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  • Writer's pictureDr. Riffat Qadir

The Bulk in Our Lives

Vegetables at the farmers' market

Fiber consists of indigestible carbohydrate and is only found in plant foods. This means that there is NO fiber in fish, chicken, beef, pork, cheese, milk and eggs. Processing of foods removes fiber. The American diet provides about 10 grams of fiber daily. An intake of 30-40 grams per day is optimal! While we humans are not able to digest fiber, our beneficial gut organisms LOVE it and keeping them happy and healthy keeps us happy and healthy! We underestimate the benefits of fiber! Fiber doesn’t just prevent constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. It also prevents cancer, lowers cholesterol and risk of heart disease, improves blood sugar, supports weight loss, and is required for clearing toxic chemicals from our bodies (detoxification).

Quick Fiber Check

The Quick Fiber Check allow you to estimate the fiber content of virtually everything in the grocery store and calculate your own fiber intake. To check your meals, write down everything you eat or drink for one full day on a piece of paper. Next to each food, write down its fiber score, using the following guide.

Beans: For each 1⁄2 cup serving of beans or lentils or any food that includes about this amount of beans or lentils as an ingredient, mark 7. That is the number of grams of fiber in a serving. One cup of soy milk or 1⁄2 cup of tofu rates 3.

Vegetables: For each 1 cup serving of vegetables, mark 4. An exception is lettuce, for which one cup scores 2. A potato with skin scores 4; without the skin, it scores 2.

Fruit: For each medium piece of fruit (for example, an apple, orange, or banana, one cup of applesauce, or a banana smoothie), mark 3. For one cup of juice, mark 1.

Grains: For each piece of white bread, bagel, or equivalent, score 1. Whole-grain breads score 2. One cup of cooked pasta scores 2. One cup of rice scores 1 for white and 3 for brown. One cup of cooked oatmeal scores 4. Score 3 for typical ready-to-eat cereals, 1 for highly processed and colored cereals, and 8 for bran, or check the package information for grams of fiber.

Meat, poultry, or fish: Score 0. Animal products do not contain fiber.

Eggs or dairy products: Score 0.

Sodas, water: Score 0.

Interpreting Your Quick Fiber Check Score

Less than 20: You need more fiber in your diet. As it is, you appetite will be hard to control, and you may have occasional constipation. Boosting fiber will help tame your appetite and can cut your risk of many health problems.

20-39: You are doing better than most people in Western countries, but as you bring more fiber into your diet, you will find that it makes foods more satisfying and cuts your calorie intake a bit.

40 or more: Congratulations! You get a gold star! You have plenty of healthful fiber in your diet. It tames your appetite and helps keep you healthy. Fiber also reduces your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and digestive problems.


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