January 22, 2013
By Betty Murray
The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a fiber to calories ratio of 14 grams per every 1,000 calories for adults, totally approximately 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams of fiber per day for men. Fiber is an essential element of almost any diet. Though fiber is a critical part of our diets, many people do not know why.
Fiber has been linked to longevity. Research released last year points to the connection between fiber and longevity; study participants who met or exceeded the USDA’s recommendations for daily fiber intake were more likely to still be alive in a nine-year follow up than those who did not eat enough fiber.
Fiber linked to fewer cancer deaths in men. The same study mentioned above also found that men who eat plenty of fiber are less likely to die of cancer. Why? Men are more likely to die of cancers related to diet. A healthy diet, rich in fiber, lowers a man’s risk of developing a diet-related cancer.
Fiber helps prevent against pneumonia and flu.
Soluble fiber reduces bad cholesterol by reducing the amount of bile reabsorbed in the intestines. (Read more from Discovery Health.)
Fiber helps prevent diabetes. Eating dietary fiber (found in plant foods) slows the absorption of sugar into the blood stream, helping to regulate blood sugar. This isn’t only beneficial to individuals who suffer from diabetes, but may also prevent development of Type 2 diabetes in people who are at high risk. (Read here for more information.)
Fiber improves digestion by making bowel movements easier.
Aids weight loss. Dietary fiber takes longer to break down in the body, which helps keep you feeling fuller longer, resulting in fewer calories consumed throughout the day. According to this study, people who eat an apple before lunch will consume 15 percent fewer calories.
What you should know about fiber
Get your fiber with these foods
Bran – found in whole grains, oats, rice and corn.
Cocoa powder and dark chocolate – milk chocolate does not provide enough fiber to make up for higher calories, so if you crave chocolate, go for dark chocolate.
Flax seeds, sesame seeds and sesame butter
Dry roasted soybeans – also known as Edamame, make a great snack high in fiber. For every 100 grams consumed, you’ll get 17.7 grams of fiber.
Sun-dried tomatoes – toss a few sun-dried tomatoes into your salad, and you’ll easily increase your daily fiber intake.
Nuts – specifically almonds, pistachios and pecans, are a great snack and a source of fiber.
Beans – boiled mature beans (navy, white, French or kidney beans) provide as much as 10.5 grams of fiber per 100 gram serving.
Fiber is found in most any plant food. Apples, oranges and greens are all excellent sources of fiber. Dried herbs and spices and sunflower seeds are other sources of fiber. If you aren’t used to eating fiber, slowly introduce it into your diet, allowing your digestive system to adjust.
Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.