Sunday, December 8, 2013

Get your Fill with the Fiber Diet

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Fiber was not so popular in the past; it had this kind of laughable reputation as being a bowel-regulator.  However, the benefits of a high fiber diet go far beyond regular bowel movements, whether kids and teens are willing to eat high-fiber cereals or not.  A high-fiber diet is a good idea for all age groups; the need for fiber is not restricted to a certain age group or a certain sex.  Fiber is just plain good for you, and you, and you, and you!

Fiber has many functions in the body, but when we’re looking at fiber from a dieting perspective, we can quickly see the benefits that fiber will have on one’s diet.  The easiest factor to see is that fiber fills people up.  Fiber is one of the densest feeling foods that people can eat and can make the difference between eating 5 slice of puffy white bread and 2 slices of dense, healthy whole-grain bread.  The higher the fiber content, the fuller one feels after have eaten it.  But the benefits don’t stop there.

Higher fiber amounts means that the carbohydrates in the food are more complex.  Sure, everyone’s heard of complex carbohydrates, but what are they exactly?  Well, essentially, the puffy white bread turns into sugar almost immediately once it is eaten; this type of carbohydrate is not complex.  This type of carb is broken down immediately, and some of it is used for energy, and all the excess that you ate (because you didn’t feel full) is turned into sugar and then immediately stored as fat because the body already has enough glucose from the first two pieces on which to run the body.  This is how simple carbohydrates turn from bread to fat within hours of eating them.  You thought eating bread with low-fat cheese meant you weren’t going to put on fat?  Sorry, but unused energy gets stored as fat.

Higher fiber breads, dark (from complex carbs, not from molasses or colorants) and dense, are a much better bet, not only in terms of avoiding fat storage, but also in terms of efficient energy use.  Because these carbs are complex, it takes the body a little time to process them.  Complex carbs are equivalent to ‘slow-release’ medications whereas simple carbs sock it to the body in an all-out attack.  The body uses the slow-release version much more efficiently.  In addition to diet and weight concerns, diabetics and pre-diabetics should only be eating complex carbs (in a controlled manner) since simple carbs can cause just as strong a glucose spike as a candy bar can cause.

In addition to all of these factors above, high fiber diets usually have a lot of useful vitamins and minerals built right in.  Complex carbohydrates from beans, for example, have a lot of other elements that are extremely important to the body’s overall health and the quality of the overall diet when compared to simple carbohydrates.  In addition to nutrients that come alongside fiber, there’s the good that fiber can do for your digestive system; fiber is not only good for your diet, it’s good for your whole system.

Fiber is what keeps people regular when it comes to bowel movements.  A diet that is high in fiber (but not too high—aim for 25 grams per day), paired with adequate water intake will seldom feel bloated and constipated.  Eating too much fiber, or pairing a high fiber diet with low water intake, will result in a very unpleasant, very full feeling.  Considering the diet of most Americans today, there’s virtually no risk of going over 25 grams a day, but keep track of your fiber to know how much you’re getting; chances are it’s only 10-15 grams—kick it up a notch for a diet and overall health boost.


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