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Believe it or not, most older adults want to improve their health. We get plenty of sleep, park our cars in a spot furthest away from the supermarket’s main entrance, we follow a regimented medication schedule, and watch what we eat — except when it comes to dietary fiber. Studies show that Americans eat less than 3 percent of the recommended amounts of dietary fiber each day. But in a culture where whole-grain bread, raw foods, and organic products are mainstream, why are Americans still short on dietary fiber?
Some experts blame our sweet tooth and other unhealthy cravings. “The problem is that many people eat a ton of highly processed foods, which have been stripped of most of their fiber,” says Kasandra Brabaw. Americans are more inclined to reach for a slice of white bread rather than whole-grain brands, and we choose to eat a fruit bar instead of eating a piece of whole fruit. These habits are taking a toll on our health.
Lifestyle changes can still have a dramatic effect on improved health, regardless of age. And, if you starting a new fitness routine, invite your friends and family to join you. “We’ve noticed our rehab and therapy patients progress faster when they have a supportive team cheering them on,” said Trent Gunnell, SLP., DOR at Parke View Rehabilitation & Care Center.
Fiber improves digestive functions, lowers cholesterol, maintains blood glucose levels, improves heart health, and helps control weight. Although thoughts of adding fiber involve grainy spoonfuls of something resembling bird seed, there are many flavorful options that achieve the same result. Here are four delicious, fiber-rich foods to increase your fiber intake.
Let’s face it. Bran cereals leave a lot to be desired in the flavor department. But, you can still obtain the health benefits by simply combining bran cereal with your favorite cold cereal like Cheerios, Corn Chex, or Rice Krispies. You still get the fiber, but you also enjoy the flavor.
Name your favorite soup and it likely includes a high-fiber food. Lentils, peas, corn, black beans, and broccoli are all great sources of dietary fiber. The Department of Agriculture says Americans need at least 14 grams of dietary fiber each day for every 1000 calories consumed.
It’s true that an apple a day may keep the doctor at bay. “Apples are the perfect snack food when you need a healthy pick-me-up while on the go,” said Jim Morrison, executive director for Redmond Care and Rehabilitation Center. Also reach for avocados, berries, bananas, and citrus fruits.
Made with chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice, hummus could very well be the perfect dip. Experts estimate that 25 percent of American homes stock it in their refrigerator.
If you are looking for an effective way to feel better, look better, and perform better in your daily fitness routine, adding fiber to your diet is an easy (and delicious) start to good health.
This article was previously published by the OC Register and republished here with permission.