The whole-grain marketing hype you go through is not a new concept. Today lot’s of products are launched as whole-grain food. Whole-grains are marketed as the best food, and surely they are – let’s unfold how and what type of whole-grain food.
Unprocessed food those weren’t stripped out of its nutrients has been eaten for a long time. But in the past few decades, food processing has become a trend. The fiber in whole-grain provide beneficial property, but those fibers are stripped out from grain during processing. Processed foods are made from whole grain, but that doesn’t mean processed food are equally healthy as a whole grain.
Processing of foods starts with a whole-grain – the seed or the kernel of a plant in its complete form.
A grain has three parts:
Endosperm – Contains starch and protein
Bran – Rich in fiber, minerals, and phytonutrient
Germ – Contains Vitamin B, Vitamin E, and other antioxidants and minerals.
The final products of whole grain are “white or refined grain” like white flours or white rice, stripped of their most nutritious parts – the bran and the germ. These refined grain or flour are used to prepare a major range of processed foods. As the fiber are removed from the grain, the products produced from those grains taste different, and even the shelf life of products increases. It’s a common example of food, that tastes great but doesn’t need to be healthy.
Does fiber really taste bad?
Fiber doesn’t have any taste, but that’s not the reason to avoid it. The processed food we eat is stripped out of fiber just to make food appealing to our taste bud and get us addicted to it.
The simple fact we love about processed foods is the way it digests and changes our mood. Our mood changes with drop and the rise of blood sugar level. When we don’t eat food for long, the blood sugar drops and it promotes to eat food to bring back blood sugar to a normal level.
When we eat processed food – it’s just left with the simple carb (sugar) and there is no need for digestion. Body readily absorbs simple sugar and boost energy resulting boost in serotonin – a happiness hormone that cuts cortisol (stress hormone), and it’s the reason we feel good after eating chocolate or cake.
Looking at the actual problem…
When we eat processed food, stripped out of fiber and other nutrients, we eat excess calorie due to lost hint of fullness. Fiber is also responsible for signalling fullness and slow digestion. The gradual release of sugar prevents quick blood sugar surge which cuts the need to store excess sugar as fat, not used for that moment.
Processed food has increased the burden on health as these food are damaging health. Lots of damage has been done and still, people aren’t aware of the damage they are doing to their body with the food they like the most.
Health crises start with sugar surge, later moving to type 2 diabetes, even heart disease due to lack of healthy nutrients, even other health problems follow. The health problem is not due to abundant food or overeating, but due to the lack of healthy nutrients. Suppose your meal is rich in fiber, you will eat less without trying.
Technological advancement has boosted the production and supply of food but failed to provide enough healthy food. The food intended to nourish and protect are responsible for health crises.
There are still some healthy processed foods as they aren’t heavily processed to remove nutrients, like oats. Oats are least processed and made available as rolled or cut oats. They are crushed but their nutrients aren’t removed, leaving those processed oats healthy as it was, in its unprocessed form.
How Much Fiber is Enough?
The American Heart Association Eating Plan suggests the total dietary fiber intake should be 25-30 grams from food, not supplements.
Despite the recommended intake,
Fiber intake among adults in the United States averages about 15 grams a day. The fiber intake among British adults averages about 12 grams a day.
The recommended fiber intake is about 25-30 grams but your goal should be 30-40 grams a day.
A large study in ten European countries, found people eating average 35g of fiber per day has slashed their risk of bowel cancer by 40 percent, compared to those who ate only 15g fiber daily.
Fiber rich diets are found best for weight control, lowering blood pressure, cut heart disease risk, and much more. Lots of studies had been done and proved fiber as a vital and health-boosting nutrient.
Fiber is a nutrient which isn’t digested like other nutrients but its importance can’t be weighed on a single reason – we can’t digest fiber. It maintains satiety, slow down digestion, and support healthy detoxification.
When we eat whole food like whole-grain, fruits, nuts, beans or vegetables; it is packed with carbs, protein, and other nutrients. All these nutrients nourish the body when they are broken down. Among those nutrients, fiber (fibrous carbs) is present in those foods. Without the presence of enough fiber, digestion of food speedups thus emptying of the stomach is quick. In presence of fiber, the digestion of food is slow, releasing calories slowly, and it delays emptying of the stomach. So you don’t feel hunger pangs as there is no blood sugar rollercoaster.
The current role may not look like a big deal but during a long period it is a single most crucial reason – people eating high fiber or whole-grain have a lower risk of diabetes, heart diseases, other health complications, and also have a healthy weight.
Fiber also plays an important role in detoxification by making stool bulkier, which stimulates the digestive system to keep things moving. With the smooth functioning of the digestive system, detoxification is perfect, thus helping to get rid of toxin easily. These toxins – byproducts produced during digestion, free radicals, and other waste; are flushed out of the body with healthy fiber intake, thus preventing potential damage those waste can cause when stayed longer in the body.
What About Fiber Supplements?
The benefits that fiber provides made it quite popular and due to increased demand many supplements were made available, for convenience. The benefit of fiber from supplements is yet not known, so it’s best to eat whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole-grain, beans, and nuts.
During research, single nutrients are focused, but the benefit associated with food is due to multiple nutrients working together. During the research, fiber in some food are highlighted as beneficial but other nutrients of that food worked with fiber to double the benefit. Multiple nutrients in food work together to improve health, so considering just one nutrient isn’t appropriate. A whole-food contains fiber with antioxidants and phytonutrient providing protection from many types of cancer.
French researchers analyzed diets and health of 6000 people and found that eating varieties of fiber food provide different benefits:
Whole grain – Best for weight control, lower blood pressure and reduce levels of heart-threatening homocysteine in the bloodstream
Fruits – Controlled belly fat and cut blood pressure (fiber in the tiny seeds)
Vegetables – Lowered blood pressure and homocysteine
Nuts – Best for weight control, and belly fat and controlling blood sugar
If you are eating a wide variety of whole-food major of time, you won’t have to worry about your fiber intake. Start to add more food varieties in your diet to meet your fiber need from multiple food sources rather than 1 or 2 food type.
Some Healthier Food Options To Increase Fiber Intake
- For a brown bread switch to whole-wheat bread,
- Switch to brown rice from normal rice,
- Try whole-wheat pasta over regular pasta,
- Switch bulgur wheat over macaroni,
- Switch to bran flakes or other bran cereal over cornflakes,
- Whole-grain cereals over crispy rice cereals,
- Old-fashioned or quick oatmeal over cereals,
- Popcorn over regular crackers.
- Add more serving of beans than you ate earlier, and add vegetables and fruits to your diet.
While increasing your fiber intake start slowly, don’t bulk your diet with lots of fiber all of a sudden. With a quick increase in fiber intake, you can get intestinal gas, bloating and even cramping pains.
Start to make a slow change in diet plan. Increase your water intake. Prefer to go slow by making weekly changes or whatever possible.
The first week: Switch to brown rice, add 2 serving of beans.
The second week: Change bread to whole-grain bread, increase 1 serving of beans, add a 1-2 serving of vegetable.
The third week: Add nine serving of vegetable and fruit.
If you feel bloated while adding up fiber-rich food, reduce fiber intake for a few days and add when you feel comfortable. Keep on making a small change till you eat whole-food in major of your diet.
What to Eat?
If you want to eat bread, then choose whole-grain over white bread or brown bread. You can read the difference in the label. On average, white bread has 1.5g, brown 3.5g, and whole-grain 5g – nearly three times as much as white bread.
Oats is another great choice for breakfast over any packed sugar -loaded cereal. They are loaded with health-boosting nutrients and provides soluble fiber. Soluble fiber traps cholesterol-rich bile acids in the intestine and eliminates them, thus lowering LDL cholesterol as there is less cholesterol to absorb into the bloodstream. A bowl of porridge (about 225g) a day cuts cholesterol an extra 2-3 percent.
You can choose whole-grain cereals on an alternate day.
When you are following a healthy diet, you don’t need to eat a single food type, eat varieties although whole-grain. Someday you can choose oats in breakfast, other days choose eggs with veggies added.
You can add fruit and nuts to your oats to improve its taste and nutritional value.
Make all your sandwiches on wholegrain bread.
Boiled brown rice taste great with beans curry.
Add whole-grain flour over white flour in preparing any dishes.