Are You Getting Enough Fiber?
We’ve all seen the dietary fiber commercials featuring elderly folks who stay faithful to their fiber regimes in order to stay “regular.” But do you know that it’s just as important that you get your recommended daily dosage of fiber, even if you’re young and active (or middle aged and just plain busy)? Fiber is basically plant parts (carbohydrates and lignin) that move through our bodies, undigested, in order to usher nutrients through (and wastes out of) our systems as efficiently as possible. Here are some things about fiber you should know.
Recommended Daily Intake
The FDA recommends that women ingest about twenty-five grams a day, while men should ingest about thirty-five grams a day. There is no upper limit to fiber intake that is dangerous or toxic to the system, but it is important to know that too much fiber can throw the body out of balance, just as too little can. The best way to determine if you are getting too much fiber is to pay attention to your bowel movements. If your bowel seems overactive and your movements are loose, then it’s possible you’ve overdone it with the fiber and should cut back. If you feel you aren't getting enough fiber, add it to your diet slowly, in increments, to prevent the same type of disturbance.
The Benefits of Fiber
Fiber helps maintain a healthy body weight, and can even promote weight loss, in two ways: by moving food through and out of the system, and by bulking up in the intestines, staving off hunger and preventing the body from absorbing more calories than necessary. Fiber can help prevent and manage diabetes by lowering the body’s insulin requirements and blood sugar levels. Studies show that high dietary fiber can lower LDL levels, in turn lowering the risk of heart disease by up to fifty percent. Additionally, bowel problems, constipation, and digestion issues can be cleared up by taking the right amount of fiber on a daily basis.
Sources of Fiber
Fiber is naturally found in a wide variety of foods. Try adding the following to your diet to bulk up your fiber intake: beans/legumes, brown rice, whole grain breads and pastas, nuts, berries, bran, popcorn, oatmeal, potato skins, and vegetables (the more fibrous and crunchy, the better). Supplements are also a great source of fiber – especially if you're not a fan of veggies. Shaklee has a series of fiber supplements you should consider (ask me about them!).
If you find that you need to add fiber to your diet, a good rule of thumb is to start slow and drink plenty of calorie-free fluids to help your body adjust. In no time, you will be reaping the benefits of healthy fiber intake, and your body will feel younger and more vibrant – no matter what your age.