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The Facts on Fiber
If we all eat twice as much sugar as we should, we also eat
about half as much fiber as we need. The ADA (American
Dietetic Association) recommends we eat 20-35 grams of fiber
each day. But why is fiber necessary? And how can we get
more of it?
Continue reading the next aerobics article on eating healthy food
- What is fiber? Fiber is plant material that, rather than
being digested, moves through the intestinal tract. You can
find fiber in vegetables, grains and fruits.
What's it good for? Fiber keeps you regular, which is why
it's the main ingredient in natural laxatives. Fiber takes
action on the bowels and has also been shown to lower
cholesterol in the blood by binding with it in the digestive
system and passing it out of the body as waste. Fiber has
been shown to help prevent colon cancer, diseases of the
intestinal tract and heart disease. Another thing fiber
prevents is hunger: eating foods rich in fiber makes you
feel fuller, and prevents overeating.
- Can you get too much fiber? Yes indeed! But usually it's
from overdoing the laxatives or eating too much high-fiber
cereal. Eating too much fiber can cause bloating and give you
diarrhea, but on the bright side, it's tough enough to get a
lot of fiber that most people never get too much. Some eating
disordered folks have ridden the fiber train in an effort to
lose weight, which can interfere with your body absorbing
minerals it needs to stay healthy. But most people don't get
nearly the fiber they need to maximize their health.
- Does fiber break down if I cook my veggies mushy? Nope.
Fiber doesn't cook away like water does, so you can boil those
carrots all day if you want.
- What else should I do when I eat fiber? Drink lots of
water. Keep that fiber progressing through your intestines by
lubricating them with plenty of water, or you may wind up
- Isn't fiber just for old people? Those are the ones eating
fiber rich cereals in the TV ads. Actually everyone needs
fiber, and with today's school lunches, it's going to be a
challenge to make sure your kids get enough fiber in their
other meals. Try to brainwash your little darlings into loving
fresh fruits and veggies, and don't let them torture you with
guilt when you refuse to take them out for a McNasty Meal.
Parents need fiber too: it's easy to get sluggish if you're
living on coffee and breakfast bars: get yourself some fine
flaxseed based cereals and wake up your colon a couple of
times a week. Raisin Bran is one popular cereal whose basis is
practically pure fiber.
- Where can I find fiber? You can find fiber in all the
things you probably don't eat because they're "boring". Beans,
peas and lentils are fantastically rich in fiber; brown rice,
oats. barley and other whole grains have a lot of fiber, too.
But don't expect to get much fiber from white rice: the brown
husk that comes with the natural rice has been rubbed off, and
with it, much of the accompanying fiber. Fruits and veggies
have some fiber, but a serving of fruit will give you about
two grams of fiber, whereas a serving of kidney beans will
give you six times that much.
- I want more fiber! What should I do? Eat canned beans,
which are easy to heat and serve (and really delicious if you
bake them with molasses, onions and bacon). Skip the
ultra-sweet cereals and eat oatmeal, add bran cereal to your
yogurt. Eat real food: junk food usually has the fiber removed
to make way for sugar, starch and chemicals. Go for apples,
pears, nuts and broccoli. You won't find fiber in booze, ice
cream or most cookies: eat your veggies! And put some beans on
top of them.
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