Plants for Fiber and Disease Prevention

The connection between eating a plant-based diet and better health has been well documented, as well as the connection between fiber consumption and health.  Connect the dots by remembering that the only way you get fiber is through plants, and the more plants you eat, the more fiber you take in.

There was a study published in The Lancet in February 2019 that examined data from 185 studies and 58 clinical trials and compared those people who had the highest intake of fiber with those who had the lowest.  They concluded that a high fiber diet resulted in a 15% – 30% decrease in all causes of mortality, as well as coronary heart disease, stroke incidence and mortality, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer.  They found that those with the highest intake of fiber also showed significantly lower body weight, blood pressure, and total cholesterol.  The higher intake of fiber ranged from 25 to 29 grams daily, and the more fiber people ate, the more protection they had against cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal and breast cancers.  There were similar benefits gained from eating whole grains.

Fiber is an indigestible plant-based carbohydrate and is either soluble or insoluble.  Soluble fiber absorbs water in the digestive tract and forms a gel-like substance.  It helps remove bad LDL cholesterol and it also helps keep blood sugar levels stable by slowing sown digestion and helping to prevent sharp spikes in blood sugar.  Some soluble fibers also serve as prebiotics to feed the good gut bacteria because they are fermentable in the colon.  Insoluble fiber acts as roughage in the digestive tract and speeds up the movement and processing of waste, helping to prevention constipation and intestinal blockages, as well as reducing the risk of colon problems and colorectal cancer.  All fiber helps you feel full longer, so you eat less and manage your weight better.

By increasing your consumption of plants, you automatically get more fiber.  Following these guidelines will also help increase the amount of fiber you get:

  • Choose whole, unrefined grains instead of processed ones like white rice and white flour or pasta
  • Eat whole fruits and vegetables instead of juices, and keep the peels and skins on whenever possible
  • Eat beans, peas,  and lentils often, daily if possible
  • Snack on nuts and seeds, as well as adding them to smoothies or sprinkling them on salads or yogurt
  • Avoid packaged, processed foods
  • Eat the rainbow, including dark green leafy vegetables, berries, cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, yellow and orange plants like sweet potato and pumpkin, as well as mushrooms, onions, garlic, spices, and herbs.

Make the fiber/plant/disease prevention connection with every meal you eat.

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