High fiber foods may be the most underrated food source relevant to our physical well-being. In fact, when it comes to our health, fiber surprisingly gets a bum rap!
With apologies for an audacious pun, it is time we realize that fiber, as part of a healthy, balanced diet, does more for our well being than merely help to remedy constipation.
Not that this isn’t important enough. For seniors in particular, constipation is more than an inconvenience. It is a major health concern. Not keeping ourselves well nourished and well cleansed is, simply put, dangerous to our health.
But just like proteins, fats and carbohydrates, perhaps we ought to attempt right now to understand and appreciate fiber as an equally essential food source rather than wait until old age when high fiber foods tend to become an unavoidable part of our daily consciousness.
FIBER IS EVERYBODY’S FRIEND
Fiber isn’t just for old fogies! Regardless of age, fiber needs to be regarded equally essential to our good health as proteins, fats and carbohydrates. For those of you with children in your care, the importance of fiber is non-negotiable because children rely on us to make good food choices on their behalf.
At the risk of more ill-attempted light-heartedness at the expense of a serious matter, fiber needs to become a regular part of our daily diet for reasons beyond that of keeping us regular.
In fact, fiber as a food source is such a serious matter, Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommend that children, adults and seniors alike get no less than 20 to 35 grams of dietary fiber each and every day. For children, in order to ensure adequate intake of dietary fiber, a good formula is to take their age and add five grams for total grams of fiber needed. A seven-year-old, for example, should get no less than 12 grams of fiber daily.
Sadly, today’s adults typically eat only ½ of the daily recommended 20 to 35 grams of fiber, thereby short-supplying themselves of an important array of healthy nutrients.
It is time we begin to associate our need for dietary fiber with more than the effective treatment of constipation. Fiber has been clinically linked to help reduce the risk of an assortment of killer diseases, heart disease and the rising epidemic of diabetes among them.
A diet rich in fiber has been shown to help prevent our coronary arteries from hardening and becoming narrow because of internal plaque build-up. This, of course, is what can lead to a massive heart attack or stroke.
Several studies demonstrate that proper fiber intake is good for our heart because it seems to have a beneficial effect on lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol and raising levels of good (HDL) cholesterol. Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol, of course, are a precursor to heart disease.
Fiber is also considered an excellent aid to weight loss because it helps to maintain the right level of triglycerides, the particles in our blood that carry dietary fat. When the level of triglycerides become unbalanced, excess fat from the saturated and trans fatty foods we eat can go unprocessed, staying in our body as stored fat. We all know what that means.
The perfect partner for fiber in the elimination of toxins and waste through our bowel is water – and plenty of it. To stay healthfully flushed and cleansed, the Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board encourages us to eat the recommended daily amount of high fiber foods and drink six to eight (8 ounce) glasses of water every day.
Note: This is the first post of a three-part series on the importance of fiber to our daily health. Part II discusses separates fiber fact from fiber fiction and will appear next Thursday. For more on fiber, visit the Fiber category to the right.
A healthy tip is easier to implement than a complete change of diet, so please share your healthy tips with our readers. Our blog’s mission is to help you improve your health, one easy-to-do tip at a time.