Wellness Wednesday…Fiber UP this Fall

127965Eat more fiber! I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but do you really know why fiber is good for your health?  Let’s look at the facts of fiber and find some tasty foods to help you “Fiber Up” this fall.

Dietary fibers are indigestible complex carbohydrates found in the walls of plant cells. Although they are considered carbohydrates, fiber is resistant to the body’s digestive enzymes. Because of this, fiber supplies no nutrients or calories. When you’re determining the amount of carbohydrate in a certain food, you can actually subtract the grams of fiber from the total grams of carbohydrate to get an accurate carbohydrate count.

Types of Fiber

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, and barley.

Assortment of High Fiber Foods

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be beneficial for those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Dark leafy greens, whole wheat foods, seeds, nuts, and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes, are good sources of insoluble fiber.

Most plant-based foods, such as oatmeal and beans, contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. However, the amount of each type varies in different plant foods. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of high-fiber foods.


Positive Effects of Fiber

So, now that we know about the different types of fiber, let’s look at the positive health benefits in a little more detail.

Fiber Lowers Cholesterol

Soluble fiber decreases blood cholesterol levels, and therefore, reduces the risk of heart disease. Research indicates that soluble fiber binds to bile acids in the intestines, causing them to be eliminated. Since fewer bile acids are available, the liver draws cholesterol, primarily LDL or the “bad” cholesterol, from the bloodstream to make more. This reduces the level of blood cholesterol. Research also indicates that fiber soluble fiber may lower blood pressure and inflammation as well.

Fiber Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels

In people with diabetes, fiber – particularly soluble fiber – helps to stabilize blood sugar levels by delaying stomach emptying. This slows the rate of sugar absorption and helps improve blood sugar levels.   A healthy diet that included insoluble fiber may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.


Fiber Normalizes Bowel Movements

If you’re like most people, when you hear the word “fiber,” you automatically think poop. And, you’re right! Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it. A bulky stool is easier to pass, decreasing your chance of constipation. If you have loose, watery stools, fiber may help to solidify the stool because it absorbs water and adds bulk.

If you decide to increase your fiber intake, make sure you are also drinking enough water. This is crucial for normal bowel movements and to prevent constipation.


Fiber Aids in Achieving Healthy Weight


High-fiber foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods; thus, increasing satiety (the feeling of fullness). This is achieved by adding bulk to food without adding calories. Remember, your body cannot digest fiber, so it doesn’t provide calories or nutrients to your diet.


Fiber Helps Maintain a Healthy Colon

Fiber, particularly insoluble fiber, may decrease the risk of colon cancer by increasing the speed of elimination. This reduces the amount of time harmful carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) are in contact with the intestinal cells. Also, stool contents, including carcinogens, become diluted and less harmful. It has also been discovered that some fiber ferments in the colon, while other does not. Researchers are looking into how this may play a role in preventing diseases of the colon as well.

In addition to colon cancer, fiber may also reduce the risk of diverticulosis and hemorrhoids. It reduces the risk of diverticulosis by decreasing the pressure within the colon. And, it reduces the risk of hemorrhoids by decreasing the straining associated with stool elimination.



Recommended Intake

Now that we know why it’s so important to get enough fiber, how much of it do we really need? The Institute of Medicine has set the following guidelines:

Adults Age 51 and Oldereat-your-fiber

Men: 30 grams

Women: 21 grams


Adults Age 50 and Younger

Men: 38 grams

Women: 25 grams



Fiber Supplements

Whole foods, rather than fiber supplements, are generally better. Fiber supplements – such as Metamucil, Citrucel, and FiberCon – don’t provide the same variety of fibers, vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients that foods do. Originally promoted for reducing constipation, many of these supplements now also advertise the benefits for reducing blood cholesterol levels. While these benefits from fiber supplements are attractive, the high cost and lack of nutritional value make them a second choice to a good diet. Most fiber pills actually contain little fiber.spin_prod_ec_770712501

Some people may find that they still need a fiber supplement if dietary changes aren’t sufficient, or it they have certain medical conditions. These would include things like constipation, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome. Check with your doctor, though, before taking any fiber supplement.



Side Effects

Cramping, diarrhea, and intestinal gas are some of the problems associated with a sudden increase in fiber intake. Gradually increasing your fiber over a period of six to eight weeks can minimize undesirable effects. These side effects usually disappear within a few days after the body has become accustomed to a high-fiber diet. Also, increasing your water intake can help reduce negative side effects. An excessive fiber intake can cause fiber to bind with certain essential minerals and cause them to be eliminated instead of absorbed into the bloodstream. While it is difficult to receive too much fiber from foods, an overuse of supplements could result in an extremely high and dangerous level of fiber intake.


Tips to “Fiber-Up” this Fall

Need some ideas for adding more fiber into your meals and snacks?  Try these suggestions:getty_rm_photo_of_whole_grain_breakfast_nutrition

Jump-start your day. For breakfast choose oatmeal or a high-fiber breakfast cereal — 5 or more grams of fiber a serving. Opt for cereals with “whole grain,” “bran” or “fiber” in the name.  Add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran, chia seeds, or flax seeds to your oatmeal or favorite cereal.


Switch to whole grains. Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. Look for breads that list whole wheat, whole-wheat flour or another whole grain as the first ingredient on the label and have least 2 grams of dietary fiber a serving. Experiment with brown rice, wild rice, barley, whole-wheat pasta and bulgur wheat.


Bulk up baked goods. Substitute whole-grain flour for half or all of the white flour when baking. Try adding crushed bran cereal, unprocessed wheat bran or uncooked oatmeal to muffins, cakes and cookies.



Lean on legumes. Beans, peas and lentils are excellent sources of fiber. Add kidney beans to canned soup or a green salad. Or make nachos with refried black beans, lots of fresh veggies, whole-wheat tortilla chips and salsa.


Eat more fruit and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals. Try to eat five or more servings daily.


Make snacks count. Fresh fruits, raw vegetables, low-fat popcorn and whole-grain crackers are all good choices. An occasional handful of nuts or dried fruits also is a healthy, high-fiber snack — although be aware that nuts and dried fruits are high in calories.



Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!












Wellness Wednesday…Boomers Back to School, Lesson 5


Drinking water


Question of the day…have you been in the bathroom a lot this past week?  If so, I hope it’s because you increased your water intake since our last Wellness Wednesday article. As we learned last week, water is so important for a lot of reasons. Drinking plain water is best, but you can also get water from the foods you eat. Both fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water, and that leads us right into our discussion for today.

Today is the final lesson in our Back-to-School series.  As you’ll see, I’ve combined action 5 and 6 from our list.   Just as a reminder, our 6 key actions are listed below.

6 Actions to Get YOUR Health Back on Track

  1. Get 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 5 days per week.
  2. Perform strength-training exercises 2 to 3 days per week.
  3. Eat a healthy breakfast every day.
  4. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water each day.
  5. Eat 3 cups of veggies each day.
  6. Eat 2 fruits each day.


Today we’re going to talk about actions #5 and #6:

Eat 3 cups of veggies and 2 fruits each day!


We all know that fruits and vegetables are “good for you.” Believe it or not, eating them can help reduce stress, increase attentiveness, reduce cravings, and lose weight. Let’s look at some interesting reasons why we want to include these foods in our diet each day.


Reason #1 : The Chew Factor

Think about the last time you ate some carrots or an apple. It took you time to chew these foods. Right? Studies have shown that the act of chewing could have beneficial effects on the nervous system. In addition, increased cortisol (a stress hormone) productions, faster heart rates, and increased attentiveness were all linked to increased chewing.

Fresh carrots

It also appears that the more you chew, the better you digest your foods. When you eat foods like fruits and veggies, these foods usually stay in your mouth longer because they take longer to chew. This does a couple things. First, it stimulates your saliva which lubricates the esophagus and the chewed food in the digestive tract. It also stimulates the taste receptors in the mouth, which in turn triggers the hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the stomach. This helps because the HCl in the stomach is responsible for processing hard-to-digest proteins, like casein in dairy and gluten in wheat.

Sit down to a meal with fruits and veggies and chew your way to better digestion!


Reason #2: Your Fight Against Heart Disease


Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, and fruits and vegetables can help you fight off this scary disease. As you’ve probably heard, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is considered the “bad” cholesterol and is connected with the disease. Let’s look at how cholesterol works and how fruits and veggies help.


Cholesterol becomes “bad” through a process called oxidation. To understand oxidation a little better, think of a piece of metal that has become rusted. The rust has formed because the piece of metal has gone though oxidation. It’s not a good thing. Although the body doesn’t exactly rust on the inside, you get the picture.  It’s not something you want going on in there.



Fruits and vegetables are the number one source of antioxidants in the diet, and they work to neutralize the process of oxidation. When you don’t get enough fruits and vegetables, antioxidant levels crash, allowing the fats in the blood to oxidize. Low vegetable consumption is directly linked to the oxidation of LDL and, ultimately, high cholesterol and heart disease.


Major protective phytonutrients and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, including flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin C, and vitamin E, have been shown to reduce heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and some cancers.


Reason #3: Veggies for Weight loss

fork-fruit-vegetables-jan16Vegetables are extremely low in calories. A cup of veggies averages about 50 calories. In comparison, a cup of nuts or seeds can have up to 750 calories. That’s a big difference, and the case for vegetables gets even better yet. The body uses almost the same amount of energy to chew and digest vegetables as it receives from them. The net result is that vegetables carry a very small caloric load, and some people even refer to them as a “free food.”


Vegetables typically contain both carbohydrates and protein, and they are very low in fat. They’re also loaded with fibrous cellulose, which helps the digestive system, bowel movements, and elimination of toxins. Breaking down the cellulose fibers in vegetables takes time, which allows the carbohydrates to be released slowly. This helps keep the blood sugar stable.


fruit-salad-11289323714od5Fruits are also important for weight loss because they contain beneficial vitamins and minerals that keep your body performing at its best. You do need to be careful when you consume fruit because of the sugar that’s in it. This is why I recommend only eating 2 servings of fruit each day.


A cup of pineapple chunks, for example, contains 16 grams of sugar and a cup of watermelon contains 17 grams. You can see how a large fruit salad could easily give you more sugar than you’re looking for. Don’t give up a fruit salad, though. They’re delicious. Just be mindful of your portions and don’t over-do.


Reason #4: Get the Vitamins YOUR Body Needs

As I like to say, your body is just a giant science experiment with chemical reactions going on inside all the time. Your body can do marvelous things, but there are some vitamins your body can’t make. That’s why it’s so important to get them from foods, especially fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and veggies contain both water- and fat-soluble vitamins. That simply means that a vitamin dissolves and gets transported or stored in the body in either water or fat.


Water-soluble vitamins you find in fruits and vegetables include B vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, biotin, and choline, as well as Vitamin C. (If you’re wondering about B12, it’s actually only found in meats, so fruits and veggies are not a good source.) Because these vitamins dissolve in water, they’re not stored in the body. Basically, whatever you don’t use, you pee out. Since they’re not stored, though, you need to make sure to replenish these vitamins each day.

Vegetables are also a rich source of fat-soluble vitamins A and K, and some vitamin E. These act a little different in that they can be stored in the body; however, consuming these vitamins each day is still important for overall health.


In Conclusion:

I hope this Back-to-School series has helped you get back into a healthy routine since summer has ended. I know it can be tough to get back on track. I’d love to hear how you’re doing and encourage you to keep striving for your BEST health yet!!!!

Ding, Ding, Ding….Class Dismissed


Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!



Wellness Wednesday…Boomers Back to School, Lesson 4




Wednesday homework check…what did you eat for breakfast today? Was it a complete meal with protein, carbs, and fat? I hope you’ve found a tasty way to start your day.

Now that Labor Day is behind us, summer is officially over and the school year is well underway. Our Back-to-School series contains six lessons that are aimed to get your health back on track after the summer break. Today we’re continuing with lesson 4 of the series. As a refresher, take a look at the 6 key actions to get back to better health.


6 Actions to Get YOUR Health Back on Track

  1. Get 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 5 days per week.
  2. Perform strength-training exercises 2 to 3 days per week.
  3. Eat a healthy breakfast every day.
  4. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water each day.
  5. Eat 3 cups of veggies each day.
  6. Eat 2 fruits each day.


Today we’re going to talk about action #4:

Drink 6 to 8 Glasses of Water Each Day

water_wellness_wednesdayWater is the most important nutrient in your diet, and a lot of people don’t even realize they aren’t getting enough. Think about it…the average human body is about 60% water. That means for a 150 lb woman, 90 lbs of her body is water. That’s a lot of weight when you really think about it. Calculate your own water weight, and you’ll be shocked at how much water YOU are.

Water is important for so many reasons. Here are six reasons to make sure you’re drinking enough water every day.


Drinking Water Helps Maintain the Balance of Body Fluids

Body fluids play an important role in your overall health. They function in a variety of ways; including, digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature.


Water Can Help Control Calories

While water is not the “magic” when it comes to weight loss, substituting it for higher calorie beverages can certainly help. It also helps if you eat foods with a high water content. Typically, water-filled foods are healthier and more filling. They also tend to look larger. This higher volume of food requires more chewing and is absorbed more slowly by the body, which helps you feel full. Water-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, oatmeal, and beanswater


Water Helps Keep Skin Looking Good

Your skin consists of a lot of water, and it acts as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss. If you don’t drink enough water, dehydration can make your skin look dry and wrinkled. The good news is… this can be reversed and improved with proper hydration. While drinking more water might not make all your wrinkles go away, it will help to keep your skin looking fresh and vibrant.


Water Helps Energize Musclesefa2a13f82f72b7af1d21a926fa4dbd1

If you’ve ever experiences muscle fatigue after exercising, it might be because you didn’t drink enough water. Cells that can’t maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes shrivel, which can result in muscle fatigue.

Drinking enough fluids is especially important when you exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that people drink about 17 ounces of fluid about 2 hours before they exercise. Then, during exercise, they recommend that people start drinking fluids early and continue to drink them at regular intervals to replace fluids lost by sweating.


Water Helps Your Kidneys

kidneys-2Your kidneys do an amazing job of cleansing and ridding your body of toxins, as long as your fluid intake is adequate. When you’re getting enough fluids, urine flows freely, is light in color, and free of odor. When your body is not getting enough fluids, the concentration, color, and odor increases because the kidneys trap extra fluid for bodily functions. And, if you chronically drink too little, you may be at a higher risk of developing kidney stones, especially in warm climates.


Water Helps Maintain Normal Bowel Function

Adequate hydration really keeps things flowing and prevents constipation. When you don’t get enough fluid, the colon pulls water from the stools to maintain hydration. The result is constipation.


Tips to Drink MORE Water

Drink a glass of water with every snack and meal throughout the day.



Eat more fruits and vegetables. About 20% of your fluid intake comes from food.



Take a bottle with you in the car, at your desk, in your bag, and at the gym.



Set yourself up for success with a gallon a day.


Take a gallon of water and draw time increments on the side, so you know how much water you need to drink every few hours. Have fun decorating and write little words of encouragement on the container too. Some of my favorite are:


“I LOVE water!”

“I can do it!”

“Yum….water’s good!”  



Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!