Superfood Fiber to the Rescue- American Diabetes Month
When people think of fiber, they think of commercials on TV with an old lady stirring a thick sludge in a glass and smiling as she struggles to choke it down. Fiber has gotten a bad rap over the years as a boring, bland supplement that only old people take. Not so! It’s time to revisit this remarkable food and highlight its amazing health benefits that are important for people of all ages. Since this is American Diabetes Awareness month, we are going to focus specifically on the application of fiber and how it naturally manages blood sugar levels.
Did you know, according to US Dietary Guidelines, the average person should eat between 20-35 grams of fiber each day? Research has shown that we consume about half that amount! Another study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that people with diabetes who ate 50 grams of fiber a day were able to control their blood glucose better than those who ate far less. Now, we may be asking ourselves, “what, exactly, is fiber and why is it so important to include as part of a healthy diet?”
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate but unlike sugars and starches (which are also carbs) fiber is not broken down by the human body, therefore has no effect on blood glucose levels. Research also shows that after fiber reaches your large intestine, it sends signals to your brain which releases defenses against diabetes and obesity. The defenses include increased satiety (full sensation), increased energy expenditure during periods of rest and less glucose production from the liver. Although, fiber is a carbohydrate, it’s important to note that fiber derived from foods containing complex carbs will metabolize quickly into sugar, so avoid all carbohydrates that are not fiber. Another important fact about fiber is that there are actually two types of fiber: soluble or insoluble.
Soluble fiber, like that found in cucumbers, blueberries, beans, and nuts, was found to be particularly beneficial for type 2 diabetes. Soluble fiber dissolves into a gel-like texture, helping to slow down your digestion. Soluble fiber may also help to slow your body's breakdown of carbohydrates and the absorption of sugar, helping with blood sugar control. Insoluble fiber, found in foods like dark green leafy vegetables, green beans, celery, and carrots, does not dissolve at all and helps add bulk to your stool. This helps food to move through your digestive tract more quickly for healthy elimination. A simple "rule" to remember is to get most of your fiber in the form of vegetables, not grains, and focus on eating more vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Like the seeds and sprouts found in SMART Pressed Juice’s Pineapple Chia Cleanse!
Curious about which nuts, sprouts, and vegetables contain the most amount of fiber to incorporate into your healthy lifestyle? You’d be surprised, despite common preconceptions, whole grains are hardly the best source of fiber around. Sprouting your grains (which are essentially seeds) is a very nutritious way of intaking fiber, as they contain all the elements that a plant needs for life and growth. The simple process of sprouting brings out many enzymes in germinated seeds, legumes, and grains, making them easier to digest. It also increases the amounts and bioavailability of protein, B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, ﬁber, and essential amino acids, transforming them into nutrition powerhouses. For example, we normally eat grain in their more traditional milled- flour form, but sprouts can be obtained from wheat, barley, rye, buckwheat, brown rice, etc. A great list of vegetables that are high in fiber include: brussel sprouts, broccoli, lima beans, avocados, cauliflower, artichokes, and peas. Chia seeds, flax seeds, and fennel seeds, almonds, raspberries, blackberries, and pears contain high amounts of fiber as well. Sneak in any of the aforementioned plants into your meals, and you are sure gain the benefits of the fiber contained in each ingredient.
Carbohydrates are best avoided by people suffering from diabetes, however there are carbs that contain high amounts of fiber, which studies have shown to be necessary for the control and decrease of blood glucose. Choose your carbs wisely, regardless of the absence of a disorder or not. Fiber-rich foods display beneficial effects for healthy digestion and glucose production.
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