Fiber: The Basics

fiber broccoli lisa tsakos

To function normally, the large intestine requires two nutrients: fiber and water. Fiber is one of the most neglected nutrients. As a result, we live in a constipated society. Most diets provide only 12 g of fiber. No wonder the average transit time is one week! For good health, the colon requires 25-50 g of fiber daily. Early signs of unhealthy conditions in the bowels include bloating and gas, dark, dry stool and painful defecation, migraine headaches, and acne on the chin, chest or back. Besides being an effective antidote to constipation (by the way, being "regular" means a daily bowel movement), eating high-fiber foods is a low-cal way to fill your tummy.

Here are some top picks for fiber:

Lentil soup, 1 cup
14 g
Chili, vegetarian
11 g
Figs, dried, 3
10 g
Spinach, 1 cup, cooked
7 g
Multigrain bread, 2 slices
6.5 g
Papaya, dried, 2 slices
6.4 g
Chickpeas, ½ cup, cooked
6 g
Black beans, ½ cup
6 g
Whole wheat pasta, 1 cup, cooked
5.6 g
Kiwi, 1 medium
5 g
Raspberries, ½ cup, fresh/frozen
4.6 g
Broccoli, ½ cup, raw
4 g
Brown or wild rice, 1 cup, cooked
4 g
Oatmeal cereal, 1 cup, cooked
3.5 g
Apple, medium with skin
3.5 g
Almonds, dried, 1/4 cup
3.5 g
Bran muffin, medium
3 g

Many of us assume our fiber intake is adequate if bread and pasta are part of our diet, but the refining of grains strips away most of the fiber - and most vitamins and minerals too. The whole grain – bran, germ, and endosperm – provides much more than fiber, including B vitamins, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. White bread has only 7% of the vitamin E and 13% of vitamin B6 found in 100% whole wheat bread. Many breads list enriched white flour as the first ingredient and add fiber (like bran or flax). Read labels to ensure your bread is made from the whole grain. This should be listed as the first ingredient.

If your body functions best on a low-starch menu, supplemental fiber is available in many forms. The best option is ground flax seed (or flax meal). One to four tablespoons sprinkled into hot or cold cereal, over salad, in a smoothie, or even just mixed with water will not only gently ‘exfoliate’ your colon wall and provide bulk for stool, but the soluble fibers bind to cholesterol, fat, xenoestrogens, and other toxins in your digestive system, removing them with your stool. Another option is psyllium husks or hulls. Ground flax and psyllium can be found at most drug and health food stores.

Liquid chlorophyll added to drinking water helps to loosen up the muscles of your colon. Chlorophyll is rich in magnesium, a natural and safe muscle relaxant. Add one teaspoon to a glass of water.

Remember to introduce fiber into your diet gradually. Too much at once may cause bloating and discomfort.

For some facts on fiber, Click Here.


By Lisa Tsakos| July 01, 2008
Categories:  Eat

About the Author

Lisa Tsakos

Lisa Tsakos

Lisa has been in her own practice for over 15 years and specializes in weight management. She teaches natural nutrition in both corporate and educational environments and is a shining example of someone who practices what she teaches.

Lisa is a nutritionist and educator specializing in weight management. After losing weight several years ago through a more natural diet and by improving her digestion, she committed to sharing her new-found knowledge and returned to school to study nutrition. Over the past decade, her Nu-Vitality Weight Program has helped employees at numerous corporations lose thousands of pounds. In addition, Lisa regularly consults for groups and individuals with unique nutritional needs such as police officers and athletes. Lisa has been featured on the Discovery Channel, numerous radio programs and is a contributor to various publications. Additionally, she teaches nutrition at multiple post-secondary schools, has taught natural food cooking workshops, and authored two books.

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