Your Friend, Fiber

I want to turn you on to a high fiber diet.  If you are not getting enough fiber in your diet and cycle from constipation to diarrhea then you are increasing your risk of developing diverticulosis.  Diverticulosis is not a fun condition, and the dietary treatment is a high fiber diet.  Diverticulosis involves little pouches called diverticuli in your colon which can become inflamed and infected and result in severe pain.  Sometimes people have to have parts of their colon removed due to the complications of diverticulosis. 

High fiber diets also may prevent cancer, heart disease, and help control diabetes.  All of this is good, so why not strive for a high fiber diet every day?  Encourage your children, parents, and grandparents to eat more fiber.  If you look at a box of cereal, pasta, or snack food you should always check out the fiber.  The best way to ensure more fiber in your diet is by eat primarily whole plant foods.  The powerhouses when it comes to fiber include legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), 100% whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.  Foods with zero fiber include meats, milk, cheese, and processed breads and cereals.

There are many foods out there with added fiber that are not whole foods.  There are cereals, bars, and other products which have fiber added.  These foods can be good additions to the diet and help you reach your high fiber diet goals, but don’t skip out on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds.  Whole foods have phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals that the processed foods often lack.

You should strive for 25-35 grams of fiber a day as an adult.  Children should get their age plus 10 grams of fiber/day (a two year old should get in 12 grams/day).  I often have people tell me that they eat a “toddler diet” which consists of chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese.  This is a high fat, low fiber diet and shouldn’t be the mainstay of you or your children’s diet.  Make sure to include whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables in your children’s diet starting at a young age. 

I gave a grocery store tour last year, and by the end of the tour everyone had caught on to my love of fiber.  When asked if a snack was healthy, I would review calorie, fat, and sodium content but end my rant with, “but it doesn’t have fiber in it…”  Sure a rice cake is low in fat and calories…but also low in fiber.  Fiber gives you a sense of fullness and fills your stomach up without the calories.  Fiber helps prevent diverticulosis and possibly other chronic diseases.  Fiber is your friend.

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