An Apple a Day, Does Keep the Doctor Away
Increasing the fiber in your diet has been shown to: reduce your
cholesterol, reduce your hunger, lower your fat absorption, reduce surges in insulin levels, help with weight loss, lower the risk of colon cancer, and lower your risk of heart disease. WOW! Sounds like a miracle cure - where can I get this stuff? The answer: At your grocery store.
Old Ben Franklin, citing in Poor Richard's Almanac 250 years ago stated "An
apple a day keeps the doctor away." Well he was right. Not only because the
apple contains vitamins and minerals, but also because it is a major source
of fiber. Maybe three apples a day keeps three doctors away!
What is fiber? Well, it is basically indigestible complex carbo-hydrates
that come from plant foods. What your Grandma called "roughage" is called
fiber by scientists. When you look at some food labels, fiber is often
listed under carbohydrates - but it is not a single food or substance and by
itself has no calories because your body cannot absorb it.
There are actually two types of fiber and they have different health
benefits. The two types are "water soluble" and "water insoluble". Soluble
fibers include the skins of fruits such as apples, oranges (not the orange
peel, but the white material after you peel it), pears, peaches and grapes;
the skins of vegetables, seeds; oat bran, dried beans, oatmeal, barley, rye,
and prunes. Insoluble fibers include the meat of fruits and vegetables,
dried beans, wheat bran, seeds, popcorn, brown rice, and whole grain
products such as breads, cereals, and pasta.
Bran of course does bulk up the diet and results in larger, softer stools.
But it actually does more than prevent constipation - there are clear data
showing that fiber also reduces the risk of colon cancers. The "stickiest"
kinds of fiber are the gums and pectins (soluble fiber) and they help keep
cholesterol under control by removing bile acids that digest fat. Bile
acids, which promote better digestion, unfortunately also contribute much to
the "reabsorption" from the bowel wall of our bodies own "home-made"
cholesterol. Every gram of fiber intake per day reduces your total blood
cholesterol by approximately one point. The same class of fibers may help
regulate blood sugar as well. This latter feat is accomplished by coating
the bowel's lining and delaying stomach emptying. As a result, fiber can
slow sugar absorption after a meal and may reduce the amount of insulin
needed to keep blood sugar at the right levels. Reducing the over-production
of insulin is a major factor in reducing obesity.
Insulin "resistance" (abnormally high insulin levels) is common in very
obese patients and may be a factor in "obesity begets obesity". Fiber is
also a weight watchers dream since fibers called cellulose and
hemicelluloses take up space in the stomach, making us feel full; thus
lowering total caloric intake at meal time. Popular agents such as Metamucil
are actually an important part of many weight reduction diets as they slow
down absorption of sugars taken in as part of most meals - promoting further
The average American gets only 14 grams of fiber per day in their diet. Most
scientists agree that the optimal amount is closer to 35 grams per day.
Increasing the consumption of "complex" carbo-hydrates is the best way to
increase fiber intake. Fiber supplements are also available at the grocery.
However, be aware that a large increase in your fiber intake over a short
period of time may result in bloating, diarrhea, gas and general discomfort.
It is important then to increase the fiber amount in your diet gradually
over a period of time (up to three weeks) to allow your "gut" to acclimated
and avoid abdominal side-effects.
Disclaimer: If you are under 18, pregnant, nursing or have health problems, consult your physician before starting any weight loss plan. The information here is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your physician before beginning any course of treatment.
Dr. John Rumberger is the Author of The WAY Diet, The complete lifestyle plan to live longer, reduce stress, and lose weight the healthy way. To purchase The Way Diet simply go to www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?path=ASIN/0974993387&link_code=as2&camp=1789&tag=icobweb-20&creative=9325">http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?path=ASIN/0974993387
&link_code=as2&camp=1789&tag=icobweb-20&creative=9325 or go to Empty Canoe Publishing www.emptycanoe.com">http://www.emptycanoe.com and order your copy of The Way.