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The importance of fiber in your diet and its preventive health
benefits
 
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What are the sources of natural fiber
 

Fiber can be found in many foods: multigrain pancakes, bran muffins, whole grain bread, high-fiber cereal, kidney beans, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Whole wheat bread is an excellent source of high fiber. For your cooking and baking needs, there are whole wheat and other whole grain flours available in health food markets and grocery stores. You can also find many beans and nuts there as well. The fiber content is listed on the bins. High-fiber capsules and powders (such as Metamucil) are also sold as supplements in health stores and grocery stores.

Many packaged foods now list the amount of fiber in the product so you can have the recommended amount of fibre in your diet. Since dietary needs vary from person to person, there are charts available for determining the amount of fiber-rich foods you need for healthy eating. Many grocery stores list the fibre content of the vegetables and fruit they sell. Your doctor can advise you on how much fiber you need in your diet. Health magazines list good sources of fiber-rich foods and dietary needs based on your weight and age. They also give you high-fiber recipes for your dietary needs. Dieticians and nutritionists can also provide guidelines for including fiber in your diet, answer any diet questions you may have, and provide useful food facts. They can give you a diet analysis of your present diet and make recommendations for changing it to a low fat, low cholesterol, fiber-rich diet.

 
Why Fiber is important in your diet and for your health?
 
High-fiber foods contribute greatly to healthy eating. Fiber-rich and low fat foods are an important part of your diet. Fiber aids your digestive system and may help reduce cholesterol. Nutritional guidelines are important to eating well and balancing your calories. Researchers believe that we should be eating at least 25 grams of fiber per day, instead of the 12 grams most people are eating.
 
A fiber-rich diet can benefit your whole body:
 
 Heart While the healthy fats in nuts seem to be the ingredient that prevents heart disease, the fiber in nuts is believed to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The calories from “good” fats are not as important as the benefits gained from the fiber and fat content in nuts. Research published in the September 1999 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that fiber was a shield against heart disease. In fact, it was shown that women who ate at least 25 grams of
fiber per day were 40% less likely to have a heart attack than the women who ate less than 9 grams of fiber a day. This was also true of the men in the studies. They could cut their risk of having a heart attack by 50% by eating a high fiber diet.

No one is quite sure how fiber in the diet works towards having a healthy heart, but scientists suspect that the body takes more cholesterol out of the blood with a fiber-rich diet. This action prevents cholesterol from forming plaques in the arteries, which causes heart disease.

Dietary fiber is also believed to block the body from absorbing the fat and cholesterol found in food. The April 1997 of the Journal of Nutrition stated that researchers found that the more fiber the study participants ate, the more fat ended up in their stools. In other words, the fat was eliminated from the body without being absorbed.

 Weight loss and weight management High-fiber diets not only promote healthy eating, but they also prevent the absorption of fat. Fiber in your diet helps you cut calories. When you eat whole grain food, your hunger is satisfied faster. When you fill up on high fiber foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, you are less likely to have room for high-fat, low-fiber foods with high calorie count. Your dietary needs are satisfied, while you are cutting calories. When you eat fewer calories by including fiber in your diet, you can lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

 Diabetes Dietary needs of diabetics differ from those of people without diabetes. Of course, we all know that we should avoid foods containing a lot of sugar, and carbohydrates that are not complex. For diabetics, this is critical to the control of their disease. For the rest of us, it may prevent us from developing diabetes. Including fiber in your diet may actually protect against diabetes. Diabetics are encouraged to eat foods that are fiber-rich which contain important vitamins and minerals. In studies, it was shown that people with type 2 diabetes may improve their blood sugar and cholesterol levels by eating a high fibre diet. In the February 12, 1997 journal of the American Medical Association, study results showed that study participants who consumed large amounts of fiber were significantly less likely to get diabetes than those who consumed the least amount of fiber.

 Cancer It was widely thought that fiber-rich diets would prevent colon cancer. Researchers believed that fiber strands formed a mesh network that grabbed on to cancer-causing substances and flushed them out of the intestines. Physicians did not dispute the claims. Then one study showed that women who ate 26 grams of fiber a day were not less likely to develop colon cancer compared to the study participants who only ate 8.5 grams. When these results were published, in the January, 21, 1999 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, people questioned the benefit of fiber as a dietary need.

Then the May 3, 2003 issue of The Lancet published study results that showed that people who eat high-fiber foods are 25% less likely to develop colon cancer.

While the conflicting results confused the public regarding fiber’s cancer prevention potential, researchers and physicians advised continuing the fiber-rich diets which have been proven to prevent heart disease. More studies will have to be conducted on whether or not fiber can prevent cancer.

Including fiber in your diet is recommended by physicians, dieticians, and nutritionists. There have been proven health benefits and more research may discover more benefits as time goes by.
 
 
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