoa 1/2 cup 5
Bran flakes 3/4 cup 5
Bulgur (cooked) 1/2 cup 4.1
Oatmeal (cooked) 1 cup 4
Brown rice 1/2 cup 3.5
Cream of wheat, instant 1 cup 2.9
Whole wheat bread 1 slice 2
Raspberries 1 cup 8.4
Prunes, stewed 1/2 cup 8
Blackberries 1 cup 7.6
Apricots, dried 1/2 cup 4.8
Pears 1 medium 4
Blueberries 1 cup 3.9
Apple 1 medium 3.7
Strawberries 1 cup 3.3
Banana 1 medium 2.8
Artichoke 1 medium 6.5
Winter squash (cooked) 1 cup 5.7
Collard greens (boiled) 1 cup 5.3
Snow peas (edible pod peas) 1 cup 4.5
Spinach (cooked) 1 cup 4.3
Broccoli (raw; cooked) 1 cup; 1/2 cup 2.6
Kidney beans, red, canned 1/2 cup 8.2
Baked beans 1/2 cup 7
Navy beans, canned 1/2 cup 6.7
Refried beans (edible pod peas) 1/2 cup 6
Chickpeas, canned 1/2 cup 5.3

Juice vs. the whole fruit

Juice is the concentrated form of fruit. Even though no sugar is added to the juice, it has more sugar than the whole fruit. Juice also lacks the fiber that naturally occurs in fruit. In general, the closer foods are to their natural, unprocessed state, the better. The chart below provides some examples:

Food Serving Size Grams of Fiber
Apple with peel One medium 4
Apple without peel One medium 2.1
Applesauce 1/2 cup 1.5
Apple juice 1 cup 0.25

Any personal health questions or problems mental or physical or before starting any diet or exercise program. Please consult your physician !

Wishing You A Healthy Life Style!

Any questions?

Ask Glen!

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Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States
Is the Founder of Fitness Builders 4 Life,the WorkOut GEM,G350,G180, G90, Eat 4 Life, Clean, Lean & Mean & Ask Glen. The mission of the Fitness Builders is to provide the community with health education and to empower people to change unhealthy lifestyles thereby increasing life expectancy. By educating the community on healthier lifestyle practices it is the intent of Fitness Builders to reduce the ravages of obesity, heart disease, cancer and other lifestyle or self inflicted diseases. Glen is also a AMA Certified Nutrition Specialist and a ACE, ACSM, NASM Certified Personal Trainer has 30+ years in Sports, Exercise Science and Nutritional Food Management, Learning and Mentoring Men and Women on a more Mental & Physical Healthy Life Style consisting of a low fat, low salt, Low carbohydrate, high protein, organic nutrition which also includes moderate exercise and mental awareness. Stay Informed, Live long and be Mentally and Physically Healthy! Any questions? Ask Glen!

Any Questions? Ask Glen!