sábado, 4 de mayo de 2013

Fiber effects on health

Fiber is not just important to prevent constipation, it has many other benefits for your health such as:
  • Reduces cholesterol levels, specially the beta glucans from oats and barley, and the pectins in apples, berries, and citrus fruits. This protect against  chronic diseases such as heart disease and stroke.
  • Protects against certain cancers such as colorectal cancer. Fiber’s effect on increasing bulk and decreasing transit time helps to “sweep” cancer-causing substances out of the large intestines. Fiber may also protect against breast cancer by decreasing blood levels of estrogen.
  • Reduces the risk of type II diabetes and help to manage the disease by stabilizing blood sugar as it slows down the rate of glucose absortion. It also decreases insulin concentration and requirements.
  • Promotes a healthy digestion.
  • Promotes proper bowel function: lowers the pressure in the colon resulting in less risk of diverticular disease (pockets that form in the colon and are prevalent in older adults) and hemorrhoids.
  • Provides bulk by absorbing fluid. It is important to consume enough fluids daily (1.5 - 2.0 litres) to prevent constipation.
  • Helps you reach your weight management goals by promoting satiationMeals rich in fiber are processed more slowly by the body, provide more volume, and tend to produce a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. In addition, high fiber foods require more chewing and may take longer to eat, thus potentially limiting the quantity you are going to eat.
  • Additionally, whole grains have more vitamins (vitamins B and E), minerals (iron, zinc and magnesium), and phytochemicals (beneficial plant substances) than refined grains.
Yet, intake of fiber is consistently below recommended amounts (about half the amount of fiber recommended).

Note that these health positive effects have not been proven from supplemental sources of fiber. So you can't eat a crappy diet and then turn around and eat a lot of  fiber supplements, and think that you are going to get the same benefits. You have to focus on the foods. Eat more whole wheat, bran, fresh or dried fruit, vegetables and legumes.

In the next posts I'll write about how much fiber we should eat and I'll give you some practical tips to increase the fiber in your diet.

And please don't be shy and take advantage of the comments to ask me any question about nutrition or food ;)

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