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November 18, 2017  |  Login
Gotta Get Your Fiber
By James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.
 

One key to a healthful diet is making sure that you get enough fiber on a daily basis. Plant foods are the only source of fiber. There are two types of fiber. Soluble fiber means that the fiber dissolves in water. An example would be oat bran or dried beans and peas. This type of fiber helps to slow the absorption of glucose from the intestines into the bloodstream and thus improves the blood sugar balance. It also helps to lower cholesterol. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, and it helps to bind water and bulk up the stools to allow for efficient bowel movements. It also helps to bind excess fats and toxins in the digestive tract, to be excreted out with the stools. Populations that consume a lot of fiber have less risk of developing colon and other cancers. Fiber also provides a sense of fullness, without containing empty calories. It is recommended you get at least 25 grams of total fiber a day.

Constipation, straining at a bowel movement, abdominal pain, or hard stools can all be signs that you are not getting enough fiber. People with sensitive digestive systems (who are prone to bloating, gas, cramps, etc.) often do better by starting with steamed or cooked vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. Over time, they can convert to larger quantities of raw vegetables. Also, enzyme supplements are helpful for people who have trouble digesting raw vegetables. By including five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day in your diet, you will obtain enough fiber. Essentially, try to get in a good source(s) of fiber with every meal.

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