High-Fiber Foods Can Provide Long-Lasting Health Benefits

SaladBy Dr. Joseph Mercola, a physician trained in both traditional and natural medicine
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Shared by Nutrition Breakthroughs,
maker of the effective calcium and magnesium based sleep aid Sleep Minerals II
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Story At-A-Glance:

* National fiber recommendations call for a daily fiber intake of 30 to 38 grams a day for men, 25 grams a day for women between 18 to 50, and 21 grams a day for women 51 years and older. (Here’s a quick fiber reference from Nutrition Breakthroughs – One cup of cooked peas has 9 grams of fiber, an artichoke has 10, a cup of raspberries has 8 and half an avocado has 7).

* Epidemiology is the scientific study of the causes, spread, and containment of diseases within a population. A 2015 American Journal of Epidemiology study revealed that all-cause mortality was reduced by 10 percent for every 10 grams of fiber that a person added to their overall fiber intake.

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The body needs a combination of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to sustain its overall function, improve and support organs and systems, and prevent infections and diseases. Fiber is one of the most recommended nutrients, which is not at all surprising, since research has linked it with positive impacts towards different body parts, such as the gut, digestive system, brain and heart.

Unfortunately, many people around the world are consuming inadequate amounts of fiber, unaware of the potential health consequences if their body’s levels are too low.

What Is Fiber?

Dietary fiber is a plant-based nutrient that provides crucial health benefits. Sometimes called roughage or bulk, fiber is a carbohydrate that cannot be broken down into digestible sugar molecules. It usually passes through the body’s intestinal tract relatively intact, and can be categorized into:

Soluble fiber: This dissolves in water and then becomes a gel-like substance. Examples include gum, pectins, beta-glucans and mucilage.

Insoluble fiber:When it enters the body, this type of fiber retains its shape and doesn’t dissolve. Known insoluble fibers include hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin.

Why a High-Fiber Diet Matters

Both soluble and insoluble fiber are linked to valuable health benefits:

Helps optimize cholesterol levels by preventing some dietary cholesterol from being broken down and digested Slows down the rate at which nutrients are digested Aids in stabilizing blood sugar levels and preventing spikes in blood sugar levels
Helps diabetes patients by altering hormonal signals, slowing down nutrient absorption and altering fermentation that occurs in the large intestine Helps feed good bacteria in your gut Lessens the amount of time food spends in your colon and assists with eliminating it
Boosts skin health by moving yeast and fungi out of the body, preventing them from being excreted through the skin where they can cause acne or rashes Promotes satiety and weight loss, since once microbes in your gut digest fiber, a short-chain fatty acid called acetate is released and travels from the gut to the hypothalamus in the brain to signal you to stop eating Improves your sleep-wake cycles,as dietary prebiotics in fiber-rich foods have provided a significant effect on rapid-eye-movement (REM) and non-rapid-eye-movement sleep cycles

A high-fiber diet can also play a role in:

Reducing risk for obesity, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, hypertension, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, gallstones and kidney stones

Helping prevent leaky gut and constipation by absorbing fluid once it reaches the intestinal tract, allowing byproducts to stick to it

Providing relief from irritable bowel syndrome

A 2015 American Journal of Epidemiology study also revealed that a 10 percent reduced risk for all-cause mortality was recorded for every 10 grams of fiber you add to your overall fiber intake.

Some fiber-rich foods can further improve gut health by providing digestive-resistant starch. What makes this type of fiber special is its potential for fermentation in the large intestine. Resistant starches are able to feed healthy bacteria, act as prebiotics and bulk up bowel movements for easier elimination without making you feel bloated or gassy.

On the other hand, there are consequences linked to a low-fiber diet. Animal studies discovered that low-fiber diets trigger “waves of extinction” in the gut of mice, with the unhealthy gut potentially being passed on to the offspring. Each successive generation of offspring from the low-fiber group ended up with less bacterial diversity compared to their parents.

Plus, even after the mice were given high-fiber meals, the amount of good bacteria still remained low. This suggests a difficulty in repopulating certain good gut bacteria strains once they have been negatively impacted. Aside from depletion of healthy bacteria, consuming little to no fiber-rich foods can lead to:

Higher risk for constipation, hemorrhoids, and chronic and cardiovascular diseases

Weight gain

Increased cholesterol levels

How Many Grams of Fiber Should You Consume Per Day?

National fiber recommendations call for a daily fiber intake of 30 to 38 grams a day for men, 25 grams a day for women between 18 to 50 years old, and 21 grams a day for women 51 years old and above. However, my recommendation for an ideal fiber intake stands at 25 to 50 grams per 1,000 calories consumed, usually from fiber-rich foods. This amount may help boost your overall health and well-being.

Eat More of These High-Fiber Foods

To significantly raise your fiber intake, incorporate these high-fiber fruits and high-fiber vegetables into your meals. These can also double as high-fiber snacks you and your loved ones can munch on. Ten of the most notable fiber-rich foods to try include:

1. Split peas and green peas: Despite their small size, peas are a very good fiber source. Cooked split peas roughly contain 16.3 grams of fiber per cup, while cooked green peas have 8.8 grams of fiber per cup.

2. Artichokes: Fiber is one of the main nutrients in artichokes. A medium-sized cooked artichoke may deliver 10.3 grams of fiber.

3. Raspberries: A cup of these sweet antioxidant-rich berries has 8 grams of fiber.

4. Collard greens: Eating these low-calorie leafy greens can help raise your fiber intake, since a cup contains around 7.6 grams of fiber.

5. Blackberries: Another type of berries that contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, a cup of blackberries has 7.6 grams of this nutrient.

6. Avocados: Avocados aren’t just a source of healthy fats that are vital for overall health. Half an avocado typically contains 6.7 grams of fiber.

7. Pears: A medium-sized pear has 5.5 grams of fiber, alongside phytonutrients like beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

8. Spinach (with the leaves intact): Spinach is another fiber-rich leafy green – just one cup may provide you with 4.32 grams of the said nutrient.

9. Brussels sprouts: One cup of boiled Brussels sprouts can deliver around 4.1 grams of fiber.

10. Flaxseeds: These seeds have an impressive fiber content, with 2 tablespoons having roughly 3.82 grams of fiber.

You can also count on these high-fiber fruits and vegetables to deliver some amounts of this nutrient:

High-Fiber Fruits

Berries like strawberries, elderberries,cranberries and loganberries Stewed prunes
Dried figs or dates Apples with the skin intact
Bananas Oranges
Nectarines Grapefruits
Persimmons Tamarillos
Pomegranates Tomatoes
Kiwis

High-Fiber Vegetables

Broccoli Cauliflower
Pumpkins Onions
Sweet potatoes Jicama
Green beans Chicory root
Beetroot Fennel bulb
Shallots Savoy cabbage
Turnip greens, beet greens and mustard greens Summer and winter squash
Swiss chard Asparagus
Kale Fennel
Eggplant Chili peppers
Bell peppers Bok choy

Other fiber-rich foods include burdock root, tempeh, seaweed, couscous, cinnamon, cloves, hemp and chia seeds, and nuts like almonds, pistachios and walnuts. When buying fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, pick those that are fresh, organically grown and GMO-free, so you may be able to reap other nutrients and benefits these foods have to offer and avoid side effects linked to substances like pesticides and herbicides sprayed on conventionally grown crops.

Organic whole psyllium husk is also a good fiber source. When it interacts with water in your body, it swells and develops into a gelatin-like mass that helps move waste throughout the intestinal tract.  However, since some psyllium crops are sprayed with the mentioned substances, it’s best to purchase this fiber source organic, so you can avoid health risks.

Lastly, when eating fiber-rich fruits, do so in moderation because these may contain a type of sugar called fructose, which can negatively impact your health when consumed in excess.

Take Note of These Low-Fiber Foods

Some foods have been promoted to be a notable fiber source, when in reality, they actually contain low amounts of this nutrient. As much as possible, limit or entirely avoid your consumption of these low-fiber foods:

White bread without nuts and seeds White rice, plain white pasta and crackers Refined hot cereals or cold cereals with less than a gram of fiber per serving
Pancakes or waffles made from white refined flour Fruit and vegetable juice with little or no pulp Fruit-flavored drinks and flavored waters

Meanwhile, there are foods that are low in fiber, but provide other exceptional nutrients. These include grass fed meat, free range poultry, raw dairy, eggs and wild-caught seafood. Take note of these nutrient-rich but low-fiber fruits and vegetables too:

Low-Fiber Fruits Low-Fiber Vegetables
Cantaloupe Carrots
Honeydew melon String beans
Watermelon Lettuce
Papaya (if ripe) Acorn squash without seeds
Peaches
Plums

These low-fiber foods contain other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that your body may benefit from, so make sure to still add them to your meals. Eating various fruits and vegetables greatly helps with balancing the amount of various nutrients (fiber included) in the body.

The Drawbacks of Eating Too Much Fiber

Believe it or not, there may be negative impacts linked to consuming too much fiber. Some side effects can occur if you increase your fiber intake very quickly, namely:

Bloating Abdominal pain
Flatulence Loose stools or diarrhea
Constipation Temporary weight gain
Intestinal blockage in people with Crohn’s disease Reduced blood sugar levels

If you or someone you know experiences nausea, vomiting, high-temperature fever or a complete inability to pass gas or stool after consuming fiber-rich foods or fiber supplements, contact a doctor immediately.

Are Fiber Supplements Worth It?

Fiber supplements may sometimes be recommended to help you add more fiber to your system. However, if you’re consuming a well-balanced, fiber-rich diet, then there may be little need for you to rely on these supplements. In fact, fiber supplements shouldn’t be considered alternatives to high-fiber foods.

Ideally, before taking fiber supplements, talk to your doctor first. If you have been given the go signal, drink at least 8 ounces of high-quality filtered water alongside the supplements. Generally, you can take these on a full or empty stomach. Don’t forget to drink more water during the day to prevent constipation, and avoid taking supplements before bedtime.

For people who were prescribed medicines because of certain conditions, it’s recommended that you take these at least an hour before taking fiber supplements, or between two to four hours after taking a fiber supplement. Fiber pills like psyllium husk supplements should be avoided altogether by people taking these medicines because of possible side effects:

Tricyclic antidepressants

Cholesterol-lowering medicines called bile acid sequestrants

Diabetes medications

Digoxin

Lithium

For Optimal Health and Well-Being, Consume Fiber-Rich Foods Today

Unless you consume more fiber than what your body actually needs, a high-fiber diet can be a win-win situation because of its well-researched links towards health improvement and against certain diseases. Purchasing fruits and vegetables high in fiber is a simple but potent way to improve your health at a fraction of the cost, without burning a hole in your pocket. Take note of the strategies above and strive to meet your recommended daily intake of fiber.

This article is shared by Nutrition Breakthroughs, maker of the effective calcium,
magnesium and vitamin D based sleep aid Sleep Minerals II.

Juicing vs Whole Fruits and Veggies: Which is Better?

Fresh Vegetable Juices

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Shared by Nutrition Breakthroughs, maker of the effective calcium and magnesium based sleep aid Sleep Minerals II.
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Fruits and vegetables are good for your body.

Some of them even help fight chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.

Interestingly, a method called “juicing” has become increasingly popular in recent years.

This involves extracting the nutritious juices from fresh fruits and vegetables.

Many people do this in order to “detox” or add more nutrients to their diets.

Supporters claim that juicing can improve nutrient absorption, while others say it strips away important nutrients like fiber.

This is a detailed review of juicing and its health effects, both good and bad.

What is Juicing?

Juicing is a process that extracts the juices from fresh fruits and vegetables.

This usually strips away most of the solid matter, including seeds and pulp, from whole fruits and vegetables.

The resulting liquid contains most of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants naturally present in the whole fruit or vegetable.

Juicing Methods

Juicing methods vary, from squeezing fruit by hand to the more commonly used motor-driven juicers.

These are two common types of juicers:

  • Centrifugal juicers: These juicers grind fruits and vegetables into pulp through a high-speed spinning action.
  • Cold-press juicers: Also called masticating juicers, these crush and press fruits and vegetables much more slowly to get as much juice as possible.

Cold-press juicers don’t produce heat, so they do not cause the breakdown of beneficial enzymes and nutrients that is thought to happen with centrifugal juicers.

Purpose of Juicing

Juicing is generally used for two different purposes:

  • For cleansing or detox: Solid food is eliminated and only juice is consumed as a way to cleanse your body of toxins. Juice cleanses range from 3 days to several weeks in length.
  • To supplement a normal diet: Fresh juice can be used as a handy supplement to your daily diet, increasing nutrient intake from fruits and vegetables that you wouldn’t otherwise consume.

Bottom Line: Juicing involves extracting and drinking the juice from fresh fruit and vegetables. Some people do this to “detox,” while others do it to supplement their current diet.

Juice is an Easy Way to Get Lots of Nutrients

Fresh Produce With Juicer

Many people don’t get enough nutrients from their diet alone.

Nutrient levels in the foods we eat are also much lower than they used to be.

This is largely due to processing methods and the long time it takes to get produce from the field to the supermarket.

Polluted environments and high stress levels can also increase our requirements for certain nutrients.

Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plant compounds that may protect against disease.

If you find it difficult to get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables into your diet each day, juicing can be a convenient way to increase your intake.

One study found that supplementing mixed fruit and vegetable juice over 14 weeks improved participants’ nutrient levels for beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and folate.

A review of 22 studies found that drinking juice made from fresh fruits and vegetables or blended powder concentrate improved folate and antioxidant levels, including beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E.

Bottom Line: If you struggle to eat enough fruits and vegetables each day, juicing is a convenient way to get a wide range of important nutrients.

Whole Produce Protects Against Disease, But Studies on Juice are Disappointing

There’s plenty of evidence linking whole fruits and vegetables to reduced risk of disease, but studies for fruit and vegetable juices are harder to find.

One review reported that the health benefits of fruits and vegetables may be due to antioxidants, rather than fiber. If this is true, then juice may provide comparable health benefits to whole produce.

However, there is only weak evidence that pure fruit and vegetable juices can help fight cancer. There is a lack of human data and other findings are inconsistent.

Nonetheless, other areas of health show more promise. For example, juices may reduce the risk of heart disease. Apple and pomegranate juices have been linked to reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Additionally, consuming fruit and vegetable juices in liquid form or blended concentrations may reduce homocysteine (an amino acid) levels and markers of oxidative stress, both of which are linked to improved heart health.

One large study found that the risk for Alzheimer’s disease was reduced among those who drank fruit and vegetable juices three or more times per week, compared with those who drank juices less than once per week.

The reduction in Alzheimer’s risk may be due to the high levels of polyphenols (plant chemicals)  in the juices. These are antioxidants found in plant foods, believed to protect brain cells.

Despite these results, more studies are needed to better understand the health effects of fruit and vegetable juices.

Bottom Line: Limited evidence is available to link fruit and vegetable juice to a reduced risk of diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

Apples

Fruits and Veggies Are Best Consumed Whole

Juicing advocates often claim that drinking juice is better than eating whole fruits and vegetables.

They justify this by saying that removing the fiber makes nutrients easier to absorb.

However, there isn’t any scientific research to support this.

You may actually need the fiber content of the fruit or vegetable to experience the plant’s full health benefits.

For example, important antioxidants that are naturally bound to plant fibers are lost in the juicing process. These may play an important role in the health benefits of whole fruits and vegetables.

In fact, up to 90% of fiber is removed during the juicing process, depending on the juicer. Some soluble fiber will remain, but the majority of insoluble fiber is removed.

Potential Health Benefits of Fiber

Higher fiber intakes have been associated with lower risks of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Studies have shown that increasing soluble fiber, in particular, may improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

One study compared whole apples to apple juice. It found that drinking clear apple juice increased LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) levels by 6.9%, compared to whole apples. This effect is thought to be due to the fiber content of whole apples.

An observational study showed an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in people who consumed fruit juices, whereas whole fruits were linked to a reduced risk.

People also tend to feel more full when they eat whole fruits, compared to when they drink the juice equivalent.

One study compared the effects of blending and juicing on the nutrient content of grapefruits. Results showed that blending, which retains more fiber, is a better technique for obtaining higher levels of beneficial plant compounds.

Should you add fiber to your juices?

The level of fiber in your juices will depend on what type of juicer you use, but some sources suggest adding leftover pulp to other foods or drinks to increase fiber intake.

Although this is better than throwing the fiber away, evidence suggests that re-adding fiber to juice doesn’t give you the same health benefits as simply eating whole fruits and vegetables.

Additionally, a study found that adding naturally occurring levels of fiber to juice did not enhance feelings of fullness.

Bottom Line: Eating whole fruit and vegetables is better for your health. Juicing makes you miss out on beneficial fiber and antioxidants.

Juicing For Weight Loss May be a Bad Idea

Many people use juicing as a way to lose weight.

Most juice “diets” involve consuming around 600–1,000 calories per day from juices only, resulting in a severe calorie deficit and fast weight loss.

However, this is very difficult to sustain for more than a few days.

While juice diets may help you lose weight in the short-term, such a severe calorie restriction can slow your metabolism in the long-term.

This is also likely to lead to nutrient deficiencies in the long-term, since juices lack many important nutrients.

Bottom Line: Most juicing diets involve severe calorie restriction, which is generally unsustainable in the long-term and can lead to a reduction in the amount of calories you burn.

Juices Should Not Replace Meals

Using juices as a meal replacement can be bad for your body.

This is because juice on its own is not nutritionally balanced, since it does not contain sufficient protein or fat.

Consuming enough protein throughout the day is necessary for muscle maintenance and long-term health.

Additionally, healthy fats are important for sustained energy, hormone balance and cell membranes. They may also provide the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

However, replacing one meal a day with juice is unlikely to cause harm, as long as the rest of your diet is more balanced.

You can make your juice more balanced by adding protein and good fats. Some good sources are whey protein, almond milk, avocados, Greek yogurt and peanut butter.

Bottom Line: Juices are nutritionally unbalanced because they do not contain adequate protein or fat. Adding protein and fat sources to your juices can help with this.

Fresh Kale

Juice Cleanses Are Not Necessary, and May be Harmful

Consuming 100% fruit juice has been associated with an increased risk of  metabolic syndrome, liver damage and obesity.

In addition, there is no evidence that your body needs to be detoxified by eliminating solid food.

Your body is designed to remove toxins on its own, using the liver and kidneys.

Furthermore, if you’re juicing with non-organic vegetables, you can end up consuming other toxins that come along with them, such as pesticides.

For individuals with kidney problems, a heavy consumption of juices rich in oxalate (oxalic acid found in foods like spinach, nuts, teas) has been linked to kidney failure.

More extreme juice cleanses are associated with negative side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, dizziness and fatigue.

If you take prescription medication, you should be aware of potential drug-nutrient interactions.

For example, large amounts of vitamin K found in green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach can interfere with blood thinners.

Bottom Line: There is no evidence that juice cleanses are necessary for detoxifying the body. Juicing may harm people who have kidney problems or take certain medications.

Fruit Juice Contains High Amounts of Sugar

Pomegranate Juice and Arils

What you put in your juice can also make a big difference, and fruits contain much more sugar and calories than vegetables.

Consuming too much fructose, one of the naturally occurring sugars in fruit, has been linked to high blood sugar, weight gain and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

About 3.9 oz (114 ml) of 100% apple juice contains zero grams of fiber, but packs 13 grams of sugar and 60 calories.

Similarly, 100% grape juice has 20 grams of sugar in a serving of 3.9 oz (114 ml).

To keep the sugar content of your juices low, you can juice the vegetables and then add a small piece of fruit if you want more sweetness.

Bottom Line: Juices based mainly on fruit are much higher in sugar and calories compared to vegetable-based juices.

Take Home Message

Fresh juices contain important vitamins and antioxidants that can benefit your health.

However, fruits and vegetables are still the healthiest and most nutritious when consumed whole.

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This health news is shared by Nutrition Breakthroughs, a publisher of nutrition articles and supplier of effective natural remedies since 2002. Nutrition Breakthroughs makes the original calcium and magnesium based sleep aid Sleep Minerals II.

Article Source: https://authoritynutrition.com/juicing-good-or-bad/