Susan Silberstein & Marilyn Joyce (Health and Nutrition Educator & Heath Counselor) gives expert video advice on: Why is fiber important for my health?; Which foods have the most fiber? and more...
What is "fiber"?
Fiber is the non-nutritive part of food. It's found fresh fruits and vegetables and beans and legumes and whole grains. Fiber is important for many reasons. First of all it acts like an intestinal broom, kind of sweeping out our digestive tract, and our eliminatory tract; so that we can eliminate a number of offending chemicals and toxins. So fiber can bind up and escort out circulating hormones and carcinogens that promote cancer. Also can help clean out our arteries and protect us from cardiovascular disease and it helps bind up our sugar levels, so we protect also against diabetes.
Why is fiber important for my health?
Fibre is essential in the diet. We need 5 grams of fibre every day, and most of us are getting between five and ten grams of fibre, if we're lucky. We run out and buy cereal that supposedly has a lot of grams of fibre; maybe three grams of fibre per serving. That's nothing. Eat oatmeal and get real fibre. That's basically what I teach my clients. Eat whole fruits and vegetables; they're loaded with fibre. Why is fibre important? It's like the broom or the sweeper of all of the bad stuff that we want to get out of our body. It's like a detoxer in itself, but it basically cleans out all of the low density lipoproteins, those not-so-healthy cholesterol molecules that we're getting into our body or that we're developing in our body from the foods that we're eating. Fibre also helps to increase the high density lipoproteins which are beneficial for keeping your body healthy and preventing heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses. So, fibre is critical. It is one of the least ingested items in our diet today, and it's one of the most critical.
How does fiber aid my digestion?
Well basically fiber multiplies with water intake or liquid intake, to seven times its size, so that it then can do the job of moving cholesterol through your system and out, it moves nutrients through your system. Basically fiber is that ingredient that moves things. It's necessary for the movement of everything in our body, through our body and of course it's a great cleanser of the colon. That's where it does the bulk of it's work, of getting rid of all the cholesterol molecules. You know, so that they are removed in your faeces, so they are removed, they are broken down the way through the body. It is the fiber that does that job. But it needs liquid to do that. Many times people will eat high fiber foods . If you are eating fruits and vegetables not concerned, because they have a lot of water inherently in them .But if you are eating whole grains or legumes and you are not getting enough liquid, you could actually create constipation versus you know what you want, which is the cleaning out of the system; you must get enough liquid in your diet
Which foods have the most fiber?
Unfortunately, it's not all those packaged, processed foods that claim that they all kinds of fiber that are the best sources. It's beans, peas, split peas, what we call the legume group. The healthiest cultures in the world all eat at least 1 legume. In our culture we're lucky if anybody ever eats any unless they're from the deep South, perhaps and have black-eyed peas once or twice a year for a special occasion. We should be eating legumes at least 4-5 times a week. The other foods that are very high in fiber are fruits vegetables, and whole grains in general. All of the whole grains. I'm not talking about rice crispies, or corn flakes, where box has more fiber than they do. I'm talking about real whole grains - wheatberries, quinoa, millet, buckwheat. They taste so scrumptious when you cook them up. You can have them for breakfast as a cereal, you can have them in the evening with your meal. They are whole grains. Every healthy culture eats a whole grain 7 times a day. We avoid that out of fear of carbohydrates and yet those are great sources of fiber.