(Visit: http://www.uctv.tv/) Dr.. Robert Baron explores why we should care about what we eat – from calories to fiber – and general principles of a healthy diet and lifestyle. He also looks at dietary supplements and they role they play in preventing illness. Recorded on 03/18/2015. Series: “UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine presents Mini Medical School for the Public” [6/2015] [Health and Medicine] [Show ID: 29284]
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Time to expand your knowledge of fiber. It’s not that rough. Get some fiber with these healthy tips.
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Fiber. You probably know it’s good for you, but if you’re like nearly half of all Americans, you still don’t get enough of it in your diet.
It’s time to expand your fiber knowledge: What exactly is fiber?
Dietary fiber mostly includes carbohydrates the body can’t break down or absorb. Because this roughage can’t be digested, our bodies don’t use it as an energy source. But it’s still an essential part of a healthy diet.
There are two types of fiber: “soluble” and “insoluble”, depending on whether the fiber dissolves during digestion.
Soluble fiber is found in whole grains like oats and barley, as well as in foods like flaxseed, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits and carrots. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance that slows down digestion. This can help stabilize blood sugar levels and curb hunger. That’s important for maintaining a healthy weight and even for helping to prevent or control Type 2 Diabetes.
Insoluble fiber is the second kind of dietary fiber. Your body doesn’t break this stuff down at all. So it moves through your digestive system, helping everything else move along with it, increasing stool bulk. That may not sound so pleasant, but hey, if you’re constipated or have irregular stools, you’ll REALLY appreciate what fiber does. It also helps prevent diverticulitus and hemorrhoids. Don’t worry. There’s no illustration on this. I’ll just move things along myself by letting you know that Insoluble fiber is found in whole wheat, dark green leafy vegetables and nuts.
There’s a solid body of research that points to fiber as important in preventing or controlling heart disease. Consuming soluble fiber can help lower low-density lipoprotein (or “bad”) cholesterol levels, and that protects your entire cardiovascular system. Some studies even suggest that adequate fiber intake could lower your risk of developing several types of cancer. But more research needs to be done.
How much fiber should you be eating? The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine recommends that men under 50 eat 38 grams of fiber a day, and women under 50 eat 25 grams. For adults over 50, men need 30 grams and women 21 grams daily. That’s a whole lot more than the 14 grams most of us are currently chewing on.
Adding bulk to your diet might seem difficult, but it’s really not so hard. Good choices include whole foods that are healthy for a whole lot of reasons: whole grains, whole fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. You get the “whole” idea, right? And if that’s not enough, over the counter supplements may be the way to go. Talk to your doctor about which is the best choice for you.
And steer clear of refined or processed foods like canned fruits and vegetables, pulp-free juices, white breads, white rice, white pasta and non-whole grain cereals. They are all lower in fiber content because the refining process removes the bran from the grain and the skin from the fruits and vegetables….and that’s where most of the fiber is.
As a Registered Dietician, I recommend that you increase the fiber in your diet slowly over a period of a few weeks to avoid intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change.
And drink plenty of water. Fiber works best when it absorbs water, making everything go…well, smoothly.
You can handle it. It’s not that rough. Get some fiber.
1. Metabolic Effects of Dietary Fiber Consumption and Prevention of Diabetes by Martin O. Weickert and Andreas F. H. Pfeiffer, The Journal of Nutrition (downloaded from jn.nutrition.org at Univ of Miami Calder Memorial Lib on September 22, 2008)
© American Society for Nutrition. J. Nutr. 138: 439–442, 2008.
2. Health benefits of dietary fiber by Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis RH Jr, Ferreri S, Knudtson M, Koraym A, Waters V, Williams CL, Nutr Rev. 2009 Apr;67(4):188-205.
3. Effects of soluble dietary fiber on low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and coronary heart disease risk by Bazzano LA, Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2008 Dec;10(6):473-7.
4. Dietary fiber in the prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome: a review by Aleixandre A, Miguel M., Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2008 Nov;48(10):905-12.
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