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Benefits of Fiber

Fiber isn't just for Grandpa. Nutrition's "Ugly Betty" is a friend

By
Monica Reinagel, M.S.,L.D./N
July 25, 2008
Episode #002

Today, I’d like to give you four great reasons to eat more! More fiber, that is.

I know, I know, fiber doesn't seem like a very glamorous subject. There's something so...frumpy about it. I didn't even want to put the word in the title of the show! But now that I've got your attention, give me five minutes to show you why a high-fiber diet isn't just for Grandpa--it's your ticket to a slimmer, healthier body.

Reason #1. Fiber keeps the weight off.

If you're watching your weight, fiber is your best friend. High fiber foods fill you up with fewer calories because they are naturally bulky, which makes your stomach feel full. Fiber also slows down the digestive process so you can go longer without feeling hungry again. It even decreases the amount of fat and calories that are absorbed from the digestive tract! Trying to lose weight on a low-fiber diet is like parallel parking without power steering. Sure, it's possible, but why make things harder than they need to be?

Reason #2. Fiber prevents disease.

Fiber is your body's janitorial staff. It sweeps up digestive and cellular debris, mops up cholesterol, environmental toxins and surplus hormones, and takes out the trash. That's why a high-fiber diet reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and many kinds of cancer. If you've ever been in Manhattan during a garbage strike, you know that waste management is one municipal service you don't ever want to live without. Same with your body.

Reason #3. Life is better when you're regular

The only people who find the subject of irregularity funny are those who've never suffered from it. And the two of you can just keep your chuckles to yourself! The reason so many people suffer from occasional or chronic constipation is that most people don't eat anywhere near enough fiber. 'Nuff said.

Reason #4. Fiber hangs out with a cool crowd.

You can get more fiber by taking a fiber supplement every day. But you'll be much better off if you simply eat more foods that are naturally rich in fiber. That's because fiber tends to be found in foods that are also full of antioxidants, phytonutrients, lignans, phenols, and other good stuff. When you eat more high-fiber foods, your entire diet gets a nutritional upgrade.

See how much sexier fiber is than you ever imagined?

Give nutrition's "Ugly Betty" a chance

The USDA recommends that you get at least 25 grams of fiber a day. Personally, I think 35-40 grams a day is ideal. But most people get less than ten or so grams a day. No wonder so many of us are over-weight, under-well, and cranky!

To get more fiber, start most days with a high fiber cereal (which is also a great weight loss strategy). Be sure to eat several servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Eat more beans and legumes and choose whole grains over refined as often as possible. Keep track of how much fiber you're eating by reading labels and keeping a running tally as you go through the day.

This week, "strive for 25" grams of fiber each day and see if you don't feel leaner, trimmer, and friskier by the end of the week.  To make it easier, click here if you want my Quick Tip about foods that are surprisingly high in fiber.

For more about fiber, check out my episode on the difference between soluble and insoluble fibers.

These tips are provided for your information and entertainment and are not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, please work with your health professional to determine what’s right for you.

For a delicious gourmet crostini recipe that allows you to use your leftover bread, head over here.

If you have a nutrition question that you'd like me to answer in an upcoming episode, send an e-mail to nutrition@quickanddirtytips.com.

RESOURCES:
Foods That are High in Fiber

Some Great High-Fiber Recipes

 

 

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