If you utilized “The Stroke Risk Assessment Tool” you noticed that 3 of the risk factors for stroke are cholesterol, diabetes and overweight/obesity. This article will show you how 3 simple steps to increase your fiber intake can help you lower each one of these risk factors.
We’ve all been told that we need to increase the amount of fiber in our diets. The typical American diet has somewhere between 5-14 grams of fiber per day. In 2002, the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences Research Council issued Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for fiber. For males between the ages of 19-50 it is 38 grams of fiber per day. For women in the same age category it is 25 grams of fiber per day. If you’re age is greater than 50, then the amount of fiber decreases to 30 grams for men and 21 grams for women.
At best the typical American is only getting 50% of the needed fiber in their diet. Now, you might be thinking why would a bunch of scientists want to spend their time and your tax dollars worrying about how much we poop? The simple answer is your health.
4 Health Benefits Related to Proper Fiber Intake!
Proper fiber intake may reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity in addition to being beneficial for treating or preventing constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticulosis. Proper fiber intake may reduce 3 of the 8 controllable risk factors for stroke while still benefiting you in other health areas. Pretty impressive!
What is Dietary Fiber?
Dietary fiber is found only in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. It is that portion of the plant that is not digested by the enzymes in your intestinal tract. This insoluble fiber binds water to make your stools softer and bulkier.
Typically, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables contain just as much fiber as raw ones. However, some types of refining processes may reduce the fiber content. Current food labeling requires the amount of dietary fiber to be listed. It is listed just below the “Total Carbohydrate” portion of the Nutrition Facts section of the product label. For a manufacturer to make fiber claims it must meet the following guidelines:
3 Simple Steps to Increasing Your Fiber Intake!
When most people hear the concept of increasing their fiber intake they immediately think about eating multigrain breads and a lot of lettuce. This is not what their culinary taste buds are going to get excited about. Plus, it is not the most effective way to increase your fiber intake.
The following 3 steps are designed to be realistic so that everyone can achieve the goal of increased fiber intake and be able to do it long term. These steps will help improve your overall health and have the potential to reduce the risk factors for stroke.
Step 1- Examine Your Diet. You like bread, cereal, pasta, rice, and maybe a vegetable. By making some simple changes you could drastically increase your fiber intake while still enjoying your same meals. This is a recipe for improved health while lowering the risk factors for stroke.
Step 2- Add Fiber. There are a couple of simple ways to add fiber to your daily intake of food without adding loads of calories. This helps control your weight which is one of the risk factors for stroke.
By incorporating some of the changes and additions we’ve looked at you could see the following improvements in your overall fiber intake:
Just by making some simple changes in your food selection you could go from 9-15 grams of fiber to 30-61 grams of fiber. Just think of the impact this would have on your overall health while you are reducing the risk factors for stroke.
Step 3 – Take a Supplement. There is some controversy in the use of fiber supplements so I add this step with caution. If you are not willing to make the simple changes I have outlined in Steps 1 & 2, then talk with a qualified physician who can give you some guidance in this area. Typically, one tablespoon of an over-the-counter fiber supplement has 15 grams of fiber. Most people take their supplement at night after their evening meal.
Supplements are not meant to be used as a laxative which is where most of the controversy occurs. They are only meant to be used as a supplement for those who are not getting the proper amount of fiber from their diet.
Two Important Notes!
Proper water intake is fundamental to this whole process of fiber intake. On the one hand, fiber can be extremely useful in preventing constipation. But, fiber taken in the absence of adequate water intake can also be binding to cause severe constipation. Proper water intake is the number one key to improving your overall health and wellness. Bringing in the proper amount of fiber with the proper amount of water will be a benefit to helping you achieve a higher level of wellness and lowering your risk factors for stroke.
Due to its complexity, laboratory technicians have not yet been able to ascertain the exact fiber content of many foods. Because of this, you may find discrepancies from one fiber source to another. Add to the fact that there are varying sizes of fruits and vegetable, as well as growing conditions, and you can begin to understand why there might be some variations in the number of grams of fiber listed for different food items.
If you are not used to eating high fiber foods then make your changes gradually to allow your body to adjust. Anyone with a chronic disease should always consult their physician first before they alter their diet.
As you can see from this article, increasing your fiber intake can have a positive effect on reducing three of the risk factors for stroke. The addition of fiber to your diet can have a profound effect on your overall health and wellness. With guidance, and using some simple steps to incorporate more fiber into your diet, you can get Randy from American Idol to say, “It’s the Bomb, Baby!”
Until next time, may we both age youthfully!
P.S. To help you implement this information about stroke prevention I would recommend the following articles:
The information contained in this website and posted articles are for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam. The information contained in this website and posted articles has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.