About Lynn

lynn jaffeeLynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist and the author of the book, Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health, a clear and concise explanation of Chinese medicine for the lay person. She is co-author of the book, The BodyWise Woman, a personal health manual for physically active women and girls. Read more about Lynn...

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Nuts, Twigs, and Berries

OK, nobody wants to talk about this, but it’s important. The word for today is fiber. That’s right—roughage—nuts, twigs, berries, and whole grains, and why they’re good for you. Fiber is the indigestible part of the plant foods you eat, and it’s your best friend.

 A traditional Chinese diet is naturally high in fiber. According to Chinese dietary therapy, an ideal diet in general is one that is heavy on vegetables and whole grains, with smaller amounts of animal protein and fats.

Fiber should be on your “Must Eat” list for a number of reasons. For anyone watching their weight, fiber is your pal because it helps you feel full and curbs your appetite. Essentially, you feel like you’ve eaten more when you eat high-fiber foods.

Fiber also aids the digestive process by helping food move through your gut. It gives bulk to your stools and decreases the risk of polyps, colon cancer, and diverticulitis (little pockets in your colon where food can get trapped). Fiber can also increase your levels of good cholesterol and decrease your bad cholesterol. Also, as you digest fiber, the good bacteria in your gut are also increased.

One of the reasons fiber is so beneficial is because it binds to stuff, like carcinogens, heavy metals, and pesticides in the foods you eat. However, fiber also binds to the minerals in your food, so you may want to separate the time between a high fiber meal and one that is rich in calcium (or when you take vitamin supplements).

There are two different kinds of fiber, one of which is called soluble fiber. This means that it can take on water and bulk up your stool. Soluble fiber is the kind that’s really good for decreasing cholesterol and improving heart health. Oat bran is a really good source of soluble fiber, but it is also found in high amounts in apples, spinach, almonds, and cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli.

The other kind of fiber is insoluble. Insoluble fiber doesn’t degrade as much in the gut as soluble fiber, but you need it for digestion. It helps move food through your gut, and helps “scrub” clean your intestinal tract. A good source of insoluble fiber is wheat bran.

Your daily goal for fiber should be about 25 grams, and the amount of fiber in a food is listed on its label. As you increase the amount of fiber in your diet, take it easy at first. Give your body some time to get used to the extra roughage. You may experience some bloating and gas until you get used to the increase, but you will get used to it.

My tips for fiber intake are simple:

-Get enough. Your body will thank you!

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