It sounds like a true miracle drug. And calorie free! It was even recommended by Hippocrates. It is called 'fiber.'
What is fiber? It is that part of every plant-based food such as vegetables, fruits and grains we cannot digest. Thus, fiber does not have calories. Fiber can't be absorbed, it just passes through the digestive tract doing good works along the way.
What does fiber do for you? Older adults and a number of women have problems with constipation. Fiber adds bulk to the stool and, for some, that speeds transit time and relieves constipation. It doesn't help everyone and some will still have to use laxatives.
Fiber does help to decrease cholesterol. Soluble fiber acts like a mop and clears cholesterol from your arteries. Some studies have also shown a decrease in the number of heart attacks when you eat a high fiber diet.
It may be a secret weight loss trick. At Tufts University, they found that by adding 14 grams of fiber to your diet every day, you can lose an average of five pounds in four months.
The Journal of Hypertension reported that either fiber from food or supplements can help reduce high blood pressure. Research also shows that diets high in fiber help to control blood sugar levels.
How much fiber do you need? While the average American gets about 14 grams of fiber a day, men need 38 grams and women need about 25 grams.
We can get our fiber the natural way through foods or take manufactured fiber in pill or powder form. The best way to get your fiber is from a variety of sources-all part of your diet.
Fruits and vegetables supply between three and six grams. Beans and peas are rich in fiber and supply six to nine grams. A one half cup of bran cereal supplies 10 grams of fiber according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Whether in pill form or in powder form, supplements of fiber such as Benefiber or Metamucil can supply much of your daily needs. But your money would be better spent on those nine servings of fruit and vegetables you are supposed to eat daily.
According to the April issue of Environmental Nutrition, fiber rich foods may help "keep chronic diseases at bay."