Bringing Wellness Full Circle

Posts tagged ‘Digestion’

Got Fiber?

I know we talk about fiber a lot, but our need for fiber will never go away… But what is it really, and what does it do for us?

By definition, fiber is the indigestible part of fruits, seeds, vegetables, whole grains and other edible plants. And here are four basic benefits of eating enough fiber:

  1. Reduces Inflammation: A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical a Nutrition found that c-reactive protein (CRP) – a marker of inflammation and a predictor of future heart disease and diabetes – was inversely related to dietary fiber. As fiber consumption goes up, harmful inflammation goes down.
  2. Promotes a Healthy Weight: Not only does soluble fiber prevent the absorption of fat, but it also helps you to feel full longer. Less hunger means fewer calories… and therefore fewer pounds. Researchers have calculated that if Americans doubled their fiber intake, they could cut 100 calories from their diet a day – which equates to 10 pounds of yearly weight gain!
  3. Improves Gastrointestinal Health: Soluble fiber is the favorite “food” of the healthy bacteria that live in your digestive tract. And a healthy tummy is a happy tummy! Soluble fiber can help improve digestion, enhance nutrient absorption and provide significant relief of IBS symptoms.
  4. Improves Blood Sugar Balance: Soluble fiber traps carbohydrates, slowing their digestion and absorption and aiding in blood sugar balance. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that a high-sugar, low-fiber diet more than doubles women’s risk of Type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes.

Let’s talk about the healthy weight benefit. How do fiber and fiber-rich foods control hunger and increase the  feeling of fullness?  Well, this happens partly because fiber-rich foods take up a large volume in the stomach, and partly because they promote and prolong CCK (cholecystokinin) to make you feel full longer–appetite is reduced directly by the bulk of the fiber and indirectly through the delayed emptying of the stomach and the release of brain and gastrointestinal-tract hormones which signal satiety. Pretty cool, isn’t it? Also, fiber is a natural way to reduce the body’s absorption of fat and sugar, as it slows down the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, allowing glucose to be burned more efficiently instead of being stored quickly as fat. The higher the fiber content of a single food or a meal in total, the harder and longer the body has to work to digest it, which is a weight loss advantage in three ways: (1) the body burns more calories just digesting your food, (2) you stay full longer, and (3) your appetite is reduced because as the absorption slows down, so does the rate at which the blood sugar rises and falls.

So fiber helps you lose weight and/or maintain your ideal weight, but there is so many more benefits of fiber! It also helps you maintain  healthy cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart attack and developing diabetes, promotes bowel regularity and fecal energy excretion: calories are removed with the bowel movement (fiber flush effect) and improves immunity.

How much fiber should you eat?  You know it!  Shoot for 35 g daily! So eat those fresh vegetables and yummy fruits and beans and grains!

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Gut

We all basically get that our gut is part of our digestive system. But I am telling you, there is so much more to your gut than that. It’s crazy smart, crazy important, crazy at the center of everything! Don’t believe me? Read on…

5 quick and critical reasons why you should consider respecting your gut more

1. It Controls Your Moods: It really, really does!

Your body needs the nutrients it extracts from the food you eat in order to produce the energy it needs to sustain life and do the things you do every day. But the other reason it needs those nutrients is so that it can be able to produce the right type and amount of hormones it needs to ensure your quality of life. And your hormones, they control EVERYTHING in your body. They are like a finely tuned orchestra playing the “Four Seasons” by Vivaldi; If one flute goes out of tune – you’d know all about it. The whole symphony sounds different… next, the base gets out of timing, because the flute confused it. Before you know it, the whole thing sounds like a choir of cats… The poorer your food is nutritionally, the poorer the hormonal balance of your body, and then the quality of your life plummets, and then your mood become more unstable and unpleasant.

Memory not quite as good as it used to be? You more than likely need more dopamine.  Not in the mood for some lovin’? Your testosterone levels may be shot. Feeling snappy and unsafe? Your serotonin levels need to go up.  Feeling ‘ugly’ and unworthy as a woman? Could be your estrogen and progesterone levels are not balanced.  The list goes on and on. Bottom line – if you eat poor nutrition foods – you get poor quality moods (that actually rhymes…).

2. It Controls Your Immune System: for real!

Over 60% of your immune system is contained in your gut. Your good and bad bacteria play a huge role in the balance of your gut flora. If there isn’t enough good bacteria, you’re not likely to get the most out of the food you eat. And remember, everything in your body is fueled by what you eat. And if the good to bad bacteria ratio is out of whack (and most of western society has that problem) then your immune system goes down. You start to get sick often. And no amount of vitamin C or Echinacea is able to fight that ‘flu’ feeling that never seems to go away.  Maybe you could find pro-biotic (ideally pre-biotic) supplements.

3. It Controls Your Aches & Pains: who would have thought?

What you eat directly affects how your body feels. Food allergies and intolerances, although being two different things, are both created by poor gut flora. And they both manifest n various aches and pains throughout your body: joint pains, bloating, headaches, gas, muscle aches, foggy thought processes—any of those can be caused by an intolerance to a food.  The most common culprits are gluten, lactose, and nuts, but food intolerances range as far into the bizarre as asparagus. If you have suspicions of food intolerances or allergies – try isolate the offending food, then back it up with a medical test. Allergies or intolerances, when chronic, can lower your immune system, which causes stress to your physiology, which lowers gut efficiency, which exasperates the allergy or intolerance and so on…

4. It Controls Your Sleep:

What food you eat, when you eat it, and how well it is digested by your gut will all affect the quality of your sleep.  If you eat less than 30 minutes before you go to sleep, you’re loading your body with the extra task of digestion. So now on top of all the repair work it has to do to all other cells in your body, your gut has to take energy to do digestion too.  The result is that you wake up not as invigorated as you should.  What food you eat and how well it is digested will obviously affect your sleep too. Anything that requires extra effort by your gut often causes insomnia or irregular sleep.

5. It Controls Your Focus:

Just by creating a better gut environment – you can get so much more done. This really works in two main ways. (1) If you eat too much, your body has to divert energy to the digestive process – which means taking energy from everything else – including your focus.  (2) If you eat the wrong stuff, no energy for what is ahead of you.

Have you thanked your gut today?

Fiber

I know we have talked about fiber before, but the bottom line is this: your need for fiber will never go away.

Here are four basic benefits of eating enough fiber that you might have not thought about:

  1. Reduces Inflammation: A study published in the American Journal of Clinical a Nutrition found that c-reactive protein (CRP) – a marker of inflammation and a predictor of future heart disease and diabetes – was inversely related to dietary fiber. As fiber consumption goes up, harmful inflammation goes down.
  2. Promotes a Healthy Weight: Not only does soluble fiber prevent the absorption of fat, but it also helps you to feel full longer. Appetite is reduced directly by the bulk of the fiber and indirectly through the delayed emptying of the stomach and the release of brain and gastrointestinal-tract hormones which signal satiety.Less hunger means fewer calories… and therefore fewer pounds. Researchers have calculated that if Americans doubled their fiber intake, they could cut 100 calories from their diet a day – which equates to 10 pounds of yearly weight gain!
  3. Improves Gastrointestinal Health: Soluble fiber is the favorite “food” of the healthy bacteria that live in your digestive tract. And a healthy tummy is a happy tummy! Soluble fiber can help improve digestion, enhance nutrient absorption and provide significant relief of IBS symptoms.
  4. Improves Blood Sugar Balance: Soluble fiber traps carbohydrates, slowing their digestion and absorption and aiding in blood sugar balance. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that a high-sugar, low-fiber diet more than doubles women’s risk of Type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes.

Bottom line: fiber helps us lose weight, maintain our ideal weight and healthy cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart attack and developing diabetes, promotes bowel regularity and is a natural way to reduce the body’s absorption of fat and sugar.  So go ahead, eat those whole grains, beans, vegetable and fruits!

 

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