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Dietary Fiber

Foods with fiber

The motivation behind today’s blog post is to address a common issue widely experienced by many people. In particular those taking antidepressants and other prescribed psychiatric drugs, constipation. 

In Psynergy’s kitchen we take careful precautions to assist our clients in achieving their nutritional requirements, and aid in preventing and caring for those experiencing constipation. One of the ways in which we address this issue, is by ensuring that our dishes contain enough dietary fiber to meet our clients’ nutritional needs.

Dietary fiber, also known as "roughage” is an essential nutrient needed for the normal functioning of the gut. It is related to a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.

Today’s post discusses the health benefits of dietary fiber in our diet, what foods contain it, how much of it we should be consuming and tips on how to increase your daily intake. This is especially relevant to us as the FDA reports that most Americans do not have enough dietary fiber in their diet.

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant foods, it is made up of many sugar molecules linked together. Unlike other carbohydrates (such as starch), fiber is bound together in such a way that it cannot be readily digested in the small intestine. It is completely or partially broken down by bacteria in the large intestine.

Foods rich in dietary fiber:

Fruits • Nuts and seeds • Vegetables • Wheat bran • Whole grain foods (such as brown rice and whole grain breads, cereals, and pasta) • Beans and peas • Oats (such as oat bran and oatmeal)

Health benefits of dietary fiber:

• Lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes and colorectal cancer.

• Treats and prevents constipation, makes stools softer and easier to pass.

• Helps lower high blood cholesterol level or high blood pressure.

How much should we be having?

• The Daily Value for fiber is 25 g per day based on an average person’s requirements.

• Increase your fiber intake gradually to avoid gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating and gas and allow your gut to adjust to the higher intake.

• Drink plenty of fluid, to allow the fiber to do its job properly, aiming for 8-10 cups of fluid per day at regular intervals.

Tips to help you increase your dietary fiber intake:

1.     The Nutrition Facts Label on food packages shows the amount in grams (g) and the Percent Daily Value (%DV) of dietary fiber in one serving of the food.  When comparing foods, choose foods with a higher %DV of dietary fiber. The goal is to get 100% of the Daily Value for dietary fiber on most days. 

·       5% DV or less of dietary fiber per serving is low 

·       20% DV or more of dietary fiber per serving is high. 

2.     Whole grains on the ingredient list on a food package. Whole grain ingredients are: barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, rolled oats, whole grain corn, whole grain sorghum, whole oats, whole rye, and whole wheat. 

3.     Switch from refined to whole grain versions of commonly consumed foods (such as breads, cereals, pasta, and rice). 

4.     Limit refined grains and products made with refined grains (such as cakes, chips, cookies, and crackers), which can be high in added sugars, saturated fat, and/or sodium and are common sources of excess calories.

5.     Start your day with a bowl of whole grain breakfast cereal (such as bran or oatmeal), high in dietary fiber and low in added sugars. 

6.     Top your cereal with fruit for sweetness and even more fiber.

7.     Have raw vegetables for quick snacks — choose colorful dark green, orange, and red vegetables, such as broccoli florets, carrots, and red peppers.