You know they talk about “moral fiber,” well “dietary fiber” can be seen in just the same light. A person is said to have moral fiber if he/she sticks to their convictions in the belief that they are doing the right thing. A parent who sacrifices everything and does anything for their children’s well-being is displaying good moral fiber. A businessman who refuses to take a bribe is showing strong moral fiber.
Well dietary fiber is both good and strong…and many in the field of healthcare are now coming to believe and commend its quality.
What is dietary fiber?
Dietary fiber (also known as ‘roughage’ or ‘bulk’) is important for many reasons and has been proven to be a good ally in the fight against illness and disease. Unlike fats, proteins and carbohydrates, fiber is the part in plant foods that our bodies can’t digest or absorb. In other words fiber passes through our stomachs, small intestine, and colon and out the other end more or less intact.
So what good does that do you may wonder? Well, mainly fiber provides the body with the ability to be rid of the waste products once we have digested other forms of foods. It is fiber that makes passing this waste - known as stool in the medical profession (or crap for the less academically-minded!) – a whole lot easier than it might otherwise be. That is the number one (or should that be number 2?) role of fiber, which obviously is beneficial to all of us. Effective removal of food waste from our bodies is vital for health. And if you are wondering why you are constipated, then the answer is simple – you’re not eating enough fiber.
Benefits of fiber
But fiber has many other medically-proven benefits, and is now viewed as a strong natural force for good in the fight against diabetes, high cholesterol levels, weight gain, colon cancer, heart disease, and various gastrointestinal disorders. In the case of diabetes, fiber enables the body to dispose of excess glucose that might otherwise get into the bloodstream, and cause blood sugar levels to rise. In the battle of the bugle, it is people who don’t eat enough (or any fiber at all) that will find themselves putting on weight, as it is the high-calorie foods (such as sweets, cakes, cookies, chips, burgers in buns, fried chicken, processed junk food) that contain very little, if any, fiber.
The pitiful stats
It has been estimated that on average American citizens consume less than 50% of the recommended daily supply of fiber their bodies require for healthy living, and the same studies have shown that fiber intake in the nation’s youth is as low as 20% of the amount recommended. Little wonder then that we are a nation of obese specimens! And little wonder that the government’s Food and Drug Administration has given approval for the food industry to make health claims about fiber in an effort to get people eating more of it.
Fiber and weight loss
When it comes to attempts to achieve weight loss, it is high-fiber foods that are often mentioned in diets because foods with high-fiber content help to stave off hunger. Fiber foods are also generally low in calories, and because they are also not being digested, none of it is being stored as fat.
Once again, it will come as no surprise to followers of diet and nutrition that the foods that contain the most fiber are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and most beans (legumes) – all the foods that are generally promoted as the best foods for us to eat. They are promoted as the best foods for us to eat because they contain so many of the vital minerals, vitamins, and other nutritious elements that are bodies need to function efficiently.
Recommended fiber intake
Fiber is another of those nutritious elements, and it has been a general medical rallying call to us all for some time that everyone needs to be eating more fiber to maintain health and good plumbing. The American Diabetic Association recommends that everyone needs to be consuming at least 25 grams of fiber daily.
An example of a high-fiber meal plan comprising 3 meals and one snack, looks like this:
whole grain cereal with fruit, almonds, wheat germ, and non-fat milk
- crunchy tuna salad, whole wheat crackers, fruit and carrots
- beef and pepper saute, with pilaf rice- and fruit
- whole wheat crackers and low fat cheese
A high fiber low fat diet plan like this, which is fairly easy to prepare, provides the minimum level of fiber as recommended by the American Heart Association.
High fiber foods
Here’s a few of the best high-fiber foods you can eat and form as part of a high-fiber diet:
Foods High In Fiber
% of Recommended Daily Allowance
Whole wheat bread – one slice
Bran flakes – 1 cup
Brown rice – 1 cup
Whole wheat spaghetti – 1 cup
Red kidney beans – 100g
Canned baked beans – 1 cup
Almonds – 1oz, raw
Broccoli – 1 medium stalk, cooked
Savoy cabbage – 1 cup, cooked
Spinach – 1 cup, cooked
Potato – large, baked, flesh & skin
Sweet potato – 1 cup, baked, flesh & skin
Peas – 1 cup, frozen
Apple – small (4 per lb)
Banana – medium, raw
Pear – medium, raw
Incorporating any of these into a well-planned daily menu will bring enormous benefits to you and should form the basis of many of your meals. But like many diet regimen’s that you might be tempted to plan yourself, it is important to have balance in mind, because, although fiber plays a vital role in good health, there are other elements to achieving a good daily diet that must be considered too.
Which is why changingshape.com was founded to help people looking to improve their physical well-being, with well-structured plans based on sound nutrition and science, provided by professional experts with genuine knowledge.
Matthew Johnson (Google+) is a certified personal trainer, nutrition expert and an on-line fitness consultant that started ChangingShape.com back in 2001.