Posts Tagged ‘fiber’

To Your Good Health. Give Me a High Fi-Ber!

September 30, 2014

We are trying to lead a healthy lifestyle. Doctors advise us to avoid processed food, take vitamins, and to exercise on a regular basis. Part of leading a healthy life style includes including plenty of fiber in our diets. Most men and women consume only 15gms of fiber a day. The daily recommendation for men is 35gms daily of fiber and for women the recommendation is 25gms. You can increase your fiber by 7gms a day by increasing vegetable and fruit consumption by two portions a day.

Good sources of fiber include what, rice, oats, barley and beans. Also fiber can be found in nuts and seeds, carrots, cauliflower, citrus fruits, strawberries and apples.

There’s no shortage of research showing how fiber may boost your health. Some of its top potential benefits include:

  • Blood sugar control: Soluble fiber may help to slow your body’s breakdown of carbohydrates and the absorption of sugar, helping with blood sugar control.
  • Heart health: An inverse association has been found between fiber intake and heart attack, and research shows that those eating a high-fiber diet have a 40 percent lower risk of heart disease.
  • Stroke: Researchers have found that for every seven-grams more fiber you consume on a daily basis, your stroke risk is decreased by 7 percent.
  • Weight loss and management: Fiber supplements have been shown to enhance weight loss among obese people,3 likely because fiber increases feelings of fullness.
  • Skin health: Fiber, particularly psyllium husk, may help move yeast and fungus out of your body, preventing them from being excreted through your skin where they could trigger acne or rashes.
  • Diverticulitis: Dietary fiber (especially insoluble) may reduce your risk of diverticulitis – an inflammation of polyps in your intestine – by 40 percent.
  • Hemorrhoids: A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of hemorrhoids.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Fiber may provide some relief from IBS.
  • Gallstones and kidney stones: A high-fiber diet may reduce the risk of gallstones and kidney stones, likely because of its ability to help regulate blood sugar.

Bottom Line: High-fiber foods are good for your health. But adding too much fiber too quickly can promote intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. Increase fiber in your diet gradually over a period of a few weeks. This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change. Finally, drink plenty of water. Fiber works best when it absorbs water, making your stool soft and bulky.

Modified from article by Dr. Maureen Hecker-Rodriguez from Touro Infirmary

Nutrition for Your Prostate Gland

January 9, 2012

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men causing nearly 250,000 new cases each year. It is the second most common cause of death in American men, killing nearly 40,000 men annually. However, with regular examination consisting of a digital rectal exam and a PSA blood test, prostate cancer can be detected early and treated. There are other healthy life-style changes that can be easily done that may even help prevent prostate cancer.
1. Start taking vitamin D, E and selenium supplements. Although further research is needed to confirm their effectiveness, studies have demonstrated that all three, vitamin D, E and selenium, show promise with regard to prostate cancer prevention when taken regularly.
2. Eat more soybeans (or soybean products) and other legumes. Elevated levels of testosterone may increase your risk for developing prostate cancer. The phytoestrogens-nonsteroidal plant compounds that act like estrogen in the body and thus can help to regulate imbalanced hormone levels-contained in these foods may help to prevent prostate cancer; genistein, an isoflavone also found in soy foods, helps to normalize hormone levels and thus may reduce prostate cancer.
3. Drink green tea. Antioxidant compounds in green tea may help prevent prostate cancer; some have even been found to kill prostate cancer cells in test tubes, while others have blocked enzymes that promote prostate cancer.
4. Get plenty of fiber. Fiber can eliminate excess testosterone in the body; thus, a high-fiber diet can aid in the regulation of your body’s hormone levels and may help reduce the risk for prostate cancer.
5. Reduce your intake of meat and saturated fats. Follow a low-fat diet: diets high in saturated fat ¬animal fat in particular-and red met have been found to increase the risk for prostate cancer. Eating a low-tat diet also helps to prevent obesity, a condition that may also increase prostate cancer risk.
6. Eat more broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts and greens. A recent study found that men who ate cruciferous vegetables more than once a week were 40% less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than men who rarely ate them.
7. Eat cooked tomatoes. Lycopene, the carotenoid pigment that makes tomatoes bright red, possesses powerful antioxidant properties and has been linked in some studies to a decreased risk for prostate cancer.
8. Limit your dairy consumption. Diets high in dairy products and calcium may be associated with small increases in prostate cancer risk. Moderate your dairy consumption, and don’t overdo calcium¬ supplements or foods fortified with extra calcium.
9. Get regular aerobic exercise. Regular aerobic exercise has been associated with reduced risk levels for prostate cancer: exercise also helps prevent obesity and other health-related complications that obesity causes.
10. See your physician for prostate cancer screenings regularly. While regular screenings can’t reduce your risk for prostate cancer, changes in diet and exercise can. They help ensure early diagnosis so that prostate cancer can be treated as effectively as possible. My best advice is to get screened annually if you are over the age of 50, if you have a family member who has prostate cancer, or if you are an African-American man.

Bottom Line: Prostate cancer may have a relationship with diet. I cannot tell you for certain if you follow these instructions you will not develop prostate cancer. But as my wonderful Jewish mother would say, “It may not help, but it voidn’t hoit!”

Constipation-Not All That It’s Cracked Up To Be

January 2, 2012

I try to lead a very transparent life and I would like to share an experience with the readers of my column. Recently I’ve had knee surgery and have taken pain medication to make it possible to work and sleep. However, I experienced one of the side effects of pain medication, i.e., constipation. I’ve discovered various myths associated with the dreaded “C” that I think is worth passing along.
What’s “normal” varies from person to person. Some people go three times a day; others, three times a week. Although having a bowel movement once a day is common, it’s fine to go a few days without one.
Some people believe that constipation causes the body to absorb poisonous substances in stools. But there’s no evidence that the stools produce toxins or that colon cleansing, laxatives, or enemas can prevent cancer or other diseases.
Older people are more likely to become constipated. This can be because of medical conditions, poor nutrition, greater use of medications, or not enough physical activity. But constipation is one of the most common issues among other age groups, too. For example, it’s not unusual during pregnancy or after childbirth or surgery.
Increasing the fiber in your diet can often help constipation. But chronic constipation can signal a real problem. In rare cases, it can signal illnesses such as colorectal cancer or autoimmune disease. In my case, the constipation was due to inactivity and the use of pain medication, which result in a decrease in peristalsis or rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the colon.
Travel can change your daily routine and diet, contributing to constipation. Avoid dehydration-related constipation by drinking water, especially if you’re flying. Also move around when you can — for example, while waiting for plane connections or by taking rest stops when driving. Other travel tips: Exercise, limit alcohol, and make a point of eating fruits and vegetables.
Depression may trigger constipation or make it worse. Reducing stress may help. Massaging the abdomen may help relax the muscles that support the intestines and get your bowels moving.
You may feel too busy at work to have a bowel movement. Or you’d rather wait until you’re home. But ignoring the urge when it comes may not only make you physically uncomfortable — it can cause or aggravate constipation by weakening the signals over time. Some people find it helps to set aside time after breakfast, when the coffee “kicks” in, or another meal for a bowel movement. But no matter when nature calls, answer.
Besides medications for pain, medications for depression, high blood pressure, and Parkinson’s disease are associated with constipation. Too much calcium and iron can also lead to constipation. Calcium supplements, especially if taken with another supplement or medication that binds the stool, may also cause problems.
Fiber Fixes for Feces
Try to get at least 20 grams a day of fiber. Eat more whole fruits and vegetables; replace white rice, bread, and pastas with whole-grain products and brown rice. And don’t forget to drink at least 2 to 4 extra glasses of water a day.
Eating foods with fiber helps you feel full and stay regular. Insoluble fiber in particular can help ease constipation because it’s indigestible and doesn’t dissolve in water. It adds bulk to stool and helps it pass through the intestines faster. Good sources of insoluble fiber are whole-grain breads, pasta, and cereal.
This small, dried fruit has earned a big reputation as “nature’s remedy” for constipation. Prunes (often called dried plums) can prevent or improve constipation symptoms. They’re packed with insoluble fiber, as well as the natural laxatives sorbitol and dihydrophenylisatin.
Get moving since lack of physical activity can contribute to constipation. Exercise, however, can help make your bowel movements more regular and can reduce stress. Try a 10- to 15-minute walk several times a day. Stretching and yoga can also help constipation.
Coffee and constipation. It’s true that the caffeine in coffee can stimulate the muscles in your digestive system to contract, causing a bowel movement. So why isn’t it recommended as a fix for constipation? Coffee can actually make stools harder to pass because it is also a diuretic, so it draws liquid out of stools. If you are constipated, avoid coffee and other diuretics such as alcohol and caffeinated tea and cola.
Depending on the type of over-the-counter laxative you use, you may need to wait a few minutes or a few days to produce a bowel movement. A suppository, like Ducolax, might work within an hour.
Stool softeners prevent constipation by allowing stools to absorb more water from the colon. They prevent feces from hardening — softer stools are easier to eliminate from the body. In some cases, your doctor prescribes stool softeners after surgery when you need to avoid straining during bowel movements.
Castor oil is a powerful laxative. But like other laxatives, it should not be used long-term. Overusing laxatives can hurt your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and some medications. Castor oil can damage the bowel muscles, nerves, and tissue if overused — all of which can cause constipation. Use it only with a doctor’s guidance.
Blood in a bowel movement is not always serious, but you should always call your doctor if it happens. Bright red blood is usually from hemorrhoids or tears in the anal lining called fissures. Constipation and straining during bowel movements can be the cause. Maroon or tarry black blood or clots usually mean bleeding is coming from higher in the gastrointestinal tract. The cause may be more serious.
Bottom Line: It is nice to be normal and have a BM every day. Failure to do so, is not a reason to call 911. If you have a change in your bowel habits contact your physician. Your colon will thank you!

Facts on Fiber

December 11, 2011

Most of us haven’t a clue how many grams of fiber we get from our diets in on a typical day. Yet for many Americans, this number should be doubled.
Most of us don’t even come close to the recommended intake of 20 grams to 35 grams of fiber a day. Americans’ mean fiber intake is about half that –14-15 grams a day.
That’s not surprising when you consider that we get fiber from ‘roughage’ like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts/seeds, and beans. The typical American isn’t exactly loading his or her plate with these foods (you’d be hard-pressed to find a fruit, vegetable, whole grain, or bean in your average fast-food value meal).
Why Is Fiber so Good for Us?
Eating a higher-fiber diet has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels, improve and prevent constipation, slow digestion and can help us eat less — and lose weight.
Simply doubling the amount of fiber you eat from the average of 15 grams per day to around 30 grams helps reduce calorie intake. Fiber has been shown to increase satiety, not only by lowering the energy density of foods (that is, how many calories they have per serving) but also by slowing the rate that foods pass through the digestive systems.
When you increase dietary fiber, do it gradually to avoid gastric distress, and to drink plenty of fluid to avoid constipation.
Dietary fiber not only makes us feel fuller, but reduces digestibility. Some studies have shown that large amounts of fiber in the diet can help regulate blood glucose and insulin. These may be reasons why people who eat higher-fiber diets tend to weigh less and are less prone to gain weight as they age.
The research findings on fiber’s benefits keep pouring in. Some recent studies have shown that:
• Eating a higher-fiber diet, as part of an overall healthful lifestyle, may play a role in a healthful BMI ( body mass index). One study found that women who ate more whole grains and total fiber consistently gained less weight over 12 years than those who ate less fiber and whole grains. Another study found that women with low-fiber, high-fat diets were more likely to be overweight than those following high-fiber, low-fat diets. Weight control advice for American women should place greater emphasis on consumption of fiber.
• A high-fiber diet may reduce your risk of colon cancer. If populations with a low average fiber intake suddenly doubled their fiber by making wiser food choices, they could lower their risk of colon cancer by 40%, according to a study involving data collected from 10 European countries. A recent National Cancer Institute study also linked high fiber intakes to a lower risk of colorectal cancer. This was especially true for fiber from grains, cereals, and fruits.
Fiber may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Those who ate a diet high in refined carbohydrates and low in cereal fiber were more likely to increase their risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a recent study. And a recent Finnish study showed that as whole grain and cereal fiber intake increased, the risk of type 2 diabetes seemed to decrease. But it may not just be all about the fiber in this case; high-fiber foods are also rich in important micronutrients. That’s why it’s better to concentrate on including whole plant foods in your diet than to take a fiber pill or supplement.

Fiber intake has also been linked to the metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that increase the chances of developing heart disease and diabetes:
• Higher intakes of fiber (from cereal and whole-grain products) were linked with a slower build up of cholesterol filled plaque of the arteries in postmenopausal women with coronary artery disease. In another study, in men and women aged 40-60 and free of heart disease, viscous fiber (especially pectin, the type of soluble fiber found in apples) appeared to protect against the progression of atherosclerosis in neck arteries.
• High intakes of oat fiber appeared to have a protective effect on the heart, by lowering LDL “bad” cholesterol without decreasing HDL “good” cholesterol.

The 2 Types of Fiber
Though both have health benefits, there’s a difference between the insoluble, type of fiber found in whole grains, carrots, tomatoes, and lettuce, and the softer, water-soluble type found in oatmeal, pears, strawberries, and apples.
Soluble or viscous fiber is the softer type that dissolves in water.
When digested, it helps prevent cholesterol from being absorbed in the intestines. This type of fiber is also thought to help minimize the rise in blood sugar levels after a meal, which is particularly helpful for people with diabetes.
This type of fiber comes from: beans (they have both types of fiber), oatmeal and oat bran, some fruits (apples, mangoes, plums, kiwi, pears, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, citrus fruits, dried apricots, prunes, and figs), and some vegetables (dried peas, beans, and lentils).
Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water.
It helps keep bowel movements regular, and may reduce the risk of colon problems. It may also reduce the risk of hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and obesity (by making us feel full).
Insoluble fiber is found in: Whole-wheat grain and wheat bran, brown rice, bulgur, seeds, and vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, celery, and tomatoes).
The bottom line: All dietary fiber is good for you. Just get more of it. So feast on fiber!
This was modified by an article from WebMd High-fiber foods boost health and help control your weight by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD

A Grapefruit May Be The New Apple-But Be Careful

July 24, 2011

For generations we have been encouraged to eat an apple-a-day in order to stay healthy and keep the doctor at bay. Today, the new apple may just be the grapefruit.
Let’s look at the benefits of grapefruit:

Appetite Loss: Grapefruit reduces the feeling of hunger. This is the reason why people include grapefruit in their weight loss programs. High fiber contained by this fruit can satisfy hunger and thus may avoid any overeating temptation. Grapefruit juice, if combined with water, can quench the thirst.

Fatigue: Grapefruit is beneficial in the treatment of fatigue. It helps to dispel fatigue and general tiredness. It can bring about a refreshing feeling in you when you drink equal amount of grapefruit juice and lemon juice.

Acidity: The fresh grapefruit juice has alkaline reaction after digestion. The citric acid increases the effect of the alkalinity reaction after digestion. The juice extracted from the grapefruit is beneficial in preventing the acid formation and many other diseases that arise due to the presence of acidity in the body.

Indigestion: Grapefruit is useful for solving the problem of indigestion. It is very light as compared to other food articles and thus, acts immediately on indigestion by easing the heat and irritation caused in the stomach. It improves the flow of digestive juices, thereby improving the digestive systems.

Insomnia: A simple glass of grapefruit juice, if drunk before going to bed, can promote healthy and sweet sleep and thus, alleviates insomnia.

Constipation: A glass full of fresh squeezed grapefruit in the morning is the best remedy to control the constipation. Grapefruits are high in fiber and they result best in stimulating the colon and other parts of the body.

Urinary Disorders: Grapefruit juice is quite rich in potassium and vitamin C and thus, works as the best medicine in the case of recurrent urinary tract infections.

Lowers Cholesterol: The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that consumption of grapefruit can reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, as well as triglycerides.

Caveats on grapefruit
As with any medication, there are considerations about the use of grapefruit with medications. More than 50 prescription and over-the-counter drugs are affected by grapefruit juice, including some of the most commonly prescribed medications. This list includes a number of medications used to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression, pain, erectile dysfunction, and allergies.

Grapefruit contains a substance that inhibits the enzyme called CYP3A4. This powerful enzyme breaks down numerous medications such as the cholesterol-lowering drug, Lipitor. Patients who take Lipitor, or some antidepressant medication, and eat grapefruit, can have toxic levels of the medications because the grapefruit inhibits CYP34A.

So what are patients to do? Check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist to find out about your specific drug. All new medications are tested for drug interactions, including grapefruit juice, before they are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When you order medications in the mail or pick them up at your local pharmacy, you should receive a patient information sheet, which will let you know if your drug is affected by grapefruit juice. Some pharmacies may also put a warning label on your medication bottle. If you are not sure, ask the pharmacist.

Bottom Line: Grapefruit juice may be helpful for many conditions and improve overall health. However, there are precautions about using grapefruit because of interactions with certain medications. If you have any questions, check with your doctor or your pharmacist.