Sunday, October 1, 2017
Health and Wellness: Fiber
Blog 3.1: Fiber
On the previous blog 3.0, we listed some of the beneficial effects of a plant based diet. On today’s blog we will focus on the benefits of fiber. Recall animal foods contain NO dietary fiber. Fiber can essentially be thought of as nondigestible to minimally digestible carbohydrates. As a result, fiber adds essentially no calories to your meal.
Fiber is extremely important for colon health. Fiber adds bulk to our stool which results in shorter transit time thereby preventing constipation. The reduced transit time means the carcinogens in our diet and eventually stool are eliminated sooner before they can harm the lining of cells in the colon. Furthermore, fiber promotes colonization and growth of healthy bacteria in our colon. These healthy bacteria in turn produce compounds such as butyrate which have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, reducing the risk of colon cancer and ulcerative colitis(inflammatory bowel disease). http://nutrition.ucdavis.edu/content/infosheets/fact-consumer-fiber.pdf
Chronic constipation can lead to diverticulosis(creation of outpouchings of the wall of the colon) and ultimately diverticulitis(inflammation and/or infection of these outpouchings). Some of the complications of diverticulitis include intestinal bleeding, scarring of the colon, and formation of abscesses.
Fiber in food results in slower digestion of food resulting in better blood sugar control. Also, fiber gives a feeling of satiety preventing us from overeating and thereby leads to better weight management. Both of these factors together and independently, reduce the risk of developing Type II Diabetes.
Fiber helps dispose of excess fat and cholesterol from the colon. Fiber is thought to bind
LDL particles(bad cholesterol) in our gut before they are absorbed into our bloodstream. Fiber has also been shown to reduce blood pressure. Above are just some of the potential mechanisms by which fiber can reduce our risk for heart disease. http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/fiber-heart#2
Fiber can also bind excess hormones such as estrogens in our digestive tract and eliminate them from our body. This may be one way that fiber reduces the risk of breast cancer.
How much fiber do you need?
USDA recommends total dietary fiber intake should be 25-30g/day from food, not fiber supplements. Currently, dietary fiber intake among adults in the USA averages about 15 g/day. Most plant based doctors, however, recommend consumption of at least 40 g/day of fiber. Eating whole grains, lentils, beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits, berries, and seeds will provide you with ample amount of this crucial carbohydrate.
So, go ahead and enjoy the carbohydrates that are high in fiber - they are good for you!
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