Any food item that you choose to eat belongs to any of the five food groups-fruits, veggies, whole grains, proteins and dairy. There are a whole lot of foods available at your disposal but choosing the right ones depends on your discretion. If health is your priority it is always better to choose fiber-rich foods. Fiber, a type of carbohydrate that leaves the body undigested helps to regulate blood sugar levels and keeps hunger in check. Above all, it lowers the risk of four important diseases (some of them aren’t even directly related to the gut).
Defying the Disease
A magnanimous review of diseases published in the journal Lancet shows that compared to people who consumed less of fiber those who ate more fiber-rich foods were at a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Their risk of early death from any of these diseases decreased by as much as 15% to 30%. For every 8 grams of fiber consumed the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colon cancer dropped by 5-27%.
Fruits, veggies and whole grains are rich in fiber providing the individual with great nutrition addition. Those individuals who consumed between 25 and 29 grams of fiber from foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains every day were the ones who showed the strongest reduction in risk of the range of diseases. The study results showed that greater the consumption, lower the risk. So, there is no harm in consuming more than 29 grams of fiber but if this nutrient is the latest addition to your food list then take care to add it slowly and also by drinking plentiful of water along with the increased fiber intake. These results are a thorough investigation of 243 studies many of which included specifics of what the participants ate, their health outcomes, some studies insisted on getting the participants’ health measurements such as weight, blood pressure and sugar, cholesterol and inflammation and some studies probed on each of the food groups consumed by the participants.
Know the Number!
Not many are even aware of the recommended fiber levels necessary for men and women. Maybe that’s the reason for the average consumption levels to be as low as 15 grams when the recommended levels for men include 38 grams/day and for women its 25 grams/day. Fiber’s effect on different diseases has been proved with different studies.
Heart disease: Fiber-rich foods require a longer time to chew and digest. This increases satiety rapidly thereby lowering the risk of obesity. Obesity is a great risk factor for heart disease. Preventing obesity not only benefits the heart but also reduces the risk of plentiful other diseases which are mentioned at www.firsteatright.com.
Cancer: Though studies have failed to show an increased effect of fiber on reduced risk of colon cancer there are Harvard study results that show that increased intake of fiber decreases risk of breast cancer.
Type 2 diabetes: Diets that are low in fiber and rich in quantity can satisfy hunger, but they do increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes due to the sudden rise in blood sugar levels. Whereas, a diet rich in high-fiber foods decreased the risk of diabetes greatly. Soluble fiber (one that dissolves in water) can help lower glucose levels and cholesterol levels. Nuts, beans, lentils, apples, oatmeal and blueberries are good sources of soluble fiber.
To add more fiber to your diet, eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, nuts and whole grains. Insoluble fiber (one that doesn’t dissolve in water) helps in proper bowel movements and prevents constipation. Whole wheat bread, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots and cucumbers are excellent sources of insoluble fiber. Adding fiber to your diet is not as easy as told but one needs to do a few calculations here and there to reach desired targets. That’s because even though a banana is said to be rich in fiber after removing natural sugars and water, we are left with only 3 g of fiber, an apple with its skin has only 4 g of fiber, a cup of cooked lentils has only 4 g of fiber and a thick slice of brown bread has around 2 g of fiber. Though a tough affair, the latest study suggests that shifting people from a low-fiber diet (less than 15 g) to a high fiber one (25-29g) has the potential to prevent 13 deaths and six cases of heart disease.
Make a few changes, for instance, cook potatoes with their skin intact, swap white bread and pasta for wheat-wheat ones, add lentils in curries and salads, eat high-fiber breakfast cereals, munch on nuts for snacks (but in limited quantities) and eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables daily.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.