Food for Life – Fiber

Nutritional research discovers more each year about the chemistry of food and the intricate ways in which it is utilized by the body to keep us healthy and strong.

Investigation has revealed that the fashionable, highly refined diet that has become so popular over the years is often lacking in fiber. As a consequence, researchers have observed a corresponding increase in health problems.

Constipation, colon cancer, diverticulitis, varicose veins, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, and hardening of the arteries are a few of the common conditions that are the result of an inadequate fiber intake. The incidence level of these diseases and abnormalities was dramatically lower at the turn of this century. Most cereal products were in a less refined state. For this reason, an increasing number of people are reverting back to a natural, unrefined diet that is rich in fiber.

An adequate fiber intake offers many benefits, especially for those who wish to lose weight. Fiber, often referred to as roughage or bulk, is found only in plant foods and characteristically passes through the system without being digested and absorbed into the blood stream. Dispensing with refined foods and increasing the intake of natural, unrefined food will provide the volume to achieve satiety with a reduced caloric content. Such a revitalized diet, coupled with a regular fitness program, can go a long way in resolving a person’s weight problem.

In addition, fiber adds “body” to waste food residues enabling the bowel to convey them more easily along within the digestive tract. It also ensures that waste is not able to accumulate within the colon for long periods of time, increasing the risk of disease.

An astronomical amount of money is spent on laxatives and stool softeners each year in the United States by millions of people who fight a never-ending battle with constipation. In most cases, a natural, high-fiber diet would quickly resolve the problem.

Greater affluence over the last several decades has seen more people to afford richer and more expensive animal foods. Apart from meat and dairy foods containing a high level of cholesterol and saturated fat (not to mention other detriments), they are notoriously low, or completely devoid of fiber intake. Low intake can also, in part, be attributed to drinking the juice of fruit or vegetables instead of eating the items themselves. While there may be nothing wrong with juices, they should not be used to the exclusion of whole fruits and vegetables.

The perfect way to ensure an abundant fiber intake, along with all of the nutrients necessary for life, is to eat a variety of fruits, grains, nuts, and vegetables. Whole-wheat bread is an example of one basic food within this category which is rich in fiber. Wheat bran can also be added to certain items, such as homemade granola and cookies, or even sprinkled onto salads. It should be remembered, however, that while a little extra bran taken in this way may be helpful for those who need it, an excess may prove far from beneficial. Moderation is the key principle here in order to avoid the digestive upset that can result from too much of a good thing.

Legumes such as beans and garbanzos are also rich in a fiber that differs from the type found in wheat and which especially enables the body to manage fats and cholesterol in a beneficial way. Eating potatoes in their jackets is another example of how a food can be eaten more naturally without dispensing with its valuable fiber content.

Many books and tables are available which provide information about the fiber content of various foods. Also, with the increasing awareness of the importance of fiber among consumers, more and more food packaging contains fiber information. While such information can be very useful, as a general rule, a vegetarian diet of unrefined foods will supply adequate fiber to the diet.

August Recipe:

Old Fashioned Bread Pudding

Mix together gently in a bowl:

6 cups 1″ bread cubes

½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

½ cup raisins

1 cup chopped apples

4 cups sweet cashew milk

Sweet Cashew Milk

Blend until smooth:

1 cup cashew pieces

1 cup hot water

Then add:

3 cups water

¼ cup honey

2 tsp. vanilla

pinch salt

1 tsp. orange rind

Pour into an 8X8 lightly oiled baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. This recipe will serve 4-5 people.