Dr. Z Blog

“A healthy outside, starts from the inside.”

“A healthy outside, starts from the inside.”

-Robert Urich

Ah, summer. Time to eat hot dogs and burgers fresh off the grill, cool down with a popsicle, and enjoy the crisp refreshing crunch of juicy, sweet watermelon. The last thing on your mind is the amount of fiber you’re eating but believe me it is important. We’ve all been told to eat more fiber but why is it so important? Let’s take a look, and if you’ve been eating fiber this will give you something to read the next time you have to go number 2!

Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, is the parts of plant foods your body can’t digest or absorb. Dietary fiber is commonly found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes and unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins and carbohydrates, which your body breaks down and absorbs, fiber isn’t digested by your body. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine and large intestine (colon) and out of your body. There are two types of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes, are good sources of insoluble fiber.

Fiber does more than just help bowel movements become more regular. Fiber plays an important role in the health of your large intestines as well. A diet that is high in fiber can decrease your risk of developing hemorrhoids, diverticulitis (small pouches in your colon that become inflamed), and certain types of colorectal cancers. Fiber also helps improve your cholesterol levels, especially the “bad” low density lipoprotein cholesterol. Studies have also found that a high fiber diet can improve hearth health but reducing blood pressure and inflammation. Not only is it good for your heart but fiber also helps control blood sugar levels; soluble fiber slows the absorption of sugar and keeps insulin and blood sugars more stable. Fiber is also great at helping you lose weight; high fiber foods are more filling and take longer to digest than low fiber foods. This means that you will eat less and feel full for longer, and will consume fewer calories for the same amount of food. Research also indicates that a diet high in fiber can help you live longer, as a high fiber diet is associated with a decrease in risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and all cancers.

You may be asking yourself, how much fiber do you I need? The Institute of Medicine recommends that women consume between 21 – 25 grams of fiber per day and men consume 30 to 38 grams of fiber per day. Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, legumes and products made from whole grains. You can also get fiber from nuts and seeds but these may also contain high amounts of fat so if you’re on a calorie restricted diet eat in moderation. If you still find you’re missing fiber, then supplements can help but try to get most of your fiber from whole foods.

Here are some easy ways to get more fiber into your diet. Start your day with a whole grain meal, like oatmeal, steel cut oats or quinoa. When it’s snack time reach for a piece of fruit or have some vegetables. Add vegetables, like celery, broccoli, or carrots to your lunch and dinner for an easy fiber boost. Peas, beans and lentils are a great high fiber substitute for lower fiber foods like rice. And one more piece of advice when adding fiber to your diet, increase the amount of fiber you’re eating gradually over the course of a week or two. Gradually increasing fiber intake will help your body adjust to the increased fiber and decrease gas, bloating, cramping and your risk of diarrhea. And drink plenty of water as fiber best when it has plenty of water to absorb.

So you can see that fiber is a great way to improve heart health, gut health, decrease risk of cancer, decrease risk of diabetes and help with weight loss. This is why we focus on eating whole foods, fruits and vegetables and have included fiber supplements in our Blood Sugar Bootcamp program. To learn more about our healthy weight and lifestyle programs visit our website, drzwny.com or call the office at 822-BACK.

 Article written by:

Dr. Marshall Dornink