Our grandparents called it roughage, but the importance of fiber in our diets has been known for over 100 years. As we continue to eat processed foods, with increasing amounts of refined sugar and flour, fiber becomes an even more important ingredient in our meals. A large part of our health and comfort depends on digestion, and that depends on fiber. This article explains what fibers is, why it's important and why fruits and vegetables play an important role by providing the fiber we need.
Imagine your digestive tract as the fuel system for your car. If impurities are in your fuel or if the line gets clogged, the car won't run. Some impurities added to the fuel will destroy your engine. Our bodies run just like that. Food contains useful ingredients (nutrients) and impurities (cholesterol, toxins, excess sugars and fats). Fiber helps the body process the fuel from our foods, while eliminating the toxins. The less fiber in our diet, the more impurities in our fuel system. These impurities can lead to diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and some cancers. The increasing numbers of people suffering these diseases is exactly in proportion to our reduction of fiber consumption in the US. According to the FDA, we consume about 1/3 the dietary fiber necessary for optimum health.
There are many high quality fiber supplements that can help our diets. They come in powder, cracker and capsule form. You have to be careful, here. many of these are synthetic chemicals or natural substances flavored with sugar and other chemicals, to make the supplement more palatable, but adding unnecessary calories and chemicals to an already too synthetic diet. By far, the best way to add fiber to our diets is to replace some of our processed foods with fresh fruits and vegetables. These foods have high amounts of fiber and antioxidants and many other necessary nutrients missing in our diets. It's impossible to supplement all of the required nutrients contained in a variety of fruits and vegetables.
"I've heard of fat soluble and water soluble, gum, pectin, lignin and other kinds of fiber. How do I know which is best?" Some will say one type is best. Others will say another. It's probably directly related to the type they're selling. According to the FDA, no one knows...we need all of them. I saw one fiber supplement supplier who offered what they called the ultimate mixture of fiber from natural sources...very expensive. Far more expensive and less healthy than getting the fiber from a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. This is why supplementation can never replace the fiber found in real food. Fruits and vegetables contain varying amounts of all the necessary fibers, along with thousands of other nutrients.
With fiber, it's important to increase it slowly and increase your water intake along with it. Here's a list of high fiber foods to help you get started choosing the right fruits and vegetables to add to your diet. It's more important to include a wide variety fiber-rich foods in your daily diet, than it is to use the highest total fiber amount. Since different fruits and vegetables have different mixtures of the types of fiber, you'll be sure to get enough of each type if you keep it varied.
Even though our science isn't advanced enough to say exactly how much of any one nutrient is essential, we do know fiber of all kinds can reduce the risk of serious and deadly disease. We also know that fresh fruit and vegetables are the best sources for all the types of fiber we need, along with countless other nutrients. The more we learn about our physical needs, the more wisdom we find in that old slogan, "An apple a day..."
If you're looking to improve your health, you probably want a healthy life...including mind, body and spirit. You can renew your mind and spirit with God's help. He can heal the stuff your diet doesn't control. If you want His help, go to Healing From God.
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