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woman-looking-at-saladYou know all about the health benefits of fiber—but are you getting enough of this important nutrient on your plate each day? Probably not, according to a recent study from the University of Minnesota that reveals most U.S. adults and children are still not getting enough fiber in their daily diets. In fact, while you should be getting at least 35 grams of fiber daily for optimal health, the average American consumes only about 15 grams each day, say researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Here are 3 good reasons to gobble up more high-fiber foods:

  1. Your Heart. Consuming more high-fiber foods is important for a healthy heart. Studies have shown that an increase in dietary fiber promotes healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels—both of which support overall heart health. In addition, fiber supports healthy blood pressure by slowing down the conversion of carbohydrates during the digestive process to ensure insulin levels rise gradually and blood pressure stays within the normal range.
  2. Your Tummy. Studies show a healthy balance of soluble and insoluble fiber in the diet supports healthy digestive function and elimination. The combination provides needed bulk to the diet, helping to capture toxins and waste in the intestines and “sweep” them from body via healthy bowel movements. Fiber also helps tone the bowel muscles by creating resistance and promoting peristalsis (the wave-like contractions that move food through your intestines).
  3. Your Waistline. Did you know fiber plays an important role in helping you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight? Fiber-rich foods promote healthy blood sugar and help you feel full longer after eating, plus fiber stimulates a powerful anti-hunger hormone in the body called cholecystokinin (CCK) to help prevent overeating. Foods high in fiber also help to “flush” unused calories from the body blocking their absorption and eliminating them via the stool. According to experts, it’s possible to flush away up to 7 calories for every gram of fiber you eat!

Consuming more non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits is the best way to increase your daily fiber intake, but if you’re still having a hard time reaching 35 grams a day, add a high-quality fiber supplement with a balanced ratio of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Flaxseed, oat fiber and acacia fiber are great options.

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runner-shoesWe can’t all be those people with “26.2” stickers on the back of their cars, but as it turns out we may be able to enjoy similar benefits when it comes to heart health. Results of a new study conducted by researchers at Iowa State University reveal that even a short run (5 to 10 minutes) is good for the ol’ ticker.

Using information from more than 55,000 U.S. adults (only one-quarter of whom stated they were runners) researchers divided the study participants in five different groups based on factors such as how often they ran, how far, and their average speed. To their surprise, they saw similar benefits across the board in terms of reduced risk of death from heart disease—meaning the folks who ran fewer than 10 minutes a day had the same benefits as those who ran about 30–35 minutes daily (roughly five days a week).

Even after researchers took into account outside factors such as age, existing health conditions, and diet and lifestyle habits, the results of the study still showed shorter runs were just as beneficial as longer runs when it came to overall heart health, and that running may be a better exercise option for those with busy schedules because it produces a greater benefit in less time—more bang for your buck, so to speak.

“Because time is one of the strongest barriers to participate in physical activity, this study may motivate more people to start running and continue to run as an attainable health goal,” said study author Duck-chul Lee of the Iowa State Kinesiology Department.

Something to think about the next time you complain about not having time to work out!

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