Here's the poop on fiber

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fiber is your friend. And not just because it helps to keep you “regular”, although that’s certainly a nice side effect. The real benefit is that fiber may be one of the keys to preventing diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Oh, and weight gain.

Fiber, found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, is the part of plant foods that humans can’t digest. There are two types of fiber:

Insoluble fiber is the chewy part of a plant that does not dissolve in water. It pretty much passes through your system intact, soaking up water like a big old sponge. This is the type of fiber that prevents constipation and speeds up the rate at which food travels through your system.

Insoluble fiber is found in whole wheat breads, wheat bran, rye, most other whole grains (including brown rice, bulgur wheat, oatmeal, barley and quinoa), cabbage, beets, carrots, Brussels sprouts, turnips, cauliflower and in the skins of fruits and vegetables. Also note that while the whole fruit is full of fiber, there is no fiber in fruit juice.

Soluble fiber is found inside plant walls and dissolves in water to form a sticky, gel-like substance that binds to dietary cholesterol as it passes through your system, helping your body to eliminate it. And eliminating all that cholesterol may help to prevent stroke, heart disease, and some gastrointestinal problems.

Soluble fiber is found in oats (which have the highest proportion of soluble fiber of any grain), oat bran, beans, peas, rice bran, citrus fruits and strawberries.

So how much fiber do you need? Current recommendations are 25 to 35 grams of dietary fiber per day. Most people will probably get about half of that.

Increasing your fiber intake doesn’t have to be hard. Switching to 100 percent whole grains will help, as will adding a few more servings of raw fruits and vegetables. And eat more beans! They are LOADED with soluble fiber and also include lots of plant protein. Throw them into your soups and stews or on top of your salads. Garbanzo beans are especially delicious on a salad.

Simple changes to add 15 grams of fiber to your day: Have a high fiber cereal, like Raisin Brain or Fiber One instead of corn flakes or Cheerios. Make your sandwich with a whole grain bread, pita or tortilla instead of white bread. Eat ½ cup of baked or refried beans instead of a pasta salad.

One final tip: If you’re not used to a high-fiber diet, make sure you drink a lot of water. Failing to do so can make all that lovely fiber sit in your stomach like a brick – quite the opposite effect of what we’re looking for. Trust me on this.


Ms Cupcake said...

Checking in from sits! It's Hump Day.

I have a new giveaway on my blog.

Zen Cupcake: New Giveaway! Barbie Turns 50 Years Old!

Have a great day!

carma said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and welcoming me to SITS. You gals rock! Yes, definitely drink lots of water with the fiber. I'm all too familiar with fiber bloat :-(

I am Harriet said...

I'm stopping by via SITS to say "hello".
Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Lots of great Tips! What a wonderful blog.

Thank you so much for the warm welcome to SITS!

pam said...

I eat the exact opposite - a low fiber diet:)

Camevil said...

Gotta keep the pipes in tip top shape! My 18 year-old self would look at my 38 year-old self and die from embarrassment at such an elderly "concern". *pfft*

Oh, beans are especially good. Packed with protein, and they're yummy and filling. Hubby is making his 3-bean turkey chili this week. I'm going to be regular for a month!

Michelle said...

Great, my kids both ate a ton of brussell sprouts last night. Should be a fun day. :)

I've been eating more oats since my high cholesterol was diagnosed. I picked up quick cooking steel cut oats from TJ's, but haven't tried them yet.

Porters said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Looks like you have a very nice one yourself! How did you get rid of the word verification?

elesa said...

I love the title of this post. And now I feel all motivated to eat lots of fiber and stuff. Maybe I will go eat an apple, instead of the oreos I planned on eating. Thanks!

Nana said...

I have been trying to get a lot more fiber in my diet lately.... excuse me I have to go to the bathroom.

Anonymous said...

My goodness.

I knew fiber was good, but I guess I never understood why. Thanks for the info.

Jen said...

Fiber is definitely our friend!

Carebear said...

Thanks. Great reminders. I am definitely not on a high fiber diet. I'm on more of the chocolate and refined sugar diet. Not good. I'll be sure to let my little Beast know that the contents of his nose do not fall anywhere on the food pyramid, LOL! Thanks for stopping by!

kristisummer said...

Gotta love fiber. I am trying to get more. Thanks for the reminder. We need regularity no matter what age!

Shangrila said...

I'll never forget a chapter in one of Marilou Henner's books about fiber/elimination. She claimed bms should float and it stuck with me...just sayin'!

Bonnie said...

Great tips, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Mrs. Jelly Belly!!!
Fiber is so important. I've heard that we should, uh...eliminate, after every meal. Some people don't even eliminate every day! People really underestimate how important fiber is. Oh, and you're right about drinking enough water. Once, I was taking fiber pills and didn't drink enough water....I don't really need to finish this story, do I?

Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

After EVERY meal? Yikes! How, um, inconvenient... (And no, you didn't need to finish that story...I've been there.)

Ryan Ashley Scott said...

So this is why you want my quinoa! :) Thank you for the pronunciation - I have been sounding like an idiot for weeks. Nothing new.

You are a wealth of information - good to know about the cheerios, although they do taste better than Fiber one. I'm just guessing.

Brittany said...

Cute title!
FYI: Watch out for the Fiber One bars... they will set you free! TMI?! :)

Brandy said...

Oh how I wish that I had read that last part a couple months ago. Right after I went high fiber I was miserable. Now that I've lightened a little on the fiber and I've increased the water I'm okay.

Is that TMI?!

Anyway thank you for spelling it out.

Housewife Savant said...

I'm new via SITS, lured in by your name, reading like a hungry newbie, b/c I'm a low carb loving, strength-training gal m'self.
I'm nutrition-ish but no where near as smart as you, darlin' so I love the need-to-know skinny you're sharing.

Good stuff here. I'm coming back!

Anonymous said...

Love your site
Here is an article I ran across that is related. Good reading

Poop Your Way Free of Back Pain

By Steven Hefferon, PTA, CMT

Whether you have flat abs or a beer belly, you can experience pain due to excess abdominal gas and excess fecal matter in your intestines. It has been said that if you have only one bowel movement a day, you have up to eight meals left in your intestines. Gas can develop in a matter of hours after eating and stay around for a long time so listen up.

How does this relate to back pain? Allow me to explain… Abdominal gas can be devastating to the back-pain sufferer, especially one who is trying to take a more natural approach and is using stretching and exercise to get relief. Here's why: The position of your pelvis and the curvature of your spine are the two biggest factors that affect any condition that causes back pain. Even if the treatment you are using is a good one, your results will be hindered by a distended belly.

Big Belly Gas Pains
Let me give you an example: Suppose the last thing you eat at night is fruit. Your body will begin to digest it, and because fruit ferments very quickly, gas will be an automatic byproduct of that breakdown. Without any other food matter to push the gas along, it will get trapped. All night long your body will be fighting the effects of that gas, and you will wake up in the morning with killer back pain.

That's why I never recommend fruit as a midnight snack. Right now you may be thinking: What's so bad about a little gas? Answer: If your belly gets distended - much like a pregnant women - your abdominals are going to get stretched out, which means they are not going to be able to stabilize your pelvis as they should.

There is no amount of abdominal strengthening you could do to overcome the outward push of that abdominal gas. If your belly is distended, you will never achieve the neutral position for the pelvis that you need to get relief.

Flat Abs Gas Pains
I know what some of you are going to say: "But what if I have flat abs and back pain?" Even if you have rock-hard abs, the gas - instead of pushing your belly outward - could be pushing your intestines back into your spine and the muscle of your spine. That irritation of your intestines could be just as bad as, if not worse than, the outward forces. In either case, you will be amazed at how fast you'll get relief if you work on getting that gas out of your system.

5 Things You'd Rather Not Know
If having too much gas was not bad enough, there are at least five other irritating conditions that can affect your back pain due to improper bowel movement.

1. Most people are chronically dehydrated, which usually leads to constipation. Other reasons you might be constipated include the medications you are taking and the foods you eat. With constipation, you go through your day with excess pressure on your bowels. And whenever your colon is full of waste matter, it will be stiff and rigid. Because your colon is so close to your spine and the muscle of your spine, mobility becomes an issue, not to mention more pain.

2. Constipation creates strain. If your fecal matter is dry, hard, and difficult to eliminate, you will have to work harder to get rid of it. This can be murder on your body - your blood pressure spikes, your rectum is traumatized, and the pressure on your spine is tremendous.

3. Food allergies cause inflammation. Whether we know it or not, many of us have food allergies (nuts, wheat, milk, beans, etc.). With any allergies, you will have an inflammatory reaction, and the inflammation that emanates from your intestinal track is so close to your spine that the inflammation is going to affect the muscle of your spine.

4. Poor nutrient absorption can add pounds. A digestive track that is not absorbing nutrients properly will not allow your body to get the nutrients it needs to repair itself. This can bring on a chronic cycle of eating to try to satisfy your nutritional needs, which likely will lead to weight gain.

5. Stress on internal organs weakens tissue. The weight of the excess stool will put stress on your internal organs - your stomach, small intestines, and large intestines, all of which are held in place by very delicate fibrous connective tissue. As that connective tissue is weighed down over time, it will start to fail than sag and than your trouble are going to be compounded.

Poop Away Pain
Most people would do almost anything to get rid of their back pain. If you are undergoing any type of treatment (including the principles of Muscle Balance Therapy) and want to improve your odds of getting relief sooner, try these tips:

Drink more water. A good rule of thumb is to drink one ounce of water for every two pounds of your body weight. For instance, if you weigh 100 pounds, drink at least 50 ounces of water each day.

Give yourself a visceral massage (called Sun-Moon). To begin, lie on your back and with both hands starting just above your right hip, apply inward pressure on your abdomen, going straight up to the bottom of your rib cage. Then follow along the bottom of the rib cage to the left and then down to the top of the left hip. Go slow and repeat to tolerance.

Try Hydro Colon Therapy. Also know as colonic irrigation, it is a highly effective, although somewhat uncomfortable, method of flushing out the colon, or large intestine. Similar to an enema but more extensive, this procedure can be pricey (it has to be done by a trained professional).

Natural Colon Cleanse. A less-invasive option is to find a good all-natural colon-cleansing product. Many of the new formulations taste okay, work gently, and cause no cramping or bloating. Most of these products begin to work overnight. The better products come with an anti-parasitic and an herbal tea.

To get the best results from whatever back pain treatment you are trying right now, do yourself a favor and drink more water and cleanse your colon. You will be amazed at the results and your waist line will love you too...

Nel (not a blogger just like reading)