If you are asked what you ate in your last meal what would you say? I asked some friends over lunch, here are the answers I got; pasta, rice and muffin with cocoa drink. I imagined a world where everyone will probably answer this question based on the nutrient content of the foods and being very aware of the health gain or loss from the foods. What I consider appropriate is getting answers like protein, carbohydrates, trans fat, fiber etc. and with the respondent being fully aware of could be happening in their bodies as a result of what they ate. Did I just mention fiber?
Fiber is a Cinderella story in nutrition. About 30 years ago, fiber was ‘roughage’- a non essential part of the diet, an indigestible residue of carbohydrate. It was known that fiber aided elimination and relieved constipation. Scientists and people who worried about their bowels cared about fiber, but most people paid little attention to it.
Times have changed. Now fiber has been elevated in stature to one of the most important nutrients in the promotion of health and the prevention and treatment of diseases. Increasing fiber content in our diet is very beneficial , here are some of the benefits.
Aiding elimination. Emptying your bowel everyday is one of the first steps to a healthy life. What would you say?
In the digestive tract, insoluble fiber contributes bulk and absorbs water, making us feel full. This bulking action also has a laxative effect and aids elimination.
Weight Control- Most fiber you eat stay in the digestive tract and do not provide calories. Many low calory fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber and make us feel fuller than calorie dense foods.
Diabetic Control- Soluble fiber in the diet has been shown to reduce insulin requirements, thus, improving control of blood sugar. Simultaneously, it decreases serum cholesterol and blood pressure.
Lowering Blood Cholesterol Levels- Soluble fibers (pectin, gums,beans, locust beans, oat bran etc) are very effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels whose effect when high or in excess is deadly. Adding fiber to your diet is a sure way to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Preventing Colon Cancer- Insoluble fiber (e.g. of source include whole grain, vegetables such as green beans, dark green vegetables, whole wheat, fruit skins and root vegetable skins, seeds and nuts) adds bulk to the contents of the intestine and this speeds up the transit time of meal’s remnants through the small and large intestines. This decrease the time that cells in the colon’s lining are exposed to toxins, including carcinogens that could be present, thus reducing the chances of colon cancer.
Having discussed a bit on fiber, it is time to as the question again hoping that you will give an answer. What have you been eating, how much of fiber do you eat?