Fiber: Follow the 5-to-1 Rule for Packaged Foods

 

When people think fiber, they think constipation. And it’s true: If we could get Americans to eat just the minimum recommended daily intake of fiber-containing foods, we could save our country $80 billion—and that’s just from the effects on constipation alone. But that’s not all. “Accumulating evidence indicates that greater dietary fiber intakes reduce risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, weight gain, obesity, and diverticular disease, as well as functional constipation.” So, we need to eat more fiber-rich foods, which means eating more whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes (beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils).

As fiber intake goes up, the risk of metabolic syndrome appears to go down, with less inflammation and an apparent step-wise drop in obesity risk. It’s therefore no surprise that greater dietary fiber intake is associated with a lower risk of heart disease: There is a 9 percent lower risk for every additional 7 grams a day of total fiber consumed, which is just some rice and beans or a few servings of fruits and veggies.

How does fiber do its magic? What are the mechanisms by which dietary fiber may extend our lifespan? It helps get rid of excess bile, feeds our good bacteria, and changes our gut hormones, which collectively helps control our cholesterol, body weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease. Reducing inflammation is a whole other mechanism by which fiber may help prevent chronic disease.

An accompanying editorial to a fiber and heart disease meta-analysis implored doctors to “enthusiastically and skil[l]fully recommend that patients consume more dietary fibre”––which means a lot of whole plant foods. If we do buy something packaged, however, the first word in the ingredients list should be “whole.” But, even if it is, the rest of the ingredients could be junk. A second strategy is to look at the ratio of grams of carbohydrates to grams of dietary fiber. We’re looking for about 5 to 1 or less. For example, whole-wheat Wonder Bread passes the first test: The first word in its ingredients list is “whole.” However, it then includes corn syrup and the contents of a chemistry set. So, let’s see if it passes the 5-to-1 rule.

In my video The 5-to-1 Fiber Rule. I show examples of some Nutrition Facts labels. The whole-wheat Wonder Bread lists 20 grams of carbs and 2.7 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Dividing the carbohydrates by the dietary fiber, 20 divided by 2.7, is about 7, which is obviously more than 5, so back it goes onto the shelf. It’s better than white Wonder Bread, though, which comes in at over 18. Ezekiel sprouted grain bread, however, makes the cut: 15 divided by 3 equals 5.

You can do the same thing with breakfast cereal. Multi-Grain Cheerios sounds healthy but has a ratio over 7. Uncle Sam original cereal is an example of one that makes the cut, sliding in under 4.

The editorial concluded that the “recommendation to consume diets with adequate amounts of dietary fibre may turn out to be the most important nutritional recommendation of all.”


I love producing videos about practical, day-to-day decision-making. Next time you go to the grocery store, look for products that fit the 5-to-1 ratio rule. They aren’t easy to find!

Eating fiber-rich foods is more than just a way to avoid constipation. For example, watch my videos Fiber vs. Breast Cancer and How to Prevent a Stroke.

There’s a misconception that we can’t digest fiber. We can’t do it alone, but we can with a little help from our gut flora friends. See Prebiotics: Tending Our Inner Garden and Gut Microbiome: Strike It Rich with Whole Grains.

This isn’t to downplay all the suffering caused by constipation. Check out How Many Bowel Movements Should You Have Every Day? and Should You Sit, Squat, or Lean During a Bowel Movement? to learn more.

Isn’t this talk of fiber reductionist? Good question! So good, in fact, that I created an entire video about it. See Is the Fiber Theory Wrong?.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

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Moderation Kills

Image Credit: Pixabay

However, as Dr. Esselstyn wrote in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, in regard to cholesterol lowering, moderation kills. “Even if all Americans kept their total cholesterol below 200 mg/dL, as recommended by the American Heart Association, millions would develop coronary artery disease.” Strong evidence shows we need to keep our total cholesterol under 150 mg/dL in order to stem the American epidemic of coronary artery disease, our number-one killer. What kind of evidence? In many cultures, coronary artery disease is practically unheard of when total serum cholesterol levels are under 150 mg/dL. In the United States, the famous Framingham Heart Study demonstrated that few of those with levels below 150 mg/dL developed heart disease, and none died from it.

What if we don’t want just low risk for a heart attack, but no risk? One great stumbling block has been that government and national health organizations appear to have taken the patronizing view that the public can’t handle the truth and would rather the science be watered down.

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Organic versus Conventional: Which has More Nutrients?

Written By Michael Greger M.D. FACLM 

Are organic foods safer and healthier than conventional alternatives? Those are two separate questions. Some consumers are interested in getting more nutrients; others are more concerned about getting fewer pesticides. Let’s do nutrition first.

As seen in my video, Are Organic Foods More Nutritious?, hundreds of studies have been reviewed and researchers didn’t find significant differences for most of the traditional nutrients like vitamins and minerals. They concluded that despite the widespread perception that organically produced foods are more nutritious, they didn’t find robust evidence to support that perception. They did, however, find higher levels of phenolic phytonutrients in organic. [Read more…]

Food Facts on Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables help prevent heart disease by preventing plaque build-up, improving blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and increasing intake of antioxidants.

Neal Barnard, M.D.

 

The Benefits of Social Support for Your Healthy Lifestyle

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Social norms and societal modeling and expectations contribute an overall context that promotes certain eating behaviors. However, when making specific dietary and lifestyle choices, like exercise, reactions from close friends and family—positive or negative—also exert a profound influence. We are social creatures who live naturally in community. Making healthy lifestyle choices flows naturally out of feeling connected to the people around you. The degree of social connection or isolation you feel may even influence something as basic as the variety in your diet. In a large, observational study of 20,000+ adults over age 50, being single, widowed, or having less frequent contact with friends was associated with less variety of fruit and vegetable intake,[1]and it got worse for people who lived alone and also had less frequent contact with friends—they had even less variety than in those who were just single. [Read more…]

Vegetarian Diets Aid Fitness

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Vegetarian diets aid aerobic exercises, according to a study published in Nutrients. Researchers followed the diets of 70 participants and monitored strength and endurance patterns. Athletic performance from those who followed vegetarian diets matched or exceeded those who followed omnivorous diets despite no differences in protein intake as relative to body mass index. These data suggest vegetarian eating patterns provide sufficient cardiorespiratory and oxygen efficiency for athletic activity and may provide advantages over nonvegetarian diets.

4th Annual International Plant-based Nutrition Healthcare Conference

4th-Annual-International-Plant-based-Nutrition-Healthcare-Conference

Join Fit Fathers for the 4th annual Int’l Plant-based Nutrition Healthcare Conference set for September 21-24, 2016 at the Anaheim Marriott in Anaheim, California. Earn up to 24 CMEs and enjoy nine delicious plant-based meals, as you learn from luminaries like Dr. Ornish, Campbell, Esselstyn, Greger and many of the other leading experts in preventive, nutritional medicine.  With a keen focus on the evidence that supports the efficacy, learn the “How” of effectively integrating food as medicine into your practice.

Promoting whole food, plant-based nutrition as a therapeutic intervention to prevent, arrest and reverse disease is the greatest gift you can give to your patients—the gift of health, hope and healing.  It’s the prescription with only positive side effects!

Take advantage of introductory pricing that expires on May 9! Register now! For more information, visit http://pbnhc.com.  Questions? Write info@pbnhc.com or call (203) 594-1632.

Who should attend?

Physicians representing each and every practice specialty area, nurses and all allied health practitioners—those who are dedicated to empowering patients and clients with the ultimate prescription. Visit www.pbnhc.com, watch videos of last year’s attendees and faculty members, and register to be part of a medical education event that many have said was “life changing”— for themselves, for their families and for their medical practices and patients.

Conference Faculty

Learn from the leading experts and researchers about the preventive and healing power of plant-based nutrition. Speakers include:

Robynne Chutkan, MD, author of bestsellers Gutbliss and The Microbiome Solution. She has been on the faculty of Georgetown University Hospital since 1997 and is the founder of the Digestive Center for Women, an integrative gastroenterology practice that incorporates nutritional optimization as part of the therapeutic approach of digestive disorders.

Bharat Aggarwal, PhD, author of the bestseller Healing Spices is a Ransome Horne, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Cancer Research, Professor of Cancer Medicine, Professor of Immunology, Professor of Biochemistry and Professor of Experimental Therapeutics with the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Brenda Davis, RD has worked as a public health nutritionist, clinical nutrition specialist, nutrition consultant and academic nutrition instructor; she’s a leader in her field and internationally acclaimed speaker. The nine award-winning, bestselling books she’s co-authored have over 750,000 copies in print in eight languages.

William C. Roberts, MD has been editor in chief of the American Journal of Cardiology since 1982 and is executive director of the Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute of Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX. Having published over 1400 articles, authored or edited 24 books and lectured in over 2000 cities, he is the most prolific oral historian of cardiology in history.

With nearly 600 in attendance at last year’s event, we look forward to yet another exceptional medical education event, focused on the science that overwhelmingly supports the efficacy of whole food, plant-based nutrition in its ability to prevent, treat, and, often, reverse chronic and select autoimmune disease.

CME Accreditation

CME Accreditation for The International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference has been coordinated by Rush University Medical Center, which is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. Rush University Medical Center designates this educational activity for a maximum of 24 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s) TM. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the educational activity. For more information, visit the Faculty & Accreditation section at www.pbnhc.com.

4th Annual International Plant-based Nutrition Healthcare Conference

Location

The quality of the conference is reflected in the exceptional caliber of the host venue, the Anaheim Marriott, located in Anaheim, California. Arrive early or stay after the conference to take a trip to the beach, play at Disneyland or explore southern California. Learn from the leading experts and researchers about the preventive and healing power of plant-based nutrition.

Delicious, health-promoting, gourmet cuisine

The conference kicks off on Wednesday evening with the official Welcome Dinner, concluding on Saturday, following lunch. In all, nine delicious, chef-prepared plant-based meals are included in your conference registration, served at a venue that’s second to none.

On behalf of our entire Plantrician Project team, we look forward to seeing you in September in beautiful Southern California!

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Vitamin C for Breakfast

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Yes, breakfast can be considered the most important meal of the day, but that doesn’t mean it has to be drawn out into 700 to 900 caloric meals. So, as I sat down and bit into my juicy, organic mango and orange for breakfast I could only smile knowing that my body was ingesting alkalizing purity. Plus those two pieces of fruits were satiating and collectively less than 200 calories.

In comparison to a SAD (Standard American Diet) morning meal — which is slowly killing the population by way of chronic illness such as heart disease — there is absolutely no semblance between health degrading eggs, bacon and biscuits in relation to the promotion of fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Potassium. Oh, let’s not forget the cholesterol you avoid when eating foods that grow opposed to those that are born. This nurturing meal provided glucose to kick in my metabolism and delivered enough energy to jumpstart the day, which was all I needed. Especially since the body’s glycogen reserves can be called upon as needed for exercise or an active morning.

Moreover, since only 2% or so of the American population meet the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for fiber, you should include this roughage in every meal whether it’s a fruit, vegetable or whole grains. Like a broom, fiber sweeps your GIT (gastrointestinal tract) clean and helps reduce cholesterol. Plus all this Vitamin C in these oranges and mangoes is purifying to my cells and has strengthened my immune system.

As always, eat clean, stay active and energize your life. It’s a Fit Fathers mantra and way of life.

– Kimatni D. Rawlins –

A Quick Message on Nutritional Freedom

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As parents it is imperative that we lead by example so our children become the example. Far too often we take life for granted and fail to improve our quality of living until bad news is received from the doctor’s office. But, why wait for degenerative diseases to strike?

IMG_6918Why not eat more fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes now to prevent clogged arteries and reduce attacks from mutated cancer cells? If we know that sugar and saturated fat enhances the odds of diabetes, why indulge in soda, candy bars and pastries? If we are aware that our bones, muscles, lungs and hearts are strengthened through routine exercise, then why lead a sedentary life? We should be running, walking, swimming or biking on most days. Instinctually, kids will follow their parents’ lead and develop life-enhancing habits opposed to behaviors that increase life degradation. Instead of sugary drinks teach them how to make homemade smoothies or freshly pressed juices with their favorites fruits. Water, ice, flaxseed, banana, mango, kale and berries always do the trick. Try almonds and walnuts (good amount of Omega 3) over chips. My kids happen to love SeaSnax seaweed snacks which is a learned habit we initiated. How about an avocado pudding instead of ice cream? Banana, almond or peanut butter bagels (whole grain of course) are also a hit. Simply spread the nut butter on a toasted bagel and top with slices of bananas. Apples and nut butter are also a treat. And when all else fails just give them some watermelon or a mango and call it a day.

Kimatni D Rawlins, Founder, Fit Fathers

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Arugula on the Water

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Whether it’s broccoli on the beach or salads at the pool, eating anything green during vacation tanning time or games of Marco Polo seems sacrilegious to both your kids and onlookers. The theme is always a fresh cup of cold cola, burgers and french fries, which is the problem right there. Well, we think otherwise. Traveling is when you should attempt to increase intakes of fruits, veggies and whole grains because the equation is already set up for failure. Fast food and more fast food has been dominating human habit since its invention. So next time your little one asks for soda and a basket of fries, bless them with a glass of water and garden of purity. Trust us they will adapt. Eat clean!