BBPT Health Tip: Eat your Fiber

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Fiona McMahon, DPT, PT

What is fiber?

Fiber, it’s the hot ticket. It is being marketed to us like crazy. But why is fiber is so important? What fiber is best? Should you get more fiber with supplements? Let’s take a closer look into the benefits of fiber in this edition of BBPT’s Health tips.

Fiber is the part of food that we cannot digest. It is separated into two types, soluble and insoluble. Both bulk up the contents of your stomach and colon, which can help you feel more full but after that, the similarities end.

As the name implies, soluble fiber dissolves in water but insoluble does not. Insoluble fiber increases the mass of the stool and helps to get things moving, in terms of passing feces. Soluble fiber absorbs water. The truth is, most people are not getting enough fiber. Less than half of people in the United States consume the recommended amount of fiber. Let’s discuss the benefits of fiber and how to make sure you are getting enough.

So what if you don’t have issues going number 2? What else can fiber help you with?

Fiber has been shown to help with reducing the risk of the following conditions:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Fiber has also been shown to:

  • Improve insulin sensitivity in people who have diabetes
  • Enhance weight loss
  • Improve GI conditions like acid reflux, duodenal ulcers, diverticulitis, constipation, and hemorrhoids
  • Enhance the function of the immune system

How much to eat and where to get it?

Men under 50 years and under should consume at least 38 grams of fiber daily, Women under 50 should consume at least 25 grams of fiber daily. Women over 50 should eat at least 21 grams and men over 50 should get 30.  Those who suffer from constipation may add more to your diet.   We suggest contacting a nutritionist for proper amounts of soluble versus insoluble in these cases and anyone with a history of GI issues.  Also, please discuss with your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet.  

Adding  fiber to your diet when you are not used to it can sometimes be a little difficult. If you add too much too quickly, you may experience gas and bloating. Start slow and work your way up.  Also, drink plenty of water.

Start by adding in whole wheat items (unless you have a gluten sensitivity), legumes, fruits, and vegetables slowly to your diet. Check out the Mayo Clinic’s full list of fiber rich foods here .

Sources

Anderson J, Baird P, Davis R, et al. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutr Rev. 2009. 67(4)188-205

Family Doctor.org Decermber 2010: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/food-nutrition/nutrients/fiber-how-to-increase-the-amount-in-your-diet.printerview.all.html. Accessed November 11, 2016.

Medlineplus. Soluble vs. insoluble fiber.https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002136.htm. Accessed November 17,2016.  

BBPT Health Tips: Its Pumpkin Time!

 

Pumpkin patch

 

Fiona McMahon, DPT

Like it or not, we are creeping closer to the official start of fall. Maybe you recognize the start of fall with bulky sweaters, putting away your white clothing, or going apple picking. One fall tradition that has gotten super hot over the past few years is the celebration of all things pumpkin: pumpkin flavored coffee, candles, chapstick, etc. Basically pumpkin flavored everything. But did you know that actual pumpkin, not just the flavoring, is good for you? In this blog we will run down some health benefits as well as sharing a couple recipes to help you get your pumpkin on!

1. Pumpkins are loaded with antioxidants
• Pumpkins contain heaps of vitamin A, which is essential for protecting your eyesight. They also contain the vital nutrients, thiamin and folate
• The antioxidants in pumpkin can help to fight cancer and improve the look of aging skin
2. Pumpkins are full of fiber
• They can help you poop! Their high fiber content can also help you to feel fuller longer, and may help you lose weight
3. Pumpkin Seeds are good for your heart
• Pumpkin seeds contain loads of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which can be protective for your heart.

Pumpkin SmoothiePumpkin+Smoothie9-2
• 1 cup of purée, (you can go for canned, but try to avoid brands with added sugar)
• 1 ripe banana
• 1 cup milk (soymilk, almond milk, and coconut milk all make excellent substitutes for the lactose intolerant)
• 1 tablespoon sweetener, like agave or honey
• ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 ¼ pumpkin pie spice
• 5 ice cubes
• For added thickness throw in a couple tablespoons of oatmeal
Add to blender and blend until smooth. Serves 2

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

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You can make these bad boys into a savory or sweet snack. Based on your preferences, it all comes down to what spices you add. This recipe is for fresh pumpkin seeds:
• Preheat oven to 300F
• Rinse seeds and remove residual pumpkin residue
• Roast your pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes
• Toss seeds with olive
• Season with your favorite spices, like cinnamon sugar or curry spices
• Return to oven and roast for an additional 20 minutes

Let us know how you celebrate all things pumpkin in the comments!