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By: Toni Schklar
Yes, as Dr. Oz says, “it regulates our poop,” but fiber does a lot more than that for our health and wellness.
- Increases food volume without increasing caloric content – it makes us feel full and reduces appetite, thus contributing to reduced food intake.
- Attracts water and forms a “gel” during digestion that slows the emptying of the stomach and delays absorption of glucose, which helps keep blood sugar levels stable.
- Lowers total cholesterol and LDL (lousy cholesterol), which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Regulates blood sugar, which may reduce glucose and insulin levels in diabetic patients and may lower risk of becoming diabetic.
- Speeds the passage of foods through the digestive system, which assists with bowel regularity.
- Adds bulk to the stool, which decreases likelihood of constipation.
- Balances the intestinal pH and promotes the production of healthy intestinal bacteria, which may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
- Increases the absorption of calcium, magnesium and iron.
- Stimulates production of T-helper cells, antibodies and lymph mechanisms that are all crucial to immune protection.
High fiber foods include fruits, grains (e.g. healthy cereals and pasta), legumes (e.g. peas and green beans), nuts, seeds and vegetables.
Read labels on foods you purchase. It is recommended that adults consume 25 grams to 35 grams of fiber each day (the average American’s daily intake: only 12-18 grams). Children’s intake should equal age in years plus 5 grams per day (e.g. a 4-year-old should consume 9 grams of fiber per day). Anyone with digestive concerns and medical conditions should see a physician before significantly modifying his or her fiber intake.
A key point: You should gradually increase fiber intake over a two to three-week period to give the body time to adjust. Rapidly increasing fiber intake can result in excessive gas formation and cramping. Drink a minimum of six to eight caffeine-free cups of liquid per day to avoid creation of a blockage or constipation.
In other words, add the fiber slowly and drink plenty of water or you’re going to be unhappy.