The Key Nutrient for Weight Loss, Lowering Cholesterol, and Controlling Blood Sugar

When you think of nutrients, do you think of vitamins and minerals?  These are essential components of a healthy diet — and best consumed in whole food form, rather than from supplements in most cases.  Something else we don’t always think of as a nutrient, but is just as critical to health, is dietary fiber.

When you hear “fiber,” you may think of a bottle of Metamucil, to help with constipation.  While it’s certainly true that that is a benefit of a fiber supplement, whole food sources are much better.  Supplements tend to contain just one kind of fiber, called insoluble fiber, which helps to clean out the bowels – that by itself is important to health and quality of life.  But you can go beyond that:  Whole food sources of soluble fiber are associated with obesity prevention, lower blood cholesterol, better blood sugar control, and even lower risk of colon and breast cancer.

So how much is enough?  Most Americans get about 8-14 grams of fiber per day, but even mainstream nutritional guidelines recommend 25-35 grams per day!  If you’re eating the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.), start working on increasing your fiber intake to improve your health.  This is best done gradually, to avoid digestive upset.  Also, don’t just reach for a fiber supplement — make fiber-rich foods a part of your daily diet:

  • Vegetables
  • Flaxseed (grind 2 Tablespoons daily)
  • Pears, prunes, pineapple
  • Legumes (beans)
  • Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts)
Pots and Pans
If you’ve read my blog or heard me speak, you know I’m an advocate of eating whole, natural foods as the best path to health — no matter what specific diet you follow.  The one thing that eating more healthy foods from scratch requires is more time in the kitchen.  Just think of it — up till about 70 years ago, folks didn’t have a choice but to spend a good chunk of the day cooking.  The advent of fast food and processed “convenience” foods brought with them the promise of “freedom” — the word that makes every American heart sing.
But what are we free to do?  Spend more time on our butts in front of the TV or computer?  My very busy family manages to find time to fit home-cooked meals into our daily schedule — it’s just a matter of readjusting priorities.  And in the evening, when it’s my turn to do the dishes, I reflect on how this is not just a chore — it’s part of the gift of good health for my family.

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