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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What Your Doctor Means When She Says “You Need More Fiber”

Staying fit or losing weight doesn’t just mean hitting the gym harder than the rest. It means getting or remaining healthy. And lately many people seems to have forgotten our digestive tract’s best friend fiber. It seem like the older you get is when are more inclined to care about your fiber intake. Instead of getting it natural, you see grandparents and older folk guzzling down good ole Metamucil or Benefiber.  As lifters and active gym goers, you should think about your fiber intake. Fiber and staying regular is just another piece of the pie of a fit and healthy lifestyle.

Doctor smiling as she talks about your bowel movements | www.theFittestBlogger.com

A little history on Dietary Fiber

Obviously fiber has been around for an unimaginable amount of time. But in the 1940s British physicians Dr. Denis Burkitt and Dr. Towel published their opinions on why native Africans had lower rates of disease compared to the western countries.

While conducting medical activities in Africa, Burkitt and Trowel determined that diseases from high blood pressure (cardiovascular diseases), obesity and diabetes (metabolic disorders), intestinal problems (constipation, diverticulitis, gallstones, appendicitis, hemorrhoids, polyps, and colon cancer), varicose veins and blood clots were uncommon in Africa compared to people living in developed countries. They believed this was the result of the high intake of fiber. 

Hence birthing the “Fiber Hypothesis” which stated that Fiber can help prevent certain diseases.

Burkitt also made the discovery that fiber has a beneficial impact on bowel movements and how that relates to certain diseases.

Fast-forward to Current Day

Fiber has become a staple item on the Supplement Facts nutrition label on food. So what exactly is fiber? 

What is fiber? There are 2 types:
Dietary fiber - Consists of non-digestible carbohydrates and lignin that are intrinsic and intact in plants. Come mainly from fruits and vegetables
Functional Fiber - Consists of isolate non-digestible carbohydrates that have beneficial physiological effects in humans. Isolated and extracted from p;ants and animal sources and can be added to food or drink (i.e. Metamucil).
Both types of fiber can be Soluble are Insoluble.

Soluble Fiber binds with water of fatty acids. It attract water and forms a gel, which slows down digestion. Delaying the emptying of your stomach which can leave you feeling full and eating less. Typically found in oats, peas, apples, carrots, etc.

Insoluble Fiber increases the movement of material through your digestive tract and increase your stool bulk. Pretty much the opposite effect of soluble as it speeds up the passage of food and waste through your digestive system. Typically found in whole wheat, wheat bran, seeds, broccoli, leafy vegetables, etc.

Yes I know, slightly confusing but essential knowledge you must know on your fitness journey.

Fiber for weight control

In a recent studied conducted by the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII) of 1700 overweight and obese people for a duration of just over 24 months found that the highest fiber intakes correlated with greatest weight loss.

There is data backing up the claims of fiber benefits. So why do so many people decide to skip on the recommended daily intakes? The answer eludes me.

As I mentioned before soluble fiber makes a gel like substance that cause food by-products to swell and move slower in the intestines. 

Causing you to not get hungry as often, simultaneously keeping your caloric and food intake down or lower than a diet without enough fiber.

Fiber for controlling diseases

Research shows that high fiber diets can help those with type II diabetes control their blood glucose levels. 
A study on obese and overweight men and women without diabetes showed a reduction in blood sugars and insulin with a high fiber diet.
Increasing fiber now can prevent long-term complications from diabetes.
In a 17 week clinical test, consumption of fiber was shown to decrease insulin requirements in people with type II diabetes.

Heart disease
A Harvard study of over 40,000 male health professional, researchers found that high total dietary fiber intake was linked to a 40% lower risk of coronary heart disease.

Another study of 31,000 California seventh-day Adventists found a 44% reduced risk of nonfatal coronary heart disease and 11% reduced risk of fatal coronary heart disease for those who ate whole wheat bread compared to those who ate white bread.

Burn all white bread that you currently own. Don’t even feed it to your pets.
Soluble fiber reduces the absorption of cholesterol in your intestines by binding with bile (which contains cholesterol) and dietary cholesterol so that the body excretes it.
5-10 grams of fiber a day decreases LDL (BAD cholesterol) cholesterol by 5%.

Bowel disorders
Studies in England showed that people living under primitive conditions, on diets high in insoluble fibers, passed from 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 times as much feces as sailors in the Royal navy and were free of many of the diseases studied.

IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common disease that effects the large intestine. It causes cramping, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Adding dietary fiber I to your diet can help improve bowel function and decrease symptom severity. But with IBS, things get tricky in that it may cause an increase in bloating and gas production.

Listen up ladies and gents, if you get constipated often, then there is a chance that you may be lacking essential fiber in your diet. This is a simple fix. Properly adding fiber rich food into your body will have you regular once again.
Instead of using laxatives, one should eat foods high in both soluble and insoluble fibers and drink plenty of water.

Daily Recommendations of fiber intake

The average American eats 15 grams of fiber a day. But the Institute of Medicine recommends:
Men - 38 grams a day
Women - 25 grams a day
Getting your fiber to recommend levels should not be a chore, it should be a way of life. Here are some sources of fiber that should make things simple:

Sources of Fiber
Add seeds such flaxseeds or nuts to your salad.
Keep frozen blueberries, strawberries, prunes, and raspberries in your freezer to add to cereals and/or deserts.
Have cut up veggies as snacks readily available.
Have veggies with your meals whenever possible. Broccoli, okra, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, lettuce, sweet potatoes.
Eat fruit with or between meals.
Choose cereal with a minimum of 4 grams of fiber in each serving; eat as snack or meal.
Beans (Kidney beans contains the most total dietary fiber) and peas (black-eyed peas, chickpeas, lentils) go with everything; put in a salad, soup, etc.
Buy whole wheat products instead of white and processed flours(This should be something you do anyhow).

If you are already knowledgeable about fiber, then I hope this article didn’t bore you to sleep. Otherwise I hope you have learned the value of Fiber. And pass it along to someone less knowledgeable than yourself.

And to those of you who tend to get a little gassy, be sure to take a Beano or Gas X. Happy lifting! #theFittest.

Did I miss anything? Do you agree or disagree with the benefits of fiber? Comment below. Otherwise, like and share.

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