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Fiber helps with digestion and a feeling of fullness



COURTESY: JENN DAVENPORT PHOTOGRAPHY - Blueberries are an excellent source of dietary fiber.Dietary fiber doesn’t sound sexy. When you think of ingesting dietary fiber, you might imagine chewing on a slice of tree bark, but fiber is an essential part of our diet.

According to Mayoclinic.org, “dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes the parts of plant foods your body can’t digest or absorb.” It passes, the website says, “relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine and colon.”

You can find fiber in produce, legumes and whole grains.

Jamie Lee, a private practice dietitian in the Portland area, knows both how fiber benefits the body and how it can be blended into some tasty dishes.

“I’m sure there are, maybe, images of chewing on raw veggie sticks all day,” Lee said, referring to fiber. “A lot of whole foods have fiber. A lot of our favorite dishes are fiber rich, like a hearty lentil soup or chili — there are certainly a lot of foods that have fiber in them.”

Lee, with HealthFull Nutrition (healthfullnutrition.com), said there are many health benefits to fiber, including bowel regularity. According to Lee, fiber can also stabilize blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol.

Fiber, Lee said, can reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. “For someone with diabetes, fiber can be a really great tool to stabilize blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of glucose.

“Another thing that people don’t always think about with fiber is that it promotes a feeling of fullness,” she added. “We can only eat so many bowls of beans and veggies before we can’t eat anymore.”

For some, however, fiber may not be the best option.

“Some people experience gastric distress,” she said, noting some fermentable fibers can cause irritable bowel syndrome symptoms to get worse. Also, some medications don’t mix with fiber. In these cases, it’s best to get advice from your doctor.

Fruits can be high in fiber. “Raspberries are particularly high (in fiber). A cup of raspberries has around 8 grams of fiber,” Lee said. “Even blackberries are high when they’re in season.”

You can start your morning, or enjoy dessert, with a good dose of fiber. According to Lee, figs, poached pears and some cereals (whole grain) contain fiber. To boost fiber content, she said wheat bran and oat bran can be added to the breakfast meal.

If you can’t do without your pancakes and waffles, Lee suggests you replace a third of your all-purpose flour with almond or nut flour to boost fiber content. For toast, Lee recommends fresh fruit in place of jams or jellies. The idea, she said, is “finding fun ways to add it (fiber) in to your everyday favorites.”

For dinner, beans (containing fiber) are an easy choice. You can blend black beans and garbanzo beans with your favorite recipe.

Nutrition labels can be a huge help finding information on dietary fiber. In her practice, Lee recommends women get 25 grams of fiber daily; for men she recommends about 38 grams.

If you still think of dietary fiber in the same way you think of cardboard, Lee maintained, “Fiber certainly can fit into anyone’s lifestyle.”

COURTESY: EATWITHZEST.COM - Spiralized Veggie Noodle Pad Thai.

SPIRALIZED VEGGIE NOODLE PAD THAI

Sauce Ingredients:

1/4 cup tahini

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup tamari

2 tablespoons agave nectar

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Other Ingredients:

3 medium zucchinis, spiralized

3 large carrots, spiralized

1 cup shredded red cabbage

1 package soba noodles

1/2 cup crushed peanuts

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

To Prepare:

Place all sauce ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.

Cook soba noodles according to package.

Toss all spiralized veggies and cooked noodles in sauce, then top with peanuts and cilantro.

If you like spicy, add some sriracha.

- Courtesy Zest Nutrition (eatwithzest.com)


Scott Keith is a freelance writer with the Portland Tribune and Pamplin Media Group. If you have a health tip, or a story idea, contact Scott at: [email protected]com.

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