By Rob Holston
February 01, 2006
Today I'll investigate an often ignored aspect of the Standard American Diet (SAD), known as fiber. Fiber is what makes an apple hard. Apples have fiber and apple juice does not. If you find an apple juice with fiber, drink it, but Americans seem to prefer juice that sparkles like vintage wine. This is one reason why SAD is sad. All major health organizations recommend a minimum daily fiber intake for adults at between 25 and 35 grams/day. These organizations include the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, American Dietetic Association, Food and Drug Administration, National Cancer Institute, Surgeon Generals Report on Nutrition/Health. For children, most experts agree that age+ 5gm/day is needed. The 25-35 gm/day for adults is seen as minimal for good health NOT optimal.
The sad truth about SAD is that the average American adult is now getting only 11 gm/day. It is interesting to note that the World Health Organization has determined in a study, now a couple of decades old that the average daily intake of fiber for adults living in "third world countries" is over 60 gm/day. These are countries where the leading disease killing Americans, i.e. heart disease, cancer & diabetes. are little known and in some cases so rare they don't even have a name for the disease in the native tongue of that country.
Although it is important try to convince the public that increasing their fiber intake dramatically will stave off the onset of these aforementioned disease states and reverse the advancement of these disease states in many cases.
For those of you already convinced, let's jump into "table talk". What can you do the next time you have a meal or a snack that will allow you to get up to 30 gm/day of fiber. For the sake of not getting too detailed, natural fiber sources usually have both soluble and insoluble fiber, but in our present discussion I'll refer to one number that is the total of soluble and insoluble.
There are literally 100's of studies to suggest what your grandma always told you. Eat your fruits & veggies.
To put it simply I'll list one for each of the disease states I have previously mentioned. "Our results suggest an inverse association between fiber intake and MI.(heart attack)." (JAMA, 1996; 275: 447-451). "We found and inverse relation between dietary-fiber intake and total cancer mortality." i.e. the more fiber the less cancer. (The Lancet, Sept. 4, 1982; 518-521) "Soluble dietary fibers are associated with health benefits for diabetics. A flexible approach for inclusion of dietary fiber in diabetics is recommended." (Diabetes Education, 1989.)
For me, I start most days with
cereal 3-5 gm, depending on what's handy and what I feel like.
(Hint: only keep healthy cereals on hand. That means high fiber
with few or no additives, little or no sugar and no food dye).
To my cereal I'll add dates, 3 gm; raisins 3 gm; sometimes prunes
3 gms and usually all three. In this way my breakfast starts
me off with as many or more gms of fiber than most Americans
get in their whole day. Well that's all for now. I've got to
go eat. Thanks for reading "How you doing?"
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