In particular, legumes, which include beans, alfalfa, clover, peas, lentils, carob, soy and peanuts, are low glycemic foods. That's a good thing, especially for those who must deal daily with blood sugar issues. Diabetics will do themselves a favor by making legumes a prominent part of their daily meal plan. These fibrous pods digest slowly and tend to stabilize blood sugar. In fact, those with type 2 diabetes did even better than those who got their fiber primarily from whole grains.
Fiber and diverticulitis
Diverticulitis is an inflammation of the intestine, which is painful and age-related. One-third of people over 45 will deal with this disease. Studies show that eating enough dietary fiber will lower your risk by 40 percent.
Fiber and constipation
Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal complaint in the country, especially for the elderly. The gastrointestinal tract responds to the consumption of dietary fiber -- an easy fix for a big problem.
Then there are those who are convinced fiber is important and necessary but who try to shortcut the whole issue by taking a fiber supplement. That's OK, not a horrible trade out if you are doing it consistently and drinking the required amount of water, but you really can do better than that. Experts agree you will reap more benefits if you get your fiber (or most of it) from real food rather than a supplement. It's cheaper and better for you.
Actually, there is a bigger problem lurking behind all this fiber talk. It is with those who regularly use laxatives and who live on processed food. If a person is not eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans, they are probably relying on laxatives too often. If this is the case, the bowel becomes lazy and is unable to do its job, which leads to dependence on unnatural substances. Making sure you eat fiber each day provides you with the healthiest diet possible.
And let's not gloss over the satiety benefit. If fiber is filling, you will likely eat fewer calories, which can help manage your weight. That's big!
So how do we do it? First start thinking of fiber as the valuable substance it is -- one that fights disease and provides your body with special nutritional benefits.
- Start your day in a fruitful way. Add berries and ground flax seed to yogurt.
- Add vegetables to a whole-wheat wrap with grilled chicken.
- Wash instead of peel your apple.
- Avoid food that is packaged or in a box. Odds are its fiberless.
- Opt for fruit and forget the juice -- lower in calories and full of fiber.
- Visit your farmer's market and buy seasonal vegetables. Try something new.
- Snack on raw vegetables and nuts rather than chips.
- Don't forget about beans -- a great-tasting, inexpensive fiber source.
- Drink plenty of water. Increase your water intake as you increase your fiber.
- Commit to being fiber-fortified. Fill up with fiber and it will leave you feeling fabulous!
Cindy Boggs, corporate fitness presenter, author and Activate America director, has been an ACE-certified coordinator/instructor since 1989. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to YMCA of Kanawha Valley, 100 YMCA Drive, Charleston, WV 25311, or e-mail cindys...@aol.com. Look for Cindy's award-winning fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World" on her Web site, www.cindysays.com, or contact her at 304-342-3533.