Whole Grains for Your Heart? Use the 5 to 1 Fiber Rule

Grain and cereal food selection in heart shaped porcelain bowls over lokta paper background. Green freekeh wheat in large dish with ears.

Ever since your doctor told you to start eating more fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes (beans, split peas, chick peas, and lentils), you switched to eating whole wheat bread. You congratulated yourself on trading in (reluctantly) your soft white “wonder” for a 21-grain brick, but your new kind of loaf may not be as healthy and whole as you might think.

Why You Need More Dietary Fiber

There is accumulating evidence that eating more dietary fiber reduces your risk for:

• Type 2 diabetes
• Cardiovascular disease
• Certain cancers
• Weight gain
• Obesity
• Diverticular disease
• Functional constipation

According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, as your fiber intake goes up, your risk of metabolic syndrome goes down resulting in less inflammation and a drop in obesity risk. It was concluded that greater dietary fiber intake is associated with a lower risk of both cardiovascular disease and coronary artery disease. (See ‘”Inflammation / Foods that Heal and Harm“)

It’s no surprise that another study concluded that for every additional 7 grams of fiber consumed, heart disease risk decreased by 9%. Seven grams of fiber really doesn’t equate to that much food. You can get 7 grams through a serving of whole grains plus beans or lentils (e.g., rice and beans), or a few servings of fruits and vegetables.

How Dietary Fiber Benefits Your Heart

The cardiovascular benefits of dietary fiber include:

  • Helps get rid of excess bile (reduces LDL “bad” cholesterol)
  • Reduces cholesterol production
  • Feeds our “good” bacteria
  • Changes our gut hormones
  • Promotes eating low-calorie-density foods
  • Increases satiety
  • Delays gastric emptying

These effects collectively help control your cholesterol, body weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure which all reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Also, per a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dietary fiber has been shown to reduce inflammation, specifically, C-reactive protein, a sensitive inflammatory marker that can predict chronic disease.

Eat More Whole Plant Foods

Consuming more dietary fiber means eating lots of whole plant foods, such as:

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes
Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

Soluble fiber acts like a “cholesterol sponge”. Sources include:

  • Oats
  • Nuts
  • Seeds (especially flaxseeds)
  • Legumes
  • Most fruits

Sources of insoluble fiber, a.k.a. “Nature’s Broom”, help prevent constipation and include:

  • Whole wheat
  • Wheat bran
  • Brown rice
  • Other whole grains
  • Most vegetables

When shopping for “packaged” grain products, such as bread, crackers and ready-to-eat cereals, the first word in the ingredients list should be “whole”. However, the remaining ingredients might look like a bunch of chemicals, so how do you choose?

The “Five to One Fiber Rule”   

A more reliable strategy to identify a healthy whole grain food product is to   Continue reading “Whole Grains for Your Heart? Use the 5 to 1 Fiber Rule”

Discomfort Food: Is Your Marriage Making You Fat?

 

Couple facing relationship difficulties

In a study of 43 couples, researchers at the University of Delaware and Ohio State University College of Medicine showed a connection between marital stress, hunger and food choices. The correlation was observed in healthy weight and overweight subjects, but was not seen in couples who were obese (having a BMI of 30 or higher).

They found that hostile marital arguments caused a surge in ghrelin, one of your hunger hormones. Known as the “appetite increaser”, ghrelin is primarily released in the stomach and signals your brain when it’s time to eat.

The couples agreed to participate for two days (each 9 1/2 hours long). They ate a meal together and tried to resolve one or more conflicts in their marriage. Hormones were tested at four different times of the day — once before a meal and three times after it (at two, four and seven hours after).    Continue reading “Discomfort Food: Is Your Marriage Making You Fat?”

10 Ways to Lose Weight Without Sweating

If you’re trying to lose weight, join 69% of American men and women over the age of 20 who are also overweight or obese. Don’t fret. Here are 10 things you can do that’ll shed some pounds AND don’t involve walking on a treadmill, riding a bike, or running around the block.

Of these 10 things, how many do you do now? DO YOU…

☐ Stop eating when distracted by the TV, computer, phone, or a magazine/book?eating at work_dollarphotoclub_51568892_600x469

 

☐ Eat on a smaller plate? Do you eat on a 9″ dish versus an 11-12″ hungry man dinner plate?

Use smaller utensils or chopsticks and take smaller bites of food?

☐ Always sit down to eat?   

Chew slowly and steadily? Do you chew until your food has lost all of its texture or is liquefied?

☐ Finish chewing and swallowing completely before taking another bite of food?     Continue reading “10 Ways to Lose Weight Without Sweating”

Fit Minute | How Much Sleep Do You Need?

puppy and kittens sleeping togetherIs there a magic number of hours you should sleep? According to studies on sleep and mortality, insufficient sleep can shorten your life. Sleeping plays an important role in:

  • Healing and repairing blood vessels
  • Maintaining a healthy balance of hormones that control your appetite
  • Controlling blood glucose (sugar)
  • Repairing cells and tissues, thus boosting bone/muscle mass
  • Defending against foreign or harmful substances

You can experience the following immediate and long-term health effects when you don’t get enough sleep:

  • Diminished cognitive function
  • Increased levels of cortisol (stress hormone) which cause the following:
    1. Increased appetite / See video: Undersleeping and Overeating
    2. Increased body weight
    3. Increased belly fat / See video: Beer Belly Anatomy 101
    4. Increased risk for type 2 diabetes
    5. Increased chronic low-level inflammation which leads to chronic disease (such as, coronary artery disease, dementia, and stroke)
    6. Increased blood pressure

If Seven is Good, Is Eight Better?   

Many people believe that they need at least eight hours of sleep a night for good health. But a study* reveals that sleeping seven (7) hours per night had the best survival rates. In fact, mortality hazard significantly increased when sleeping:

  • ≥8 hrs. (When sleeping >8.5 hrs., health risk exceeded 15%.)
  • ≤6 hrs. (When sleeping <4.5 hrs., health risk exceeded 15%.)

Causes of death associated with sleep duration include:

  1. Heart disease
  2. ‘Other causes’
  3. Cancer
  4. Stroke (Deaths from stroke were highest in men and women who slept 8, 9, and ≥10 hrs.)
  5. Breast cancer
  6. Colon cancer

Bottom line: Those who reported they slept 6.5 to 7.4 hours had a lower mortality rate than those with shorter or longer sleep.

*Six-year study by American Cancer Society; 1.1 million men/women ages 30-50 to >70 years. Published JAMA Psychiatry article: Mortality Associated With Sleep Duration and Insomnia, 2002.

Fit TV | Undersleeping and Overeating


VIDEO: If you’re running on too little sleep, here’s how it can affect your waistline. Karen Owoc, The Health Reporter, hosts this compact segment of men’s health and fitness news in The Men’s Health Minute.