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Remember when Grandma always said “Eat your roughage” because it was healthy for us. She was right. Do you know why fiber is important for optimum health?

Fiber is a plant carbohydrate that passes through our digestive system without breaking down into nutrients. There are two types of fiber: Soluble and Insoluble. Soluble fiber is made-up of poysaccharides that exert a beneficial effect on lowering cholesterol and blood sugar. Soluble fiber is found in beans, fruits, legumes, root vegetables, prunes etc.

Insoluble fiber keeps the colon clean by exerting a sweeping effect, shortening the transit time through the intestinal tract, increasing bulk and has a beneficial laxative effect. Insoluble fiber can be found in wheat bran, whole grains, nuts, veggies, flaxseed, lignans, green beans etc. Because fiber has few or no calories, it helps to reduce the caloric density of our diets, this creates a sense of fullness which suppresses our appetites, thus, reducing our calories.

Eating fiber has many health benefits. Getting enough fiber can help lower your risk of developing heart disease, cancer, constipation, diverticulitis, diabetes, gallstones and kidney stones. Fiber also reduces appetite, helps promote weight loss, lowers serum cholesterol, lowers blood sugar, reduces risk of Metabolic Syndrome, and helps promote bowel regularity. By promoting bowel regularity with fiber, the passage of food is much faster, thereby prevent harmful substances from being absorbed.

Despite fiber’s ability to help detox our bodies, we must be mindful of what we put into our bodies as fiber is only an important component of good health. Eliminate toxins such as processed foods, sugar, trans fats, white flour and white flour products, excess sodium, pesticide laden fruits and vegetables, meats laden with hormones, antibiotics, as well as preservatives and caffeine.

Replace these toxic foods with wholesome health promoting foods such as high-fiber foods, whole grains, oat bran, beans, legumes, fruits, berries, veggies and beneficial fats such as nuts, avocados, and fatty fish. Minimize lean meats. Remember to drink a minimum of eight 8 oz. glasses of water each day. The five most fiber-rich plant foods are: Legumes – including beans (15-19 grams per cup), Wheat Bran (17 grams per cup), Prunes (12 grams), Asian Pears (10 grams each) and Quinoa grain (9 grams).

It is vital to consume a minimum of 25 – 30 grams of fiber each day – or 10 grams of fiber per meal. Remember to keep nutritious, high-fiber snacks handy for between meal snacking. Choose whole grain pretzels, low-fat air-popped popcorn or raw nuts. You can also choose a fiber supplement if you are having trouble consuming the recommended amount. Ensure that the fiber supplement contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. Boosting your dietary fiber is easy once you acquire a mindfulness about the benefits of fiber and by making fiber a part of every meal.

By choosing to add high-fiber foods to your diet, you are pro-actively on your way to preventing many chronic diseases and creating long-term optimum health.

To your good health!

Lori L. Shemek, PhD, CNC, CLC

Dr. Lori Shemek is Founder and CEO of DLS HealthWorks where she actively helps her clients create successful weight loss and optimum health – at every level of health.  She is a Health Expert, Weight Loss Specialist, Speaker, Author.  Dr. Shemek is an Health Expert for the #1 ABC Show “Good Morning Texas!”

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