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Fiber: Beyond the cereal bar

Fiber and Disease
In a recent nutrition consultation with an executive, he admitted that he frequently eats lunches and dinners provided by his company. After analyzing these meals, I found that not only was his diet too high in fat, but very low in fiber.

Typical restaurant and take out meals severely lack fiber. This is a significant problem because we have known for a while now the importance of a diet rich in fiber for the prevention of these diseases:
cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity

Fiber Basics
There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is found in apples, oats, seeds and beans. It seems to lower the amount of cholesterol that circulates in your blood, and why high fiber diets are associated with heart health. Insoluble fiber is found in plant leaves, roots, seed coverings and peels. This fiber acts as the “roughage” of your digestive tract making you feel full, absorbing water, and stimulating movement through your intestines.

The general daily fiber intake recommendation is 25-35 grams. There are many products on the market that claim to be high in fiber, but a closer look shows they might not be any healthier than the average candy bar.

The not-so-healthy Health Bar
When lunches and dinners are provided by your employer, it can be hard to get the recommended amount. Your first reaction may be to reach for a “high fiber” branded food. Unfortunately, many foods branded as “high in fiber,” are also high in sugar, sugar substitutes, saturated fats, processed starches. Not to mention the vitamin and mineral content is minimal. The very popular Fiber One bars contain 10 grams of sugar and 29 grams of carbohydrates. A quick scan of the ingredients list includes high maltose corn syrup, corn syrup, canola and palm oil, and chocolate chips! Exactly how these foods can improve your health is questionable and are certainly not recommended for a good physique.

Best Fiber Sources
Increase your fiber intake by keeping fiber rich fruits and vegetables in your office, along with seeds, like flaxseed and chia seed. These seeds can be sprinkled on salads or mixed in yogurt. When eating out, choose meals that contain legumes or beans ( 1 cup of navy beans has 19 grams of fiber!)

A healthy diet is a well-rounded diet. But busy executives need to create unique strategies to balance healthy living with the demands of work. At your Executive Physical, your physician and exercise physiologist will help you determine the best way to manage this.

By Kyla Bauer
Exercise Physiologist, PN1- Certified Nutrition Counselor