Focus On Fiber To Enhance Overall Health And Diabetes Care

One of the best things we can do for our overall health, and diabetes care, is make sure our diet provides plenty of fiber.

Fiber makes us feel satisfied after eating, it eases elimination, and is associated with less risk for chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.

Small and Large Benefits

In our small intestine, fiber creates a sense of fullness, it traps fats and cholesterol, and slows down the absorption of sugars. This facilitates weight control, glucose management, and protects cardiovascular health.

In our large intestine, the fermentation of fiber creates and feeds the healthy gut bacteria that support our infection-fighting immune system. Adequate gut bacteria have also been associated with better mental, and emotional health.

To maximize these fiber benefits, women need at least 25 fiber grams per day, and men need 38 grams, but most Americans consume only half those amounts.

Getting Enough Fiber

Since most of us do not bother counting the grams of fiber we consume, an easy way to get 25 to 38 grams of fiber daily is to remember the numbers 3-3-2:

  • Eat at least 3 vegetable servings every day.
  • Eat at least 3 whole grain servings every day.
  • Eat at least 2 fruit servings every day.

And, here are 10 fiber-full tips to keep in mind while grocery shopping, or meal planning:

  1. Eat more legumes, such as black beans, garbanzo, and kidney beans, peas, and lentils.
  2. Eat more berries (e.g., blueberries, raspberries): sprinkle them on cereals, and salads, or enjoy a small handful as a snack.
  3. Forget the iceberg lettuce, and buy dark, leafy greens such as romaine, arugula, butterhead, green leaf, and spinach.
  4. Snack on a cup or two of popcorn.
  5. Choose high-fiber, whole grain breakfast cereals, such as oatmeal, or Grape Nuts.
  6. Eat the skin of fruits and veggies, such as apple, potato, and carrot skins.
  7. Buy dried fruit - with little or no added sugar - to use as cereal toppings, or as part of a snack.
  8. Cook with brown rice instead of white.
  9. Eat whole fruits and veggies instead of drinking fruit or vegetable juice.
  10. Buy (or bake) 100 percent whole-grain breads.

If our fiber intake has been low, it’s best to increase it slowly. For instance, we might add one fiber-rich food to our daily diet for a week, then add a second high fiber food the next week, and so on.

Also, keep an eye out for recipes that incorporate fiber-rich foods, such as this easy seven ingredient dish.

Quick Black Beans and Rice

You will need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, undrained
  • 1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked instant brown rice

Preparation:

  1. Heat oil on medium-high in a large saucepan. Add onion; cook and stir until tender.
  2. Add beans, tomatoes, oregano, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil, then stir in rice. Cover, and reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes before serving.

The recipe makes 4 servings, and each contains approximately: 270 calories, 48 g total carbs (11.9 g fiber, 5.7 g sugars), and 12.4 g protein.

Sources:
University of Nebrask-Lincoln
; BRGHealth; Michigan State University; Web MD; Recipe Calculator/sparkpeople; All Recipes
Photo credit: bob

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