I last wrote about fiber in Nov 2011 (#140) and thought it was time for a reminder. Fiber helps regulate bowel movements, keeps our blood sugar levels in balance, and helps us achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stools, preventing constipation. It also helps remove toxins from the colon and improves the pH, lowering the risk of colon cancer. Sources of insoluble fiber are wheat bran, flaxseed, whole grains, root vegetable skins, beans and popcorn.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel. It slows emptying of the stomach, normalizing blood sugar levels. It also binds with fatty acids causing them to be expelled in the stool, resulting in less stored fat and improved cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber also binds with and helps removes toxins. Sources include psyllium hulls, chia seed, oat bran, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
We need both types of fiber. Dr Gifford-Jones’ test for sufficient fiber is if your stool floats and is soft like toothpaste. If it's hard and sinks, you aren’t getting enough! Most of us get far less than the recommended 35 grams a day. Since adding a psyllium-flax blend to my breakfast routine I have two large easy BMs a day. But fiber does far more than give us big soft poops. Studies link dietary fiber to reduced risks of: heart disease, respiratory illness, diabetes, high blood pressure, colon and some other cancers, and death from all causes.
As part of a weight control program, fiber plays several roles. High fiber foods have a low energy-density allowing you to eat more food with fewer calories. Fiber makes you feel full reducing your appetite. Finally, by controlling blood sugar, it reduces carbohydrate cravings, lowers insulin resistance, and promotes burning of calories rather than storage as fat.
To improve your health, prevent disease, increase your energy and maintain a healthy weight, simply add more fiber to your diet.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.