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A Bran New You
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A European study that followed the lives of over 1000 men for forty years revealed that eating fiber adds years to your life, and improves health, as well. For every additional 10 grams of fiber consumed daily a man reduced his risk of heart disease by 17% and overall mortality by 9%.

Studies sponsored by the American Dietetic Association show that high fiber diets reduce the chances of getting some cancers, especially colon or intestinal cancers. A fiber-rich diet also protects against diverticulosis and diverticuiltis, painful abdominal conditions, as well as promoting intestinal regularity. High fiber diets also seem to cause lower blood pressure.

How much fiber should you get daily? The ADA would like to see every man consume 39 grams per day, but Lydia A. L. Bazzano, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Tulane University states that between 25 to 30 grams daily is enough for the average man. The problem? The average man typically consumes only half of that—between 12 to 18 grams daily.

Want to increase your fiber intake? Here are three simple suggestions.

1. Start with a fiber-filled breakfast. Mom was right. Breakfast is the most important meal – and a simple way to get much of your daily fiber.  Says Joanne Slavin, Professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, at University of Minnesota, “A really lazy way to get your fiber is to have a high fiber cereal for breakfast.”  Bran cereals work best but so does oatmeal or cream of wheat, especially if you throw in dried fruit, nuts, and sliced bananas – all rich in fiber.  Or chow down on a bran muffin or two.  Just one cup of raisin bran cereal provides one-third to one-quarter of your daily fiber needs.  Even substituting whole wheat toast for white toast helps.

2. Make your lunch and dinner choices count. Substituting a whole wheat bun for white bread triples the fiber you get from the bread. Get your burger with lettuce and have them put all the veggies on that submarine sandwich. “Beans are full of dietary fiber and especially soluble fiber, so next time you eat chili—get the kind with beans,” advises Bazzano. Speaking of beans, legumes like dried peas and lentils are also great sources of fiber. Hearty soups like split pea or lentil soup are a great way to get fiber. One cup of either yields around eight grams of fiber

3. Fix on fresh fruit. An apple a day may not keep the doctor away, but two apples with lunch or as mid-day snacks provide one-third to one-quarter of your dietary fiber needs. Fresh fruit is a great source of fiber. It is convenient, too. Just grab an apple. Besides apples, especially rich fruit sources of fiber according to the American Dietetic Association include bananas, oranges, pears, and strawberries. One orange or one banana has around three grams of fiber. One apple or pear, or a cup of strawberries holds nearly four grams. Fresh fruit is best, but cooked fruit works, too. Even a slice of apple pie has two grams of fiber.

Make this year the year of the "bran" new you.

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By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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