Tag Archives: dietary fiber

Get Your Fill of Fiber

Fiber is an integral part of the human diet, and while it’s easy to get enough, most Americans don’t.  Found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, fiber is a carbohydrate that makes up the roughage, or indigestible part, of the foods we eat.  A lack of fiber can result in diabetes, weight gain, overeating and constipation while the right amounts can help lower levels of bad cholesterol and risk of heart disease.  Here are some tips to make sure you have the right amount of fiber in your diet and some of the best places to get it.

There are two kinds of fiber and both are important to maintaining a healthy digestive system.  Soluble fibers, which absorb water and slow digestion, can help you feel full and have been shown to have a Foods With Fiberpositive effect on insulin sensitivity.  Soluble fibers are good for helping maintain healthy weight because the food that contains them typically takes longer to chew, giving your body time to register when it’s full.  Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, carrots, celery and beans.  Insoluble fiber comes from fruit, dark, leafy vegetables, and whole grains.  Indigestible, they travel through our guts without breaking down and help keep everything moving along.  Recommended daily intake of all fibers is 25 grams for women under 50 and 35 grams for men under 50.  Women over 50 should have about 21 grams per day, men 30.

You can get fiber from a supplement, but the best way to meet your daily needs is through a healthy diet.  The key to getting enough fiber is a diet that is rich vegetables, fruits and whole grains.  When first increasing fibrous food intake, do so slowly, as it may cause intestinal gas, cramps and bloating while your body adjusts.  Drinking more water is also important because soluble fiber does soak water up and can lead to dehydration.  Read labels to check out the fiber content of foods, and pick those that pack a punch.  You can find three of those great for you foods right here.  Easy ways to add fibrous foods to your diet include eating whole grain cereals or oatmeal for breakfast, adding black beans to salads and soups at lunch and substituting quinoa for pasta at dinner.

Need help adding fiber to your diet?  Register for our Pamper Your Pantry Program today!  Email Info@FitNicePT for more information!

A Balanced Diet Part III: Vegetables

So now you’re eating the right kind of grains, it would be great to have something to go with them.  Vegetables are an integral part of any diet, adding flavor, color and nutritional value to any meal.  They contain no cholesterol, and are low in fat and calories.  The dietary fiber present in vegetables helps lower the risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke, while aiding in the prevention of certain types of cancer and obesity.  This dietary fiber gives vegetables to ability to give a feeling of fullness with fewer calories than many other foods.  Found in vegetables, Vitamins A and C keep eyes and skin healthy, help heal cuts and wounds, and aid in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

There are five types of vegetables: dark green (broccoli, romaine lettuce, spinach), starchy (corn, green peas, potatoes), beans and peas (kidney beans, split peas, black beans), red and orange (butternut squash, carrots, tomatoes), and other vegetables (beets, celery, zucchini).  It is recommended that adults (ages 9 and over) consume between two and three cups of vegetables each day.  A cup is measured using chopped vegetables, and any whole vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a serving.  Beans and peas are special because they are also a great source of plant protein, which makes them similar to meat, poultry and fish.  Vegetarians and vegans, who don’t consume animal protein, should consume larger amounts of protein filled beans and peas to make sure they are getting enough dietary protein.

There are a few keys to getting the right kind of nutrition from your vegetable selections.  The first is to buy fresh and in season.  Fresh foods contain less sodium and more flavor.  If fresh options aren’t available, choose canned or frozen vegetables that are labeled ‘reduced sodium’, ‘low sodium’ or ‘no salt added’.  To make adding vegetables to a meal easy, buy prewashed bags of salad, or be sure to rinse all vegetables with clean water and dry before cooking or preparing.  Once they’re clean and ready to go, add them to any dish for an infusion of color and flavor.  Also try using vegetables as snacks by adding a low fat dressing as a dip.  Keeping some pre-sliced vegetables in the fridge helps make eating these nutritious foods quick and simple.

So throw some green, red or orange vegetables in with your next meal and make it a nutritional success!

For more information on the Vegetables Group, check out http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/vegetables.html, and check back in for the next Segment, A Balanced Diet Part IV: Fruits.

A Balanced Diet Part II: Grains

At the base of the Food Pyramid is Grains, also known as the starch group.  The first, and largest, of the five major food groups contains any food made from wheat, oats, rice, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain.  Grain based foods such as pasta, bread, and cereal, are divided into two types: whole grains and refined grains.

Whole grains are made with the entire grain seed, which contains the bran, germ and endosperm.  Examples of whole grains are whole-wheat flour, oatmeal and brown rice.  These foods contain plenty of dietary fiber, helping to manage weight and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.  Whole grains are also rich in complex carbohydrates that take your body time to digest, providing long term energy and preventing the blood sugar spike often associated with eating refined grain products.

Refined grains, unlike whole grains, are milled to remove the bran and the germ.  This results in a loss of B vitamins, iron and dietary fiber.  Some types of refined grains are white flour, white bread, and white rice.  ‘Enriched’ products have B vitamins, folate (folic acid aids in preventing cancer and birth defects), and iron replaced after the milling process, but still contain little dietary fiber.  Because they contain little dietary fiber and lack nutrients, refined grains, or simple carbohydrates, are less filling and easy to overeat.  Your body also turns simple carbohydrates quickly into sugars, leading to a rapid increase in blood sugar and a subsequent crash when consumed.

Roughly half of daily caloric intake should come from the grain group, so six to eleven servings per day are recommended based on activity level and age.  A serving of grain is considered equivalent to one slice of bread.  This can also be half an English muffin, half cup cooked pasta, three cups of popcorn, or one cup of ready to eat cereal.  The key to making successful grain choices is reading labels and finding a way to work whole grain products into your eating schedule.  When reading labels, select products that list at least one type of whole grain as the first ingredient.

For more information on the Grain group, check out http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/grains.html and get ready for the next segment, A Balanced Diet Part III: Vegetables.