Today I would like to dive into choice #2 from my previous blog: 7 Choices of long life eating. If you didn't get a chance to read it you can find it HERE.
The second choice for long life eating is whole grains.
So why are they so good for you?
It is the dietary fiber – also called bulk or roughage – it is simply the parts of plant foods that your body can not absorb or digest. Whole-grain foods are filled with it. Eat more fiber, and you’ll fill up faster, making weight control a breeze. Once high-fiber eating was perfectly natural because we ate mostly unprocessed foods. Then the rise of the processed food industry stripped our diet of fiber. What happened next was even worse. Once the need for fiber was recognized, manufacturers introduce a new crop of high-fiber health foods that made for less-than-pleasant eating – “bran” cereals that made you feel as if you were chewing on pebbles, gritty whole-wheat pasta, and health bars with the texture of sawdust. So health-conscious people took to the alternative which wasn’t very appealing either: mixing gluey fiber supplements with water, then downing it as quickly as possible.
No wonder the concept of “high-fiber” foods creates apprehension in many people. But fear not. Today, food store shelves are crammed with dozens of high-fiber cereals and whole-wheat breads that taste absolutely great and have wonderful texture. Delicious whole-grain pastas, brown rice, and more exotic grains are as commonplace as elbow macaroni. Despite this bounty, however, most of us manage to get just 12 grams of fiber a day- far short of the 20 to 30 grams recommended by health experts.
Fiber becomes more important with each passing birthday, simply because with age, food moves more slowly through the digestive system. Partly, it’s a natural slowdown, but often, getting less physical activity and drinking less fluid plays a role, too. How fiber helps: It makes your stools bulkier, which stimulates your digestive tract to keep things moving. (Of course, it’s also important to drink plenty of water a you increase your fiber intake.)
Supplements work, but nothing beats the fiber in real food. It is always best to get the fiber you need from fruits, vegetables and especially whole grains. You can get fiber from a supplement, and it will help with constipation. But you’ll be missing out on all the other wonderful nutrients you get in whole grains – the vitamin E, good fats, protein, and antioxidants that help protect against heart disease and diabetes and even cancer. You lose all that when you have white bread and white rice and white pasta, then make up the difference with a pill or powder.
Switching to whole grains is one of the easiest eating upgrades you can make. After all, you probably already eat bread, rice, and noodles, so there’s no need to add or subtract anything from your diet. Just reach for a different type. But if you’re new to high-fiber eating, make your switch gradually – over the course of a month or so.
If you ratchet up your fiber all at once, you could have a lot of bloating, gas, even cramping. The first week switch to whole-wheat bread and aim for four daily servings of vegetables and fruit. The second week, have six produce servings and add brown rice. The third week, go to nine servings of fruit and vegetables and give whole-grain pasta a try. They are a great source of fiber.
So now that you have a plan, make sure to schedule it in! The best way to start a new habit is to be prepared and schedule it into your life. Sit down on Sunday night and plan your week's menus. Pick up everything you need ahead of time from the store so you are ready to go. The best news is you are probably eating these items already, you just may have to make a little choice change in the grocery store isles. Look for the choices that say "Made with Whole Grains" and you should be good to go!
Giving you the most current and up to date advice on living a longer and active life.
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