Solution #6 in creating a healthy diet plan is to boost your intake of fiber from whole foods (If you missed solution #5 to creating a healthy diet plan click HERE.) Watch the video above to learn more about some “real world” solutions to simultaneously boosting your fiber and nutrient intake.
Get Your Fiber From FOOD;
Fiber Supplements are Not the Same as Eating a Fiber-Rich Diet
A healthy diet plan is always going to be one that is also rich in fiber. And I don’t mean fiber from fiber supplements, but rather fiber from whole foods. When researchers look at the health promoting benefits of fiber they do so in context of the “whole” food that fiber is a part of—and all of the fiber-rich whole foods also have many other health-promoting properties (such as antioxidants and phytonutrients.) To get the benefits of fiber you need to get fiber from eating whole foods that are naturally fiber-rich. You can’t just isolate the fiber from an apple and then expect to reap all the nutritional goodness of the apple…nutrition is a lot more complicated than isolating single substances.
What Whole Foods Contain Fiber?
Fiber is only found in plant-based carbohydrate containing foods (fiber is the part of the plant our body cannot digest) and thus a healthy diet plan should include plenty of carbohydrate-containing “whole” foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes.
Health Benefits of Eating a Fiber-Rich Diet
So why the fiber hype? Consider the following:
- High fiber diets have been linked to reducing the development of colon and rectal cancer by as much as 50 percent (1). Fiber-rich diets have also been linked to reduced risk of other intestinal diseases including diverticulosis and diverticulitis—in countries where high fiber diets are eaten these diseases are extremely rare. Studies suggest that approximately half of all symptomatic cases of these diseases would be prevented by adhering to a higher fiber diet (2.) Note: The American Cancer Society News Center states fiber-poor, animal-rich diets are a recognized factor in conditions such as diverticulitis and even colon cancer.
- Fiber is nature’s gentle…but effective…detoxifier. Think of fiber as the “broom” that sweeps out your intestines, moving food through your digestive tract and helping eliminate waste, including numerous nasty chemicals that find their way into our intestines and that are potentially carcinogenic. Fiber pulls toxins out of your lower intestine (colon) after they have been processed in the liver and sent there for elimination. Without adequate fiber, toxins can sit in your intestines and get reabsorbed back into the body. YUCK! Note: Not only will a toxin-free body feel better it will also look better—you’ll notice the detoxification changes first in your skin.
- Fiber improves your cholesterol profile.
- Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels (especially important for diabetics)
HUNGER-FREE Weight Loss Benefits of Eating a Fiber-Rich Diet
- Fiber has been proven to help satisfy hunger, minimize the overconsumption of calories, help dilute the caloric density of our diets and shut down appetite.
- Fiber works mechanically to take up bulk and space in your stomach, therefore helping you feel full and satisfied.
- Fiber helps you lose weight. Researchers at Tufts University have shown that people who add an additional 14 grams of fiber to their daily diet end up eating 10% fewer calories when all is said and done at the end of the day (3). In another study, university researchers in Ontario used detailed food diaries to compare the total daily fiber intake of cross sections of the Canadian public (4). The people in this study who maintained a healthy weight were eating a whopping 30% more fiber than those who were overweight.
Got Fiber? Add Beans!!
The average American eating the standard American diet (S.A.D.) only eats about 12 or 14 grams of fiber a day. You want to at the very least double that…but tripling it would be even better.
While all fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain fiber and are therefore excellent food staples in any healthy diet plan, beans and legumes are often overlooked as a fiber superstar. If you can make an effort to eat just one serving (1/2 cup) of beans or legumes each day you will increase your intake of fiber by approximately 7 grams each day. Best of all, beans really are incredibly versatile and super tasty too. They are great in soups, dips, spreads, burritos, casseroles, pilafs and made into burgers. You can eat them alone or toss them in salads.
1. Slattery ML, et al. “Plant foods, fiber and rectal cancer.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Feb; 79(2):274-81.
2. Aldoori WH, et al. “A prospective study of dietary fiber types and symptomatic diverticular disease in men.” J Nutr. 1998 Apr;128(4):714-9.
3. Howarth NC, et al. “Dietary fiber and weight regulation.” Nutr Rev. 2001 May; 59(5):129-39.
4. Alfiere MA, et al. “Fiber intake of normal weight, moderately obese, and severely obese subjects.” Obes Res. 1995 Nov;3(6):541-7.