Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fiber Isn't Just for Geriatrics

You've heard all the jokes about old people and prune juice. But I want to drive home the point that if you take care of yourself when you are younger, you have a good chance of protecting yourself from some of the degenerative problems that plague older people. Take care of your colon!

I repeat what the professionals are saying: get your colonoscopies and eat lots of fiber; you need a minimum of 25-30 grams daily, most people probably don't get half that amount. Drink lots of water. Get some exercise. These will help contribute to a happy colon! Believe me, when your colon ain't happy neither are you.

Check out this list showing the fiber content of common foods. Measure your diet against it, print it and carry it with you. It is surprising how challenging it is to get enough fiber from diet alone especially if you are of low metabolism like me and must eat many fewer calories than most normal people.

If you have bowel issues, be sure to check out Heather's Help for IBS website. Even if you don't have IBS, she has some great info on bowel health. It's really important to think about!

I was standing in the laxative aisle yesterday to pick up some fiber (aside: am I the only one to see the irony in selling laxatives in the incontinence aisle?) , and there were some young women standing there looking puzzled (and uncomfortable abou being in that aisle), poring over the laxatives. I wanted to shake them and tell them to get fiber instead! Laxatives are a short-term solution to an immediate problem, and shouldn't be used continuously. Fiber will keep you going (under most normal circumstances of course)!

Looking over the array of available fiber supplements can be daunting; I've found few that I like the look of. It is difficult to find supplements that aren't loaded with calories from sugar, or loaded with artificial sweeteners, colors and flavors. There are two types of fiber and we need both. Insoluble is found in whole grains; wheat and rice bran, flaxseed, vegetables. Insoluble fiber provides the laxative effect; it speeds things through your colon. Soluble fiber is found in fruits, oats, beans. There is soluble fiber in Fibersure or Heather's organic Acacia Tummy Fiber. Citrucel (methylcellulose) is also soluble. Metamucil contains both soluble and insoluble but some folks just don't like the texture; it doesn't bother me and I use it. Metamucil has the advantage of feeding your intestinal flora.

There are some chewables out there that look pretty good. FiberChoice sugar free looks nice, not sweetened with sugar nor with artificial sweeteners (though it does contain some coloring). It's a great one to tuck into your purse or pocket, easy to travel with if you don't want to cart powders halfway around the world with you.

OH! I almost forgot Unifiber, a new one on the market that does not have to be kept apart from your other medicines. That is a great feature! The only place I found it around here was Walgreen's.

Feel free to mix and match as long as your total daily dosage ends up being the one that's right for you. I use the clear-mixing powder in my morning smoothie, take the caplets with lunch, toss back a Metamucil chaser with dinner. I'll be carrying some chewables in my purse in case I'm eating out or traveling and away from my regular products. Not easy to mix that tall drink while sitting in an airplane. And as always, I will eat my fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains.

Not a subject we like to talk about over lunch, maybe that should change!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or medical professional, remember these are the observations of someone who is finding things that are helping ME. I cannot make personal recommendations for you, be sure to discuss these issues with your own doctor. I have not been paid to plug any particular products, just telling people what *I* like.


AlekonaB said...

Hi i hope you have been having a good summer!


Stacey said...

Thanks so much for voting for my son! That is so sweet of you and makes me wish that I did know you!