By Tony Polito, Boston.com Guest Columnist
Welcome back! If you missed the Olympics you have better been watching the kids, working out, or studying because you cannot be an American if you didn’t watch our Athletes. Didn’t they do a fantastic job? Can you imagine the training they endured? More important beyond the training, what about their diet? I mean did McDonald’s sponsor them years ago? Did the double quarter pounder get them across the finish line? Or did Lindsey Vonn and Apolo Ohno have parents and coaches that taught them to consume golden nuggets to secure victory with a Gold Metal?
Today we are shown nothing but fast foods everywhere and most of those foods are depleted of essential nutrients. If our athletes lived on fast food, they would die of starvation, even though they’d be as fat as a house. Most of these “junk” foods have 0% Fiber and yet the commercials make you think it’s considered the Athletes choice of food. Can you imagine?! Let’s look at a typical burger from a fast food chain: 48g of fat, 20g of which is saturated, and 1450mg of salt. The RDA is 2000mg salt per day, yah think that’s just a little too much just for lunch? That’s what you already know. Let’s take a peek at the Fiber, a whopping 2g. Lunch is pure fat and salt, and no fiber at all.
Do you know why we are finding less fiber in our foods? Looking at the example above we see more and more folks consuming less and less fiber. There are a number of reasons why and here are just a few: it takes too long to eat, it takes too long to cook, and keeping it fresh is a complete pain. The key word is “fresh” as you’ll see. If we pretend to be a huge food manufacturer, you can see why fresh and fiber don’t go well together. Once you remove fiber, you can now freeze a food item, ship it to every continent, and you can cook food much faster giving you fast food. So, the next time you enter any of these chains you’ll certainly find more fiber in the table than you do in your burger. The only choice you have for real food is the green leafy variety, aka salad, and chances are that will be the only fiber on the burger you ordered. Still, consider this a challenge. Go ahead and try and find something that’s edible that has more than 3g of fiber in your fast food joint of choice.
Many moons ago we consumed about 100g to 300g of fiber per day and today we consume less than 12g. So, it’s not “where’s the beef,” it’s where’s the fiber? Let’s break this out into a few questions to better clarify this issue: What foods have the most amount of fiber? How do I get fiber into my diet? What is the difference between insoluble and soluble fiber? Is dietary fiber the same as dietary fat? It’s so confusing to anyone that has workable intestines or not, so let’s do this one by one.
What foods have the most amount of fiber soluble and insoluble?Some of you may know this but it’s worth repeating.
Soluble fiber (dissolves in water) is found in dried beans, peas, oats and oat bran, flaxseed, psyllium husks (Yerba Prima is the best), brown rice, barley, quinoa, yams, mushrooms, avocados, apple (applesauce), rooted vegetables, squash, and oatmeal just to name a few. These help regulate blood sugar and slows things down a little so that insoluble fiber can pull it all together, if you know what I mean. It removes the excess, toxins, cholesterol, estrogen and old red blood cells out of the body.
Insoluble fiber (does not dissolves in water) is like a bulking agent (ruffage) to the colon. Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains, whole wheat, wheat bran, vegetables such as kale, swiss chard, carrots, celery, sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, legumes (beans lentils), and the skins of fruits and root vegetables. Insoluble fiber helps remove toxins from your colon and balance intestine acidity. It also helps move waste through your intestines and bowel. Essentially, it get’s things movin baby! We don’t want that stuff hanging around, talk about bad breathe, O boy!
We do need both types, but you want more soluble fiber overall. A quick snack list like this can get you on the right path: seeds (quinoa), whole grains, (Ezekiel bread and cereal) nuts, vegetables, fruits, and healthy snack, like dates or figs, seeds, sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Take a peek at the new raw candy bars. Just read the nutritional facts people, it will tell you everything you need to know.
Foods like that are not man made by people white lab coasts. These are made by the earth and were made exactly the way Mother Nature intended us to eat them. I promise you more than half of you health problems will simply disappear if you improve on your eating behaviors not to mention the attitude change that comes from eating healthily.
Dietary Fat is not the same as Dietary Fiber.
Everyone knows this once I bring it up. Dietary fat is equal to butter, lard, dairy products, fried foods, shortenings, salad dressing (not mine, that’s for sure!), mayonnaise, cheese, eggs, sauces, gravies, dead flesh (i.e. animal products), and margarine which is just one ingredient away from being plastic. These are all the most common sources of dietary fat. Try your best to eat less of these types food and when you do eat them, eat them in small quantities.
However, dietary fat has a very important role in your body. It’s huge in that it’s like a vehicle for carrying vitamins throughout your body, forming strong cell function and membranes. Dietary Fat helps with regulating body temperature, lends a hand in hormones function, and gives you energy. A few weeks ago I talked about hemp oil, so folks, what are you waiting for? Go get yourself some of that. Hemp has essential acids such as Linoleic Acid (LA) and Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA). These are the dietary fats your body needs for human functions, and your body will fall in love with you for feeding it real food. By consuming small amounts of monounsaturated fats like avocados, olive oil (try California Olive Oil, Ranch Olive Oil), nut oils, and seed oils (i.e. sunflower and safflower), nuts (almonds, hazel, and cashews are great in salads), frozen yogurt (try Stonyfield Farm), almond butter, and peanut butter. When was the last time you had almond butter on a celery stick? Those were the good old days when people were able to think of healthy snacks with out the help of High Fructose Corn Syrup. Do me a favor and remove this completely from your shopping carts and protect our/your children. While your at it delete or remove Splenda or any other processed/modified foods/sugars. Rid of these from your consumption and you’ll start felling better today and I hope someone is reading this that actually needs to!
The main rule of thumb is to avoid anything that’s “processed” I mean if it’s fake, why would you want it in the first place? There are alternatives to everything and you don’t need to be a chef to start taking care of yourself. You have to educate yourself and fail a few times to get this process right. I love failing, it proves I’m learning! Try to stick with oils and fats that are as close to their natural state as possible. Ask me, friends, family members, or anyone that your trust and admire what they’re eating. Every good person loves to help another! So before you even think and worry about getting more fiber why not start eating more fruits and vegetables, and you won’t have to worry as much. If you ever see an Olympic Athlete eating fast food, I’m sure it’s a cartoon.
Italian Vegetable Hazelnut Rice Soup
1 Quart Chicken Stock or Broth
2 Carrots, peeled and diced
2 Onions (chopped & diced)
2 Cloves of Garlic (diced)
1 Potato or Zucchini chopped and dice to bite size pieces
16 oz Canned White Beans (Kidney and Pinto beans are perfect)
1 ½ C. Cooked Brown Rice (Sure you could use white)
1 tsp Oregano or Italian seasonings
Salt & Pepper to taste
½ C. Chopped Hazelnuts (nice crunch)
On high heat, boil liquid in stock pot. Combine ingredients 2 – 4 and cook for 8 – 10 minutes of until vegetables are soft. Lower heat to med/high and combine 5 – 10 ingredients and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
To make it green ~ Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach and Collard Greens will do the trick. If you like ½ C. of Parmesan will please your company. Adding lemons will increase your alkalinity.
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