Fiber-Rich Foods to Add to Your Diet
· Lentils = 1 cup has 16 grams of fiber
· Black beans = 1 cup has 15 grams of fiber
· Pistachios = 1 cup has 13 grams of fiber
· Prunes = 1 cup has 12 grams of fiber
· Corn = 1 cup has 12 grams of fiber
· Chickpeas = 1 cup has 10.6 grams of fiber
· Artichokes = 1 artichoke has 10 grams of fiber
· Peas = 1 cup has 9 grams of fiber
· Oatmeal = 1 cup has 8 grams of fiber
· Raspberries = 1 cup has 8 grams of fiber
· Avocado = ½ avocado has 7 grams of fiber
· Pears = 1 medium unpeeled pear has 6 grams of fiber
· Chia seeds = 1 tablespoon has 5 grams of fiber
· Brown rice (REAL brown rice, not the brown colored instant rice, I mean the rice that takes a good 20 minutes to make) = 1 cup has 4 grams of fiber
· Apples = 1 small, unpeeled apple has 4 grams of fiber
· Broccoli = 1 cup has 2.4 grams of fiber
· Kale = 1 cup has 2.6 grams of fiber
· Spinach = 1 cup has 4.3 grams of fiber
· Celery = 1 cup has 1.6 grams of fiber
· Dark chocolate = 1 ounce has 3.1 grams of fiber (remind people that one ounce is VERY small amount and it should be good quality)
WHAT IS FIBER?
Dietary fiber is an essential component of a healthful diet, with research linking a high fiber diet with reduced risks of many health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Fiber is also important for keeping the gut healthy.
Most people in America do not meet their adequate daily requirement of fiber. People can increase this measure by eating more high fiber foods, fruits and vegetables with the skins on, or by taking fiber supplements if this is not possible. But as with any supplement, it is never as beneficial as getting fiber from real food.
Fiber is a natural (and healthy) carbohydrate. When you look at nutrition labels, you may see fiber labeled as soluble or insoluble. Soluble fiber (found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, peas and some fruits and vegetables) absorbs water, which transforms it into a gel-like substance that slows digestion. Soluble fiber may reduce blood cholesterol and sugar. It helps your body improve blood glucose control, which can aid in reducing your risk for diabetes. In contrast, insoluble fiber speeds digestion by adding bulk to the stool; it is found in whole grains, wheat bran and some types of vegetables. Insoluble fiber attracts water into your stool, making it softer and easier to pass with less strain on your bowel. Insoluble fiber can help promote bowel health and regularity. It also supports insulin sensitivity, and, like soluble fiber, may help reduce your risk for diabetes. Most plants (which is where fiber comes from) have both types, but usually more of one than the other.
Both types of fiber are healthy. A fiber-rich diet makes you feel full faster, so it helps you maintain a healthy weight. It has also been linked with easier weight loss and lower risk of diabetes.
The recommended amount of daily fiber is a minimum of 25 grams of for women and 38 grams for men. The average adult only eats 15 grams of fiber per day.
TOP TEN BENEFITS OF FIBER
Research has shown that a diet rich in fiber is associated with many health benefits, including the following:
1. Better regulates blood sugar levels: Fiber, especially the soluble type, found in psyllium, bran, and legumes slows the absorption of sugar from the intestines. This steadies the blood sugar level and lessens the ups and downs of insulin secretion. When you eat foods high in fiber, such as beans and whole grains, the sugar in those foods is absorbed slower, which keeps your blood glucose levels from rising too fast. This is good for you because spikes in glucose fall rapidly, which can make you feel hungry soon after eating and lead to overeating. Many high-fiber foods are also low on the glycemic index, which is a scale that ranks how much a food will impact blood sugar levels. This results in fewer sugar spikes, which helps to prevent constant cravings and acts as a natural appetite suppressant
2. Constipation: Insoluble fibers, mainly the cellulose in skins of fruits and vegetables and the husks of grains help prevent constipation; their sponge effect absorbs a lot of water into the stools, making them soft and bulky. This type of stool stimulates the intestines to contract in an undulating way, called peristalsis, which sweeps stools along — the broom effect of fiber. In cultures that typically eat higher fiber diets, people tend to produce stools that are softer, larger, and more frequent, unlike the smaller, harder, and less frequent stools associated with the typical Western diet.
3. Fiber helps you breathe more easily – and it also helps lower your risk of developing lung cancer. Fiber promotes lung health in several important ways, including reduction of inflammation and the promotion of healthy levels of gut bacteria. It improves lung health overall and also promotes, respiratory function and reduces COPD risk as well.
4. Fiber helps you sleep more deeply too! A study just published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine compared the effects of different foods on slow-wave sleep (also called deep sleep). They found that when study participants ate the recommended diet, which included high-fiber foods low in saturated fat and sugar, they fell asleep faster and had longer periods of deeply restful sleep.
5. Fiber lowers breast cancer risk – particularly when young women eat a fiber-rich diet. Scientists have long been aware that eating plenty of fiber helps lower a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, in part by binding to estrogen, which is associated with breast cancer developments. Now a new study from Harvard reports that for every additional 10g of dietary fiber eaten daily by women in adolescence and young adulthood, breast cancer risk is lowered 13%.
6. Fiber promotes healthy intestinal bacteria: Fiber promotes overall intestinal health by discouraging the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestines and encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria. This is thought to contribute to the lowered risk of colorectal cancer associated with a high-fiber diet. Fiber also contributes to a friendlier intestinal environment – the friendly bacteria in the colon ferment fiber into short-chain fatty acids, healthy nutrients that can be used by the body. The friendly bacteria in the intestines seem to prefer rice bran and barley bran, balanced sources of soluble and insoluble fiber, to make these nutritious fatty acids. These foods are also rich in vitamin E compounds called “tocotrienols,” which are natural cholesterol-lowering substances.
7. Fiber promotes heart health – and lowers the risk of a second cardiac event in patients who’ve already had one heart attack. The anti-inflammatory benefits of eating fiber are good for the heart too, both in keeping a strong heart healthy and in improving health after heart attack. A recent study found that eating fiber from cereal reduced risk of death in the nine years following a heart attack by 25%, with higher survival linked to higher rates of dietary fiber from cereal.
8. Lowers cholesterol: A diet high in soluble fiber, such as that found in oat bran, whole oats, psyllium, legumes, barley, fruit, and prunes, lowers blood levels of the harmful type of cholesterol (LDL) without lowering the good cholesterol (HDL) levels. This may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
9. May prevent colon cancer: While soluble fiber helps protect against cardiovascular diseases, insoluble fiber protects against colon cancer. Insoluble fiber increases the bulk and speed of food moving through the intestinal tract, which reduces time for harmful substances to build up. Researchers believe that the reduced cancer risk is because fiber moves food more quickly through the digestive system, minimizing cellular exposure to potential carcinogens as it removes waste more efficiently. The health benefits of fiber is clearly seen in cultures where people eat lots of high-fiber food and the incidence of colon cancer is significantly lower. Increasing your consumption of insoluble fiber, such as that found in whole grains, especially wheat bran is one of the most effective dietary changes you can make to decrease your risk of colon cancer.
10. Weight control: A high-fiber diet may help keep you fuller longer, which prevents overeating and hunger between meals. High fiber foods require more chewing, and the prolonged chewing, besides pre-digesting the food, satisfies the appetite so you eat less. Fiber stays in the stomach longer, absorbs water, swells, and helps the eater feel full. Because of this feeling of fullness, people on high fiber diets tend to eat more slowly and eat less, especially less fat. Best fibers for weight control are bran and the pectin from fruits. High-fiber foods are usually less energy-dense, meaning that they have fewer calories for the same volume of food when compared to low fiber foods.
SIMPLE WAYS TO INCREASE FIBER IN YOUR DIET
· Add fiber to your diet slowly. Too much fiber all at once may cause cramping, bloating, and constipation.
· When adding fiber to your diet, be sure to drink adequate fluids (at least 64 ounces or 8 cups per day) to prevent constipation.
· Choose products that have a whole grain listed as the first ingredient, not enriched flour. Whole wheat flour is a whole grain--wheat flour is not.
· Choose whole grain bread (again, not simply “wheat bread”) with 2-4 grams of dietary fiber per slice.
· Choose cereals with at least 5 grams of dietary fiber per serving.
· Choose raw fruits and vegetables in place of juice, and eat fruits and vegetables with the skins on, as the skins contain lots of fiber. Aim to eat 4.5 cups of vegetables and 4.5 cups of fruit each day
· Try alternative fiber choices such as whole buckwheat, whole wheat couscous, quinoa, bulgur, wheat germ, chia seeds, hemp seeds, lentil pasta, and edamame pasta.
· Popcorn is a whole grain. Serve it low-fat without butter for a healthier snack choice.
· Sprinkle bran in soups, cereals, baked products, spaghetti sauce, ground meat, and casseroles.
· Use dried peas, beans, and legumes in main dishes, salads, or side dishes such as rice or pasta.
· Add fruit to yogurt, cereal, rice, and muffins.
· Try brown rice and whole grain pastas.
For high fiber recipe ideas take a look at these websites:
Given the plethora of benefits provided by adding more fiber to your diet, I encourage you all to make the effort to do so. Remember, add it slowly into your diet and drink lots of water!
Stay well and be healthy!
THE BENEFITS OF BREATH WORK
Breathing. It is something we do, all day and every day. Every human needs to breathe to live: the process allows oxygen into the body and in turn expels carbon dioxide. Since breathing is automatic, we don’t ordinarily think much about it. So why should we focus on something as simple as our breath? I encourage you all to continue reading so that you can better understand how conscious, controlled breathing can reduce stress, increase alertness and boost our immune system.
How often have you been told “just breathe”? Frightened? “Take a deep breath.” Hurt yourself? “Breathe, breathe, breathe.” Giving birth? “Keep breathing.” When you start to think about it, the majority of natural calming rituals focus on your breath and utilizing its power.
Deep breathing decreases stress by increasing your calm. When you become stressed or anxious, your brain releases the stress hormone called cortisol and your body kicks into the sympathetic nervous system which induces flight, fight or freeze mode. By taking deep breaths with a long exhale body switches to the parasympathetic nervous system, which communicates with the brain to relax and releases your endorphins…those feel good chemical in your brain.
Similarly, deep breathing lowers blood pressure. As muscles relax, your blood vessels dilate, which improves circulation and lowers blood pressure. Deep breathing also slows and regulates the heart rate, which also helps with lowering your blood pressure.
So what exactly is breathwork?
Don’t feel intimidated if you’ve never had a formal meditation or breathwork practice--many breathing techniques are simple enough to practice at home, during a work break, first thing in the morning, or before bed. Even if it seems like an “up-and-coming” wellness practice in the West, people in the Eastern part of the world have been practicing breathwork for thousands of years and it is quite simple to work you’re your daily routine.
Breathwork describes a group of exercises that teach you to manipulate your breathing rate and depth with the goal of bringing awareness to your breath. Although they may go hand in hand, breathwork and meditation are not the same thing. Meditation asks you to focus on your breathing, but rarely involves changing how you breathe. In contrast, breathwork is all about controlling the way we breathe and improves our breathing patterns and oxygen flow. Meditation involves sitting quietly and paying attention to the present moment—our thoughts and sensations, which can be intimidating and stressful to some; breathwork requires more active participation. Generally people feel more comfortable starting with breathwork because they don’t worry that they are doing it “wrong”, which is sometimes the case with meditation. Breathwork can offer a quicker means of achieving a calm and relaxed state, which can then lead more naturally into a meditation practice.
What are the different types of breathwork?
There are many types of breathwork practices, some ranging from fairly basic and easy to do at home, to others requiring a practitioner to teach you the practice. Here are some breathing exercises you can try safely and easily at home. Once you get started with a regular breathwork practice (even if it is only 2 minutes in the morning and evening) you will develop a means of calming your nervous system when you most need it.
Beginning your breathwork journey presents you with an opportunity to collect “tools” that you can have in your toolbox that are readily available to help you in times of stress. The more you practice, the more accessible the tools will be when you require them because the breath with be automatic. Start small. Develop a practice of two minutes of breathwork in the morning and the evening. Then begin to build upon the practice. I’m certain you will want to do so once you feel the benefits. Remember, you are starting something new, so don’t get discouraged. These are positive exercises, meant to decrease and not increase any anxiety or stress. So always remember that any time you need instruction or further information, I am here to assist and guide you.
Sending you all wishes of health and happiness--
Brenda I wanted to talk about meal planning services today. So, first of all, what is that?
Well, it is basically an online meal planning service. There are many, many different services, which have many different focuses, but the one thing most of them have in common is portion control. In our office we have all shared and tried out several of these services and they all have the same general feel.
You create an account and once you are logged in, you can see what available plans they have and choose how many meals per week and how many people. You enter some food preferences and then they send you suggested meals. You choose your meals for the coming week, or weeks, and then on a specific day you receive a box with everything you need to make those meals. Everything is perfectly portioned and, usually, everything you need is in the box, except maybe salt and pepper.
I am fascinated by the portions, because when Natalie cooks without the plan we usually have way more. So, I will admit that we usually add a salad to the meal to round it out.
One of the things that I like is that we tried doing an all vegetarian 3 days of meals and if we had been doing that on our own it would have been pasta, pasta, and more pasta. But with this we had veggie fajitas (DELICIOUS!), a spicy veggie stuffed cabbage, and gnocchi with sundried tomatoes (yes, that’s pasta, but at least it was only once).
The recipes are so simple. On days when we are working late, Jack can jump in and prepare everything for when we get home.
Brenda and her significant other, Mike, love being able to pick a meal online and having everything sent to them in the amounts they need for a particular recipe, not buying a whole jar of something that then sits around in the fridge ‘til it goes bad. Brenda and Yvette will be posting a few time on this blog as well, so keep coming back for that.
The one we are currently trying out is called HomeChef, and we like it, but I think there are hit or miss recipes. I am sure that is true of all these types of services. We also tried out Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and Martha and Marley Spoon, for a few weeks each. HERE is an article that describes some of the services and there are links available inside the article as well for the others.
There is also a service called Plate Joy, which creates menus and grocery shopping lists for you, so you do not have to receive the food in the mail. Plate Joy does something they call onboarding - this means they ask you questions about food preferences and what appliances you have, so that they know what kinds of meals they can recommend. You can actually do the onboarding without signing up just to see what they might suggest for you.
All of these services have fees, but Natalie thinks that cost-wise it is similar to what you might spend cooking the meal on your own.
Here is a photo of one of the vegetarian meals we made recently ...