FIBER PRAISE FOR THE INDIGESTIBLE

From a health standpoint, one of the wonderful things about eating fruits and vegetables is that they contain much you can’t digest. Many of the substances that give plants their strength and flexibility aren’t broken down by the acids and enzymes in the human stomach or intestines. These substances, generically called fiber, include cellulose, pectin, and gums. There are two classes of fiber—soluble and insoluble. Both pass through the digestive system largely untouched. The big difference is that soluble fiber dissolves in the intestinal fluid, while insoluble fiber doesn’t.Soluble fiber is plentiful in peas, apples, and citrus fruits, as well as in oats and other grains and seeds. It forms a sticky, gooey, Jell-O-like mass as it passes through the intestines. This gummy substance traps cholesterol-rich bile acids and carries them out of the body in the stool. The more cholesterol you excrete, the less is available for transfer into the blood and the lower your serum cholesterol. The lower your cholesterol, the lower your risk of heart disease and other circulatory problems.
Insoluble fiber comes from the cell walls of plants. The main component is cellulose, a long string of glucose molecules linked in a way the human digestive system can’t separate and that can’t dissolve in the intestine’s fluids.

In this article from the Food Properties section, we take a look at all the necessary information about this topic. Stay with 4teenweightloss .

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Thirty years ago, research among the Bantu people of South Africa suggested that their high-fiber diet was responsible for their low rate of colon cancer. As insoluble fiber passes unchanged through the intestine, so the thinking went, it carries along partly digested food, and by speeding the passage of food through the digestive system, it may reduce the intestine’s exposure to toxic or cancer-causing substances found in food. After a few small studies showed much the same thing, the fiber craze was on. Media reports prompted many of us to start crunching through bran flakes or bran muffins for breakfast, and food manufacturers began adding fiber to cereals, breads, and pastries. In reality, though, most studies did not show lower colon cancer risks among persons who ate higher amounts of fiber from grain products. In a detailed look at this issue, women in the Nurses’ Health Study were followed for up to sixteen years. Those who consumed the most fiber, no matter what the sources, did not have lower risks of colon cancer or colon polyps, which are tiny growths from which most cancers arise. This larger study was followed by two randomized trials in which fiber supplements and a high-fiber/low-fat diet were compared with control groups. In neither case did the higher fiber intake reduce the recurrence of new polyps. Taking these findings together, high-fiber diets do not appear to be an effective way to reduce colon cancer risk.
Despite the disappointments for colon cancer, don’t throw out the All-Bran and stock up on Wonder Bread. By dragging partly digested food through the intestine, insoluble fiber delays the absorption of sugars and starch. This helps blunt the spikes in blood sugar and insulin that occur after eating foods that are easily converted into glucose and a similar spike in triglycerides, particles that ferry fat from the intestine to the tissues. Consistently high levels of insulin and triglycerides in the blood increase the chances of having a heart attack, and the repeated demand for large amounts of insulin can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

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PHYTONUTRIENTS AT WORK

How fruits and vegetables protect the human system from certain cancers, heart disease, gastrointestinal problems like diverticulitis, or age-related eye diseases is still something of a mystery. Although we’ve been eating plants for aeons and seriously studying them for decades, what we know today is the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
Identifying the benefits of fruits and vegetables has been a challenging job, especially since plants have tremendous nutritional variability. A single type of plant, say, a Best Boy tomato, isn’t a stable, well-defined entity. Instead its chemical composition varies with the season, the soil in which it grew, the amount of water it got, what pests it had to withstand, how ripe it was when picked and eaten, and under what conditions it was stored. What’s more, the nutrients it delivers depend on how it is processed or cooked.
It will be decades before we have identified all of the complex compounds in food and even longer before we truly understand how they interact with one another and what they do in our bodies. Even so, scientists have isolated a number of substances that plants make or store that may play critical roles in keeping us healthy. These include the following:
• Vitamins. The first set of phytochemicals discovered were what we call vitamins today. By definition, vitamins are carbon-containing compounds that the body needs in small amounts to maintain tissue and keep metabolism humming. Vitamins have traditionally been defined by studying diseases of deficiency, things like rickets (too little vitamin D), pellagra (not enough niacin), and beri-beri (not enough thiamine). More and more it looks as though cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other chronic diseases are, in part, diseases of deficiency. Exactly what the deficiencies are is the focus of intense research. Inadequate intake of folic acid is emerging as a potential risk factor for heart disease and some cancers. Low consumption of a special class of vitamins known as antioxidants, which capture and neutralize free radicals, appears to be involved in the early stages of heart disease, cancer, aging-related eye disease, dementia, and possibly aging itself. (See chapter 10.) Perhaps some of the known or yet to be discovered phytochemicals will earn vitamin status for preventing these diseases. Or perhaps we should just consider whole fruits and vegetables as vitamins, given their already proven ability to prevent these new diseases of deficiency.

FIBER PRAISE FOR THE INDIGESTIBLE

• Essential elements. Plants are excellent sources of potassium, magnesium, and other elements the body needs for a host of critical tasks. Magnesium and potassium help control blood pressure and may reduce the risk of fatal rhythm disturbances of the heart.
• Plant hormones. The Food and Drug Administration has given food manufacturers the go-ahead to claim in ads and on packages that eating protein from soybeans lowers the risk of heart disease. One group of compounds found in soy, the isoflavones, can mimic or inhibit the hormone estrogen. (See chapter 6.) Another group, the phytosterols, can influence the absorption and metabolism of cholesterol.

OUR HEALTH DEPENDS ON PLANTS

The diet we eat today doesn’t look a thing like the diet our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate over hundreds of thousands of years. They probably relied on a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, scrabbling to pick and eat whatever edible

morsels they could find. It is very possible that, over time, humans became metabolically dependent on dozens, if not hundreds, of compounds made by plants. These phytochemicals help detoxify the harmful chemicals found in plants; help some of our enzymes fight cancer, infection, and other cellular disruption; and help others repair cellular damage. So far, only a small number of these compounds have been labeled as essential nutrients.
“Vegetables and fruits contain the anticarcinogenic cocktail to which we are adapted,” writes noted cancer researcher John Potter. “We abandon it at our peril.”

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PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE

There isn’t any magic daily number or combination of fruits and vegetables for optimal health. Instead, I offer two words of advice: more and different.
• Aim high. Use five servings a day as a minimum goal and shoot for more. In the DASH study described on page 138, the target of nine servings a day was definitely beneficial.
• Eat for variety and for color. On most days try to get at least one serving from each of the following fruit and vegetable categories:
• dark green, leafy vegetables
• yellow or orange fruits and vegetables
• red fruits and vegetables
• legumes (beans) and peas
• citrus fruits
• Cook your tomatoes. Treat yourself to tomatoes, processed tomatoes, or tomato products cooked in oil on most days. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that has been linked with lower rates of a variety of cancers, particularly lung, stomach, and prostate cancer. Because lycopene is tightly bound inside cell walls, your body has a hard time extracting it from raw tomatoes.

Cooking breaks down cell walls, and oil dissolves lycopene and helps shuttle it into the bloodstream.
• Fresh is better. Eat several servings of fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables each week because cooking damages or destroys some important phytochemicals. Vitamin C and folic acid, for example, are sensitive to heat. Otherwise the physical state of the fruits and vegetables you eat doesn’t much matter. Frozen fruits and vegetables are nearly as good as fresh ones and may even be more nutritious than “fresh” fruits and vegetables that have been stored for weeks or months under conditions that prevent ripening. Canned fruits and vegetables are usually fine, though many come loaded with salt and added sugar.

source: www.healthline.com

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