Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Real Facts About High Fiber Foods

There are so many benefits of a high fiber diet that one wonders why it took so long to realize it. It provides total body support, from cleansing, detoxifying and decreasing the risk of deadly diseases. As a matter of fact, a high fiber diet promotes healthy cholesterol levels. When the wrong type of cholesterol accumulates in your blood and arteries, it can block the flow of blood to your heart and the result can be life-threatening. However, the remedy is not to banish all cholesterol, but to encourage the good cholesterol and limit the bad to maintain good heart health.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance made predominantly by the liver. It forms a part of every cell wall. That is why it is impossible to live without it. Cholesterol also creates bile salts, as well as sex and adrenal hormones. It helps the body to make vitamin D, which helps the nervous system to perform its function. But, when too much low-density lipoprotein or LDL (bad) cholesterol enters the bloodstream, it is deposited on artery walls and interferes with the blood flow. This leads to the oxidization of the arterial plaques of LDL, which can rupture and set off a clotting reaction that prevents the heart muscle from receiving the nutrients it needs to survive. In contrast, high-density lipoprotein or HDL (good) cholesterol helps keep arteries clear. According to the National Institutes of Health, your LDL cholesterol level should be below 130 mg/DL, and your HDL level above 40 mg/DL.

This is where a high fiber diet can do magic. It helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Unicity International, a global health and wellness company conducted a study and found that supplements of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber boosted HDL and lowered LDL. “The remarkable observation is that this works on two sides,” says Unicity Chief Science Officer Peter J. Verdegem, PhD. “It decreased LDL and increased HDL by significant amounts at 90 days. This approach is virtually free of side effects. When it is in the intestines, fiber decreases re-absorption of cholesterol from a meal.”

Another study focusing on more than 150 Hispanic men and women revealed that consuming soluble fiber resulted in a significant decrease in LDL levels by speeding the elimination of waste from the intestines. It also prevents bile from reentering the body.

How Much Fiber Do You Need

Most experts recommend 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day. Unfortunately, majority of Americans take hardly 10 to 15 daily grams. In some countries people take in 100 grams of fiber every day; they have very low incidence of heart diseases.

Fiber is found in vegetarian foods. In contrast, meat and other animal products are devoid of fiber. Refined foods like cakes and cookies made from white flour have had their fiber removed.

Fiber is indigestible with no fattening calories. It was considered of no consequence because it consists of carbohydrates impervious to the digestive enzymes in the gut. That explains why it was ignored for so long. However, now we know that fiber nourishes the immune-boosting, friendly bacteria that line the digestive tract.

Fiber is divided into two types: soluble and insoluble. Both of them produce different health benefits. Soluble fiber exits the stomach slowly, and takes the toxins with it through the digestive tract. Insoluble fiber sweeps toxins off the walls of the intestines. You need to consume a balance of soluble and insoluble.

Author: Brandon H. Masters

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