We hear a lot about how we need to eat more fiber for our health, but relatively little about why we should eat more fiber or about what it actually is. If you follow fad diets, you may have even heard that you should eat fewer carbohydrates. But if you’re eating dietary fiber, you’re eating carbohydrates. So why do we need to eat more fiber and is it really good for our health?
A Brief Description of Fiber
The fiber we eat is basically composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. That’s typically what we call a carbohydrate. But fiber doesn’t break down the way sugar does when we eat it. In fact, simple sugars are quickly converted to energy as soon as we eat them.
Complex carbohydrates take a while to break down and convert to energy, so they’re typically recommended over simple carbohydrates. Fiber, on the other hand, is hardly broken down at all and may even prevent some of the other carbohydrates from being fully broken down.
Why Do We Want Fiber Then?
It should be noted that fiber is a general term that describes a wide variety of substances. Our body benefits from us eating several different types of fiber. For the purpose of simplicity, we generally break descriptions of fiber down into a soluble and insoluble form.
Soluble fiber simply describes types of fiber that dissolve in water. This creates a gel type of substance. It also helps things move along through the digestive tract and slows down the rate at which our body converts foods into energy. This is actually a good thing. High soluble fiber diets are associated with stable blood sugar levels.
Soluble fiber is found in many of the same foods as insoluble fiber. Apples, barley, beans, carrots, citrus fruit, oats, and peas are all examples of excellent sources of soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber simply describes types of fiber that don’t dissolve in water. In other words, it pretty much passes through our system and forms a nice stool. So it not only keeps things moving at a brisk pace in your digestive tract, but it also provides bulk that makes you feel satisfied after a reasonable size meal. Insoluble fiber is plentiful in such whole foods as brown rice, whole wheat, and vegetables.
So if you eat a diet that is balanced and full of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, you’ll basically have fiber covered. The results will be a healthier cholesterol ratio, a reduced risk of diabetes, a healthier heart, and a reduced risk of many intestinal diseases. For those looking to lose weight, feeling more full and slowing down food absorption at the same time is an irresistible double benefit of eating foods high in fiber.
How Much Fiber Do You Need?
It is not really known how much fiber you need to consume, but there is good scientific evidence for the minimums that are commonly set. Most people don’t get nearly enough. The absolute minimum amount a person should consume is 25 grams per day, while the average American gets 15 grams per day. This could partially explain why obesity and diabetes are on the rise.
Of course, you shouldn’t become a fiber fanatic. But there really haven’t been a lot of studies showing that eating fiber-rich foods regularly is a health concern. Consult your physician about the type of diet you should eat. In general, a high fiber diet is associated with better health and weight control.
The Importance of Drinking Water
Water is very much under-rated as a dieting aid. But not only does it help the body’s metabolism, but it also helps to keep everything flowing smoothly in the body.
It keeps the joints well lubricated and this brings better results from exercising – it’s important to drink plenty both before and during exercise.
Water also helps the body to move fiber out, and it adds bulk so that you feel “fuller”. This is a great way to curb the appetite. On average, we require a minimum of 64 ounces (1.9L) daily for this.
Water is also great for enabling the body to properly absorb the nutrients it needs into the body’s tissues, during the course of the day.
If we want to keep up our energy levels throughout the day, water is vitally important. The consumption of water should be evenly spread through the day. A recommended level is 6 ounces (170 ml) every hour (except when exercising).
For best effects, water should be drunk slowly. Depending on the temperature of the water, the reaction of the body will vary.
To drop those 10 pounds as quickly as possible, drinking the water at room temperature will mean that the body will absorb it better. However, ice water is better at burning calories. So for best effect, alternate between both temperatures.
It’s easy to see why this would be true – the body burns up energy heating up the ice water, while the room temperature water prevents the body from retaining tissue fluid, keeping weight down.
If you get dehydrated, the body will begin to store water in tissues, for protection. This could add 5 pounds to your weight!
And the consumption of water will keep hunger at bay, especially when you alternate between ice water and tepid, and you use only purified water. It’s the easiest type for the body to process.
To lose 10 pounds, you need to drink more water. It will help with the body’s metabolism, and keeping water levels up means that you will have lower fat deposits.
This is because your liver will not have to work so hard metabolizing fat. The liver is the body’s main fat-burning organ and main producer of cholesterol.
And that is why hydrating is very important when you are exercising. When you are involved in all that exertion and your blood is racing, the sludge needs to be flushed out of your body.
After exercise, you should drink 16-24 ounces. This helps greatly with the cleaning process, giving an easy exit for all the toxins. The more water you can make available to your liver, the better it can function.
Water is the main tool used by our bodies in the process of detoxification, and it enables the liver to sort between nutrients and toxins. It will increase your energy levels, and decrease your waistline.
So enjoy all the benefits that drinking water brings, as it helps you to lose weight. Make it a part of your day – all day. And you will lose 10 pounds much faster!