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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Prevent Heart Disease!

Atherosclerosis often starts in childhood, 20 years before a formal diagnosis. Vascular physiologist Michael Skilton, Ph.D., with the University of Sydney’s Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise, and Eating Disorders, suspects it starts in utero, based on the effect parents’ dietary choices have on the development of endothelial function, or development of cells that line the arteries.

Eat smarter people including the increased intake of whole grains, fiber, fruits, veggies, seeds, beans (legumes), nuts, and water. And of course eliminate or reduce foods that destruct like soda, fast foods, enriched foods, alcohol, saturated fats and cholesterol infused foods.

According to the American Society of Nutrition, 97 percent of adults fall short on recommended dietary fiber intake, a nutrient only found in plants, with adults and teens consuming roughly half of the government’s recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.5 Only 13 percent of adults consume 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit, and just 9 percent eat 2 to 3 cups of vegetables each day. Our nation’s dietary patterns help illustrate why one-third of adults have elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure, and why two-thirds struggle with excess weight, three leading risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

The good news is that a plant-based dietary intervention is even more effective than today’s leading medications to treat and prevent heart disease, thanks to a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, soy products, fiber, and phytochemicals and a reduced intake of saturated fats and cholesterol. About half of Americans, even those who maintain a healthful weight, still have at least one modifiable risk factor, such as high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol, for chronic disease. Integrating diet and other lifestyle changes—exercise, maintaining a healthful weight, avoiding tobacco, and limiting alcohol consumption—leaves consumers with only desirable side effects and can prevent around 80 percent of all premature heart disease cases.

It’s never too late to start: Studies show heart-attack survivors who adopt a high-fiber diet reduce the risk of a recurrence by about 40 percent, compared to survivors who make no dietary changes.

Full story: http://www.pcrm.org/health/heart/treat-and-prevent-atherosclerosis

Fit Fathers 7-Day “Fruit & Veggie” Spring Break

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Motivation = Dedication = Reinvention!

Hello friends and family. Please join Fit Fathers for 7 days of purity while consuming fresh, organic fruits and vegetables to clean out the gastrointestinal (GI) and prepare the body for a new spring season. Additionally, the goal is to increase our fiber intake as well as vitamin, mineral and antioxidant quantities. Without the added fat in the diet the body will begin burning fat pockets hanging around our glands, organs and stomach. Continuing exercise will further reduce or melt away the additional adipose fat.

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Heart Healthy Lunches

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As fathers one of the best joys is nourishing your kids with the healthiest foods possible. So today we made a heart healthy lunch that left them all smiling and fully satisfied. The medley of fruits, veggies, beans and whole grains included Japanese buckwheat soba noodles; sliced mangos; sliced oranges; steamed broccoli; romaine salad with flaxseed, mushrooms, tomatoes and onions; steamed sweet potatoes; celery and almond butter; and scrambled tofu, kale and
onions. We were very proud of ourselves with this one!

Be the Change!

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This is what we gave them at Fit Fathers​ Day. If it is nutritional change your are seeking then of course you have to spearhead the change. Don’t give in to temptation over what others might perceive because it’s open to public opinion. How can you say a health event was hosted when soda, chips and candy bars were served? And guess what, the fruit was gone by the end of the celebration. #EatClean #FitFathers

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Eat More Fiber

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No matter your dietary staple — be it vegetarian or paleo — try to eat 5 to 7 pieces of fruits and veggies daily. The fiber reduces cholesterol and cleans your digestive system like a broom and mop, which ultimately fights to reduce chronic diseases such as colon cancer. Plus the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in each serves to enhance health by alkalizing the body and fighting off free radicals.

Mango Halves

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We love eating mangos in the traditional fashion by peeling and getting wet and juicy, but also at times, appreciate them split in half. The simple and value priced slicer parts perfectly around the seed for two well-balanced portions. This method also allows you to cut and dice your mangos for fruit salads or blending into smoothies. The fruit tool can be found on Amazon at a Target or similar home goods retailers. Enjoy!

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A Word On Change

Jamiaca_2013_Reggae_Sumfest_Half_Moon....14Words by Kimatni D. Rawlins

When positive change is desired one must restructure their entire mechanism of thinking. Not only must they follow those that have made successful transitions, but also become their own motivator and inspiration. They must bask in the glory of their physical, spiritual and healthful accomplishments and let go of those that oppose the transition while seeking like minds walking or running the same journey. I’m passionate about healthy evolutions due to the fact that I didn’t have someone guiding me on proper nutrition and fitness regimens. I crew up in Camden, NJ where poverty and lack of anything sustainable for a healthy life was null and void. Yet I thrived due to my thirst for knowledge and truth. [Read more…]

Fit Fathers 7-Day Juice Detox

IMG_2440Why Juice? Though juicing disregards the fiber from fruits and veggies its benefits are plentiful. Vitamins and minerals are absorbed directly into the blood stream without the fiber, which slows digestion and absorption. Juicing heals and repairs tissue, strengthens the immune system, and gives the digestion system and liver a well-deserved break. But most of all, a juice detox forces toxins out the body which in-turn encourages fat lost, since the body actually produces additional fat just to store and protect you from these toxins. Reduced toxins equals less body fat. Also juicing allows organs to temporarily vacation. [Read more…]

Loose Weight, Gain Energy and Feel Fresh!

Fit Fathers Devoted DadsStep 1) Reduce intake of sugary liquids like soda and energy drinks by 50% or completely. Replace with water or freshly blended juices.

Step 2) Stay active at least 30 minutes a day 4-6 days a week. Running, swimming, cycling, lifting, circuit training, speed walking, etc.

Step 3) Leave meat off of your plate for at least one meal a day. Replace with a whole grain/legume combo like brown rice and beans or quinoa & lentils. Your digestive system will thank you.

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