Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Benefits of a High-Fiber Diet Whether you want to lose weight or keep your heart healthy, dietary fiber is the key. Find out why eating a high-fiber diet has so many advantages. By Wyatt Myers Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH Print ArticlePrintE-mail ArticleE-mail When it comes to the foods we eat, we hear nutrition experts throw around a lot of buzzwords: whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean sources of protein. Unfortunately, one of the most important nutrients of all is also one that most Americans don’t get enough of: dietary fiber. The Benefits of a High-Fiber Diet According to the Harvard School of Public Health, most Americans get only 15 grams of dietary fiber a day, when they should be getting anywhere from 20 to more than 30 grams. “In my opinion, fiber is the number one nutrient that is deficient in most American diets,” says nutrition expert and researcher William E. Wheeler, PhD, RD. Once you understand its role in prevent a variety of illnesses as well as being a great weight loss aid, you’ll want to make the switch to a high-fiber diet. High-Fiber Diet: Weight Control Wonder One of the best side effects of eating a high-fiber diet is that you may find it easier to maintain or even lose weight. There are several reasons why dietary fiber is so good at this. For one, foods high in fiber are usually healthier and lower in calories. “High-fiber foods take longer to chew and tend to prolong eating time. Eating more slowly allows your body enough time to begin to experience feelings of fullness so that you are less likely to overeat,” says Marlene Lesson, RD, nutrition director of Structure House, a weight-loss center in Durham, N.C. “High-fiber foods tend to be low-calorie density, which means they provide more volume for the number of calories.” High-Fiber Diet: Digestive Dynamo Dietary fiber keeps you regular, helping you avoid constipation and other digestive problems. “High fiber foods add bulk to the stool. Bulkier stools actually move through the bowels more easily, reducing the amount of pressure there,” says Sue DeCotiis, MD, a physician in private practice in New York. “Think of the colon as a long, flexible tube. When it is constricting and struggling to push a low-bulk stool through, it cramps up and becomes tight, and this causes constipation, gas, and bloating. This is a very simplified explanation, but a high-fiber diet prevents many intestinal complaints, including hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, and irritable bowel syndrome.” High-Fiber Diet: Healthy for Your Heart When moving through the stomach and intestines, fiber is absorbing a lot more than just water. It also picks up fats and bile salts, shuttling them out of the body rather than letting them travel to the bloodstream. This prevents these harmful particles from becoming cholesterol. And lower cholesterol means a healthier heart and cardiovascular system. “Clinical studies have overwhelmingly shown that dietary fiber lowers blood cholesterol levels,” says Wheeler. “Consequently, cardiovascular health is improved.” Dietary Fiber: How to Find It Now that you know what dietary fiber is and why you need it, look for the foods that are fiber powerhouses: Fruits and vegetables. Not only are fruits and vegetables delicious and versatile, they are also some of the easiest foods to prepare. Add some to every meal to get a healthy dose of fiber in your diet. Whole grains. Choose whole grain cereals, breads, and pastas rather than refined “white” choices to boost your fiber intake. Beans and other legumes. There are many varieties to choose from, and each packs a healthy punch of fiber. Above all, look for whole foods rather than processed choices, even those that have added fiber. Says Lesson, “Natural foods with intact fiber have more vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients than processed foods to which isolated or synthetic fibers have been added.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Welcome to Weight Loss Coach Sherrie's Blog!

I am currently trying a new way of eating (forget about that nasty "D" word!). I am following the "Schwarzbein Principle" and learning ways to focus on creativity and taking care of ME. I am currently in Body Blissmas, a program started by Jill Badonsky. As I learn to focus on healthy eating and being happy and creative, I would like to help you do the same.

Are you currently trying to lose weight?