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Good morning everyone!

A recurring theme in my series is that I've discovered that the strategies I've been using to simply eat less calories turn out to be pretty much the same strategies for eating an overall healthy diet.  Which is a good thing, too, because I was in danger of becoming a victim of some silent killers: high cholesterol & triglycerides, high blood pressure, high blood sugars, etc etc.

So, pretty much all I did was try to eat fewer calories, and I ended up losing 40 pounds (in five months) and currently have all the above measures (cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and sugars) within normal range.

WHEE (Weight, Health, Eating and Exercise) is a community support diary for Kossacks who . . .

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WHEE (Weight, Health, Eating and Exercise) is a community support diary for Kossacks who are currently or planning to start losing, gaining or maintaining their weight through diet and exercise or fitness. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. If you are working on your weight or fitness, please -- join us! You can also click the WHEE tag to view all diary posts.

In short -- my problem was that I had a voracious appetite, and I wanted to figure out how to eat less.  E.g., previously I wrote about eating more, but smaller meals.  Among my other discoveries, and today's topic is Fiber.

Now -- I'm no expert, and so I welcome corrections please.  What I'm writing here is my limited understanding.

In my last edition -- part 4 the Carb edition -- I discussed eating fewer simple carbs in one sitting, because if you have too many simple carbs, your body will get hungrier sooner, which is the opposite of what I wanted.  (Eating fewer simple carbs in a sitting also has numerous health benefits).

Another simple strategy to feeling less hungry -- as well as to stretch out the time it takes your body to convert those carbs to sugar -- is to consume carbs with fiber.  Furthermore, fiber makes you feel fuller, and you end up eating less later.

Fiber is a very complex carbohydrate, and is, essentially, indigestible.  It is present in all, and only in, plants, in various degrees.  Wikipedia notes:

Dietary fiber can be soluble (able to dissolve in water) or insoluble (not able to dissolve in water). Soluble fiber, like all fiber, cannot be digested. But it does change as it passes through the digestive tract, being transformed (fermented) by bacteria there. Soluble fiber also absorbs water to become a gelatinous substance that passes through the body. Insoluble fiber has bulking action but is mostly unchanged by fermentation as it passes through the body.

OK, so, fine: I want to eat more fiber because it will make me less hungry.  WebMD writes: "Fiber has been shown to increase satiety, not only by lowering the energy density of foods (that is, how many calories they have per serving) but also by slowing the rate that foods pass through the digestive systems."

So sign me up -- I'll eat more fiber, so I can eat less, and keep my calories down.

And then, lo and behold, it turns out that fiber does so much more!

I'm sorry I didn't leave myself enough time to learn enough to explain exactly why all this is true.  But here's the bottom line . . . Fiber is almost like a wonder drug!

In March 2009 "Health benefits of dietary fiber" was published in Nutrition Reviews, Volume 67, Issue 4, 2009. Pages: 188–205.

Here's the opening to the conclusion of that article:

A high level of fiber intake has health-protective effects and disease-reversal benefits. Persons who consume generous amounts of dietary fiber, compared to those who have minimal fiber intake, are at lower risk for developing CHD [Coronary Heart Disease], stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. Increasing the intake of high-fiber foods or fiber supplements improves serum lipoprotein values, lowers blood pressure, improves blood glucose control for diabetic individuals, aids weight loss, and improves regularity. Emerging research indicates that intake of inulin and certain soluble fibers enhances immune function in humans.

Can you imagine?  Fiber does all that?  And all I wanted, initially, was to feel less hungry!

The article further notes: "The recommended acceptable intakes of dietary fiber for adults are 28 g/day for women and 36 g/day for men. Recent estimates suggest that the mean intakes of dietary fiber for adults in the United States are less than half of these recommended levels."

UPDATE: (from NC Dem, below, in the comments) - NC Dem informs us that the recommended amounts for fiber should be 14g per 1000 calories.  If anyone's interested, I found a source for this figure here, at a Harvard Med School site.

Where to get fiber:

The American Diabetes Association has some good sources, as well as advice:

Good sources of dietary fiber include:

   * Fruits and vegetables, especially those with edible skin (for example, apples, corn and beans) and those with edible seeds (for example, berries).

   * Whole grains such as:
       -- whole wheat pasta
       -- whole grain cereals (Look for those with three grams of dietary fiber or more per serving, including those made from whole wheat, wheat bran, and oats.)
       -- whole grain breads (To be a good source of fiber, one slice of bread should have at least three grams of fiber. Another good indication: look for breads where the first ingredient is a whole grain. For example, whole wheat or oats.)

   * Beans and legumes. Think black beans, kidney beans, pintos, chick peas (garbanzos), white beans, and lentils.

   * Nuts -- try different kinds. Peanuts, walnuts and almonds are a good source of fiber and healthy fat, but watch portion sizes, because they also contain a lot of calories in a small amount.

In general, an excellent source of fiber contains five grams or more per serving, while a good source of fiber contains 2.5 - 4.9 grams per serving.

It is best to get your fiber from food rather than taking a supplement. In addition to the fiber, these foods have a wealth of nutrition, containing many important vitamins and minerals. In fact, they may contain nutrients that haven't even been discovered yet!

It is also important that you increase your fiber intake gradually, to prevent stomach irritation, and that you increase your intake of water and other liquids, to prevent constipation.

Bottom line -- all that stuff they said about eating your fruits and vegetables, and whole grains?  It turns out they were right!

In fact, about the only thing they got wrong was they underestimated just how beneficial this stuff is!

And so, once again, I'm lead to the same observation: that my strategies for simply trying to eat less calories seems to be forcing me to eat in an overall healthful way.

(Another resource: 6 Foods and Tips for More Fiber)

Please volunteer to write for WHEE!

Scheduled WHEE diaries:
October 29
Thurs PM - leevank

October 30
Fri AM - Ed G
Fri PM  sychoticI

October 31
Sat AM - ???
Sat PM - Edward Spurlock (Kessler, Ch. 19)

November 1
Sun AM - kismet -- the calorie value of everyday tasks
Sun PM - Chico David RN

November 2
Mon AM - NC Dem- Muscle of the Month-Deltoids
Mon PM- ???

November 3
Tues AM - ???
Tues PM Clio2 (Kessler, Ch. 20)

November 4
Weds AM - ???
Weds PM - Edward Spurlock

November 5
Thrs AM - ???
Thrs AM - ???

Originally posted to A DC Wonk on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 09:06 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I am interested in this subject too. I went (6+ / 0-)

    on a fairly high fiber diet starting in late June and have lost 15 lbs. without trying very  hard and going off the diet occasionally (like for my birthday, etc.) I recently decided to go on a higher fiber diet. However, I  read that whole wheat can elevate glucose quickly, so I am staying away from grains even though I love them.

    Help Republicans make themselves irrelevant.

    by lecsmith on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 09:36:37 PM PDT

    •  Sprouts are great. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, NC Dem, Clio2, debbieleft, cdkipp

      I have sprouts 4 out of 5 days of the week. They become a lot more nutritious and I can eat them raw, or include them in salads, or stir fry soups and sandwiches. I do them myself. I sprout chick peas, mung beans, alfalfa, broccolli. There is often a colandar of something sprouting on the counter.

      Artificial Intelligence is the science of making machines do things that lead us to believe they are intelligent-Noel Sharkey

      by MarkMarvin on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 04:26:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  make that 4 out of 7 days a week. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        debbieleft, cdkipp

        I'm thinking work week.  

        Artificial Intelligence is the science of making machines do things that lead us to believe they are intelligent-Noel Sharkey

        by MarkMarvin on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 04:35:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Can you elaborate? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Oaktown Girl, Fabian, debbieleft, cdkipp

        Naive, newbie question:

        What does: "I sprout chick peas, mung beans, alfalfa, broccolli." mean?  How do you do it?  Etc.


        •  Probably a good website (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sychotic1, MarkMarvin, cdkipp

          somewhere but...

          In general you need a container with a mesh or screen top and some attention to detail.  Sprouting seeds is relatively easy, but you need to make sure you don't end up with mold (yuck!) or fermentation (yuck!).  
          It comes down to:
          soaking time (can vary greatly)

          Look up the specifics for each type of seed you want to sprout.  You are essentially germinating the seeds and seeds can be quite picky about the conditions they germinate under.  Some seeds come loaded with their own "hydrogel" which helps with germination under dry conditions.  If you are sprouting seeds, this leads to seeds which stick together in a slimy mass.  Solution: more rinsing than usual to wash off the gel.

          Overly warm temperatures in combination with poor germination usually lead to mold growth or fermentation.  

          Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

          by Fabian on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 07:47:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Basil seeds get slimy and look moldy too. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sychotic1, Fabian

            It is normal. As Fabian states:

            Some seeds come loaded with their own "hydrogel" which helps with germination under dry conditions.  If you are sprouting seeds, this leads to seeds which stick together in a slimy mass.  Solution: more rinsing than usual to wash off the gel.

            Or another solution is to mix them and make a drink.
            I make a drink from basil seeds similar to a type of "bubble tea" that is made in the East.

            Basil seeds are much smaller, but I add them to almond milk, sweetner and spice flavorings depending on my mood. I don't really sprout them. They add an interesting texture for the more adventurers among us. Basil seeds soaked in water serve some medicinal purpose in India--that is what I heard.

            Artificial Intelligence is the science of making machines do things that lead us to believe they are intelligent-Noel Sharkey

            by MarkMarvin on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 09:32:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  That is a pretty good question, really. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sychotic1, Fabian, cdkipp

          The small seeds I sprout in some mesh containers I purchased online. Now let me see if I can find that link.

          The Easy Sprouter

          Unfortunately lettuce seeds are so small they go through the mesh on the bottom, but this sprouter has two sizes of mesh that snap in the bottom.

          I soak seeds overnight, then drain and rinse again. And I rinse three times a day and place container on the windowsill above the kitchen sink.

          I quit paying $2.25 a box for alfalfa sprouts that last at most two days after being on a store shelf for a week.

          More on the big seeds in a moment.

          Artificial Intelligence is the science of making machines do things that lead us to believe they are intelligent-Noel Sharkey

          by MarkMarvin on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 08:47:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  why not write a diary about sprouting for us? n/t (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fabian, cdkipp
            •  Yes I am very interested. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sychotic1, Fabian

              Is this cheaper?   What is the germination rate? Where do you the seeds? Is it a lot of work? How much of you diet do these make up? Any recipes? Where do you live and what are the sunlight requirements? Once again Whee is opening a whole new area for me.

              I wrote the diary on green tea and then after the comments ended up spending $80.00 on loose leaf tea and accessories. So I was the one that learned and benefited!

        •  Ok now for the big seeds (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sychotic1, Fabian, cdkipp

          A good place to start is chick peas. Buy a bag of dried chick peas. Quality does vary, so you can be as selective as you want. Ordering special sprouting seeds is one way to do it.  But I buy at the local grocery store.

          Rinse what you want to sprout in large mixing bowl. There are floaters, which are sometimes errant stems, and once in a great while a small pebble in the bottom. Clean to your satisfaction throwing out dark brown seeds.

          Then soak overnight, on the counter in three times as much water as chickpeas.
          Next morning rinse again.  I rinse three times a day for everything I sprout and that is why I put sprouts near the kitchen sink. Place chick pea seeds in colander and place wet clean paper towel on top to help retain moisture. Put colander on counter with a small saucer underneath. Repeat this process for a couple of days and you will have sprouts.

          I bought a special colander for this purpose. It has hundreds of tiny little holes and is stainless steel. It is important for the air to get to the seeds. You don't want the bottom ones sitting in water, because they will go bad.

          I love them uncooked as a snack, as a sandwich spread. They have a nutty earthy flavor and a crispy crunchy texture. I will stir fry them with oriental vegetables, add them to soup, and make veggie patties for burgers, which I primarily feed to non vegetarians.

          They love it as a burger. Me? I think it is silly to try to make vegetarian food that looks and tastes like meat. But heh, they are my friends.

          Artificial Intelligence is the science of making machines do things that lead us to believe they are intelligent-Noel Sharkey

          by MarkMarvin on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 09:15:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for the suggestions. You are very (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        energetic compared to me!

        Help Republicans make themselves irrelevant.

        by lecsmith on Sat Oct 31, 2009 at 10:57:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Nice work - from a pro at this stuff (11+ / 0-)

    I'm a cardiac rehab nurse - I teach people about healthier living - and from my point of view, the above info is quite on target.  Congratulations on what you have accomplished and on finding such a healthy way to do it!
    A very good resource for an admittedly rigorous approach to diet is "The McDougall Plan".  It's written by an internist who became convinced that the secret to healthy eating is to eat high fiber, high complex carb, high variety, low meat, low fat.
    This is, incidentally and as you have discovered, a diet that results in eating a lot of bulk but not much calories and is great for a whole array of health problems.  That book has been out quite a while and likely easy to find used.
    I'd be happy to tackle a diary in the series if you want me to - Sunday PM?  Basic concepts of exercise?

  •  Hey, this came out early. (6+ / 0-)

      Great information contained in this diary.

      Please note that the recommended fiber is based upon the diet of the person and not the gender. The recommendation is 14 g/1000 calories consumed each day. Many people who have gained  weight and thus now eat more calories continue to think in term of 20-25 grams per day. But if you are eating 3000 per day and gaining weight, fiber obviously is not the first concern but it shouldn't follow too far behind.

      The discussion on fiber reminds us of how backwards our current health care system is. Some of highest selling drugs in today's market are for acid reflux, stomach acids, gas, bloating, constipation, and finally hemorroids. What does fiber do? It solves 90% of these problems. But our health care system is trained from med school on to treat the problem and not solve the problem.  I met a first year med student last month and he said he felt like he was in Congress because he was already having visits at the hospital from pharma reps who were peddling their wares. It is a crazy world.

  •  Just under the for what it is worth and all of (4+ / 0-)

    our information category.

    As a part of my morning email was a summary of a test on an extract from white beans and its impact on the glycemic index.

    Fiber reduces the glycemic index in foods but this study was on an enzyme contained in white beans that interferes with the uptake of glucose. The enzyme was extracted in liquid form and then dried to a powder.

    The plan is to sell this as a cooking additive to lower the glycemic index in other foods. The extract was added to a wonder bread type of white bread and found to significantly lower the glycemic index while not impacting the taste texture etc.

    I don't think this is on the market, just being studied.Link to Study

    •  Actually only the large dose had an impact (4+ / 0-)

      For the capsule formulation, the 1500 mg dose had no effect on the GI and the 2000
      mg and 3000 mg capsule doses caused insignificant reductions in GI. For the powder,
      the 1500 mg and 2000 mg doses caused insignificant reductions in the GI, and the
      3000 mg dose had a significant effect (-20.23 or 34.11%, p=0.023)

  •  Good morning Wheebles! (9+ / 0-)

    I am off to catch the carpool, but wanted to check in. I am down another pound. All this great advice is working.

    Hooray WHEE!

  •  There is such a thing (5+ / 0-)

    as too much fiber.  Anyone who eats a reasonable, healthy diet is probably eating a fiber rich diet.  Anyone who runs away from fruits and vegetables probably isn't.

    I tend not to worry about grams of fiber in my diet.  I do notice when the fruit bowl is empty.

    Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

    by Fabian on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 07:59:47 AM PDT

    •  I think there are very few people who meet this (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, Fabian, Clio2, MarkMarvin

      standard Fabian.

      Anyone who eats a reasonable, healthy diet is probably eating a fiber rich diet.

      •  If I still worked third shift (5+ / 0-)

        I doubt I would either.  My food choices were terrible if I didn't pack and I'd always set the alarm so I had time to eat - and then I'd smack the snooze button.

        I watch my diet to make sure I don't go on a fruit binge that ends up with me first sitting on the loo and then being hungry afterward.  Grapefruit season has begun and I can put away four or five in a day - and then belatedly remember why I should only eat two or three.  [grimace]  The same with greens - there's a limit to the servings I can eat and still, um, retain the benefits.

        Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

        by Fabian on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 08:21:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  "reasonable and healthy"? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, Fabian, cdkipp

      That's the point.  Many of us don't know what's reasonable and healthy.  As noted above, the average American eats half of the fiber of what s/he needs.

      And for me: I used to eat a lot of simple carbs and a lot of meat (typical meals for me: bagels and cream cheese, or ceral and milk in the morning; sandwhiches for lunch; dinner might be pasta, or chicken, or turkey, or burgers, potatoes . . . ) and not that much fruit and vegetables because they are harder to store long term.  ("Perishables" in my house tend to "perish" quite often).

      Fruits and vegetables?  I thought the main point of that were the A, C, and E vitamins, and I figured if I took vitamins I had it covered.

      As I look back, it's clear I must have way under-consumed fiber, and I had no idea how important it was as well as how much it would help me in my quest for a healthier body.

      •  The slimy lettuce in the frig.... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sychotic1, Oaktown Girl, cdkipp

        Making smoothies helps with eating fruits, although you have to watch you don't overdo the carbs.  Mango, papaya, bananas, peaches, persimmons and other pulpy fruits are easy to toss in a blender.  Anything loaded with seeds and/or skins don't work so well.

        Since apples are in season, you can get TART apples and cut them up and toss them in containers in frig.  Apples that aren't tart will oxidize rapidly.  Brown apples aren't everyone's favorite.

        Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

        by Fabian on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 10:44:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  does blending change the fiber? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Oaktown Girl, Fabian, MarkMarvin, cdkipp

          does blending to make smoothies make the fruit easier to digest, thus taking away some of the benefits of fiber?

          •  I don't think so. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Oaktown Girl, MarkMarvin

            Indigestible fiber is still indigestible fiber, even if it is in smaller pieces.  A juicer that discards pulp would be different.

            One thing that made me smirk was someone who talked all the nutrients in carrot juice giving him a surge of energy.  Uh-huh.  That "surge" was probably sugar - carrots have a fair amount, but it's delivered a lot more gradually when you eat the vegetable.  You'll get a bigger carb rush from a smoothie than you will from the unprocessed fruit, but you still have all the fiber.

            So if you are trying to keep your blood sugar level, whole fruit is best and smoothies (and juices) should be taken in moderation.

            Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

            by Fabian on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 03:53:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  help -- I still need clarification! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              "You'll get a bigger carb rush from a smoothie than you will from the unprocessed fruit, but you still have all the fiber."

              Right -- that's what I've heard.  The question I guess I have is: why?


              •  When you eat something (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                like a raw carrot, your body has to do a LOT of work to extract all the nutrients.  This takes time.  The structure of a fruit or vegetable breaks down slowly in the GI system and the nutrients and carbs are released gradually.

                Now when you puree something, you've done most of the physical work of breaking down the food AND you've released much of the nutrients into a liquid.  Now all of that more easily absorbed, and by easily I mean quickly.

                Since it is easiest and fastest to drink our food, people can also consume a lot more equivalent servings in liquid form.  

                Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

                by Fabian on Sat Oct 31, 2009 at 04:05:24 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  I manage to meet it quite easily (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fabian, MarkMarvin, cdkipp

      without munching masses of sprouts or anything.  Bowl of Swiss muesli in the morning, a couple of pieces of fruit during the day, whatever I bring for lunch probably includes beans, corn, brown rice or some combination, and include a vegetable or whole grain pasta in my dinner, and I'll make it to 26-28 grams easy.

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