Tag Archives: fiber

9 Ways to Get the Health Benefits of Fiber

bread-1426350-mThe average American is not eating enough fiber. In fact, most of us get less than half of the recommended allowance of approximately 25 to 35 grams of fiber we need every day.

What is fiber? Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate found in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables and grain products. Your body cannot digest fiber, and it passes through your body largely intact.

Why are most of us lacking in fiber? We eat far too many highly processed foods. The refining process takes out the natural fiber found in plants. We also consume a large amount of animal products, which all contain zero fiber.

These foods make up a large part of our diets and are poor sources of fiber:

  • Refined grains – commonly in most bread, pizza dough, crackers, dry cereal and pasta
  • Sugars – found in soda, baked goods, candy and other processed goods
  • Animal products – includes meat, chicken, fish, milk, cheese and butter
  • Oils – in the form of salad dressings and fried foods

Why do we need fiber? The numerous benefits of fiber include its ability to stabilize blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, decrease the risk of colon cancer, prevent constipation and support a healthy body weight. In addition, foods high in fiber are often high in mineral and vitamin content. Fiber may also prevent or control diabetes.

Here are 9 ways you can add more fiber to your daily diet:

Start your day with whole grains
Look for whole-grain cereal or oatmeal with 3 or more grams of fiber per serving. You can also add fruit to your breakfast to get even more fiber.

Fresh fruit
Any type of fresh fruit is a healthy snack. But when it comes to getting in your daily fiber, not all fruit is created equal. For high fiber fruits, try pears, raspberries, blackberries, bananas and blueberries. Apples with the skin on also provide high fiber.

Dried fruit
Most dried fruits are loaded with fiber. Try having a handful of dried figs, prunes, dates, raisins or apricots as a snack. You can also chop them up and add to cereal or even as salad toppings.

Vegetables can be a great source of fiber, too. High-fiber veggies include spinach, corn, broccoli, potatoes and artichoke hearts. All vegetables have some fiber. Too boost your daily fiber, add vegetables to sandwiches, pastas, omelets and soups. You can also add vegetables to salads or other meals.

Nuts and seeds
You may be afraid to eat nuts and seeds because they can be high in calories and fat. Yet, nuts and seeds are a great source of fiber and other nutrients. Sunflowers seeds and almonds are especially high in fiber. You can add nuts and seeds to salads or a cup of yogurt. You can enjoy a handful of mixed nuts for an afternoon snack.

Beans are high in fiber, full of protein and low in fat. Try eating beans at least twice a week to boost your fiber. You can use beans in soups, stews, rice and pasta dishes, salads and casseroles.

Peas and legumes
Lentils and peas are related to beans and are high in dietary fiber and protein while also being low in fat. Lentils are great for soups and stews. Cooked chickpeas can be added to salads or made into hummus.

Whole-grain bread and crackers
Whole grains include the entire grain and give you all the nutrients of the grain. If you’re eating a sandwich, choose whole grain bread. Try dipping whole-grain crackers in a healthy spread or eating them with your favorite salad.

Drink water!
Water and fiber work as a team in your body. Water is absorbed by fiber and helps waste products move more freely through the digestive track.

Also be cautious about adding fiber too quickly. Introduce fiber to your diet gradually so your body can adjust to the increased intake over time. Exercise can also encourage the movement of fiber through your digestive system.

Eating a diet high in fiber combined with other healthy foods can help improve your overall health and well-being. So, add more fiber to your diet today!

11 Foods To Help You Live Longer

senior-with-redwine-943080-mI am obsessed with living longer. I want to live to be over 100 years old. However, I also want to be a healthy centenarian.

I have been reading that more and more research shows what we eat can influence how long we live. What works for weight loss can also help slow the aging process. That’s because what you’re eating affects your waistline, the condition of your heart and even how long you live.

So, take a good look at your pantry and see if you’re eating for longevity. Here are 11 foods that science proves will help you live longer:

Green tea
The world’s second most popular beverage can reduce the risk of death by up to 26% if you consume several cups a day. In addition, it has the added benefits of reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.

A study found that people who snack on a handful of nuts every day live longer than those who didn’t. Nuts are packed with cholesterol-free protein and other nutrients. Almonds have vitamin E, which protects the body from cell damage and boosts the immune system. Pecans have antioxidants and walnuts are good for your cholesterol.

Fish has been called brain food because it has fatty acids, DHA and EPA – all are important to brain and nervous system development. The Omega-3 fats found in seafood or fatty fish can lower cholesterol and triglycerides.

Berries are a great source of antioxidants. Blueberries, strawberries and acai berries are a source of polyphenols, a powerful compound that may help combat cancers and degenerative diseases of the brain. Cranberries may also help you live longer.

Fiber may help lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol, prevent constipation and help digestion. Fiber also fills you up so that you can eat less. Beans are fiber-rich and can be eaten three or four times a week. Fruits and vegetables can also add fiber to your diet.

Veggies contain phytonutrients and loads of vitamins and minerals that may protect you from diseases. Dark, leafy greens have vitamin K that builds strong bones. Sweet potatoes and carrots contain vitamin A – good for your eyes, healthy skin and protects against infection. Tomatoes or tomato products may help prevent cancer.

Protein provides essential building blocks for daily repair of your cells. It’s critical to your health and vitality, especially as you get older. You can add protein to your diet with lean meat, fish, seafood, beans, low-fat dairy and eggs.

Healthy fats
You’ve probably heard about the Mediterranean diet. But what you may not know is the heart-healthy diet has been shown to increase the lifespan of elderly people by about 20 percent. The diet encourages eating healthy fats, like olive oil, as well as vegetables and whole grains.

Whole grains
Eating whole grains can reduce your risk of certain cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Choose whole-grain breads and pastas, as well as brown or wild rice, instead of white options. Whole grains are less processed and retain more of the nutritional value. Whole grains also add fiber.

Drinking vitamin D-fortified beverages like milk can help increase your calcium absorption. That’s important for bone health. Vitamin D also reduces the risk of colon, breast and prostate cancers. Eating yogurt can also give you the benefits of dairy and aid in digestion.

Red wine
Just a half a glass of wine a day can help you live longer. Research found that light wine drinkers lived up to five years longer than those who did not drink wine at all. Red wine is rich in antioxidants that help protect against heart disease.

Eat these super-foods to help increase your lifespan and improve your quality of life. By incorporating a balanced diet into your daily life, you can fight off some of today’s most life-threatening diseases and live longer!

Is Your Diet Missing 7 Essential Nutrients?

I have never had foot and leg cramps until the last six months or so. I did some research to see what might be causing my muscle cramps. I discovered that it could be caused by a vitamin and mineral deficiency, in particular a lack of potassium and vitamin D.

I started to wonder if there are other vitamins and minerals that were vital to proper nutrition and a healthier mind and body. The USDA says that American adults don’t get enough of many essential nutrients.

Here are 7 important nutrients that may be missing from your diet:

Like many Americans, I don’t drink milk on a regular basis. I do eat a bowl of cereal most mornings and like to grab a yogurt cup for a snack. Yet, I am sure that I’m probably not getting enough calcium in my diet. Women 19 to 50 years old should get 1,000 milligrams a day (as should men), and that number increases for both men and women as they age.

Why you need it: Calcium is essential for healthy bones, protects your heart and arteries, and may lower the risk of breast cancer.

Where to find it: Milk, yogurt, calcium-fortified orange juice, fortified cereals and low-fat cheeses.

There are two types of vitamin A: retinol and carotenoids, like beta-carotene. Adult women need 700 milligrams a day while men need 900 milligrams.

Why you need it: Vitamin A is key for maintaining healthy eyesight and a strong immune system. It also plays a role in many other physiological functions, such as tissue growth.

Where to find it: Dark green and bright colored vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, pumpkins, winter squash, spinach, collard greens and romaine lettuce.

While vitamin C may not ward off colds as once believed, it’s still an essential part of a well-balanced diet. Women need 75 milligrams while men need 90 milligrams a day.

Why you need it: Vitamin C is essential to maintaining a strong immune system. It may help lower the risk of cancer and is required for healing wounds.

Where to find it: Many fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamin C, including citrus fruit, guava, cantaloupe, peaches, kiwi, red peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale.

Brought to us by sunshine, vitamin D is produced by the skin when you’re exposed to sunlight. Since many of us work in offices, we may not get enough sun exposure to make our vitamin D allowance. Optimal levels of vitamin D are up for debate. It’s recommended that adults get 600 international units of vitamin D a day.

Why you need it: Vitamin D is important in the development of healthy bones, muscles and nerve fibers as well as a strong immune system.

Where to find it: A few foods naturally contain this vitamin, including fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, as well as tuna. It can also be found in mushrooms, liver, cheese and egg yolks. Some brands of cereal, milk and orange juice are fortified with vitamin D.

You may know that too much sodium or salt in your diet can raise your blood pressure. You might not realize that too little potassium can contribute to high blood pressure. Adults should shoot for 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day.

Why you need it: A shortage of potassium can increase your blood pressure, as well as increase your risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis.

Where to find it: Potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, beans, peas, lentils, yogurt, bananas, fish, orange juice and avocados.

Magnesium is required for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. If you have stomach problems as you get older and or if you drink alcohol, you’re at risk for low magnesium levels. Women between the ages of 19 and 30 should get 310 milligrams and after 31 should get 320 milligrams a day. Men who are 19 to 30 should have 400 milligrams and then 420 milligrams after 31.

Why you need it: Low magnesium levels have been linked to osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, muscle cramps and heart disease.

Where to find it: Spinach, beans, peas, lentils, oatmeal, whole grains and nuts.

We know that fiber is important to our diets. Research has shown that it helps regulate our digestive system. A healthy diet should contain 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories.

Why do you need it: New findings show that fiber helps protect you from heart disease, type 2 diabetes and may help you maintain a healthy weight.

Where to find it: Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, cooked dry beans, peas and nuts.

A balanced diet that includes a variety of healthy foods can help you get your daily allowance of many vital nutrients. So, eat your fruits and vegetables, lean protein, good fats and plenty of fiber for better health!