Monday, October 20, 2008

GF Fiber

No wheat, rye, barley, or even oats? There are still plenty of ways to get the roughage you need on a gluten-free diet.

We've been told repeatedly that whole grains are good sources of fiber and that fiber has many health benefits: It keeps our bowels working regularly, prevents constipation, helps us feel full, reduces cholesterol levels, and helps control blood sugar levels.

But if you follow a gluten-free diet and cut wheat, rye, barley and even oats out of your diet, can you get enough of the fiber you need to keep yourself healthy? The answer is unequivocally yes - and you can do so in lots of tasty ways. Try these tips:

- Eat like a caveman. It may seem hard to believe, but you can get more than enough fiber eating vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. The problem is most Americans are not in the habit of eating many fruits and vegetables, so they don'[t get enough when they switch to a gluten-free diet. If you follow a gluten-free or grain-free diet the right way -by replacing grain products with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables- it's easy to get sufficient fiber. A 2002 analysis found that a grain0free, meat-containing Stone Age or Paleolithic sample diet can provide 42.5g of dietary fiber per day, considerably higher than the 15g found in the standard U.S. diet and the recommended daily fiber amount of 25-30g. So, load up on salads, raw vegetables - and eat fresh fruit instead of drinking fruit juice. Strive for a total of five to nine servings of vegetables and fruits each day. Especially good vegetable and fruit fiver sources are artichokes and artichoke hearts, broccoli, carrots, raspberries, blackberries, and pears and apples with their skins on.

- Go nuts. Nuts are rich in both fiber and flavor, so use them in lots of different ways. Snack on various kinds, use them in baking, and add them to salads and cooked vegetables. Also try coconut, another high-fiber source: Sprinkle dried shredded coconut on fresh fruit or gluten-free cereal, and use coconut flour to make muffins and quick breads.

- Try dried fruit. If you have a tendency toward constipation, include more dried fruit in your diet. Dried figs, dried plums (prunes), dates, and date-based fruit bars, such as LaraBar, are all good choices, supplying 3-5g of fiber per serving.

- Slowly add other high-fiber foods. Experiment with legumes (e.g., split peas, chickpeas, lentils, pinto beans, black beans, and red kidney beans) and gluten-free whole grains (e.g., brown rice, wild rice, quiona, buckwheat groats, amaranth, and teff). Other fiber-rich foods include butternut or acorn squash, sweet potatoes and yams, flaxseed and flaxseed crackers, and easy-to-fix Perky's Nutty Flax or Ruth's Chia Goodness cereal. As health enhancing as fiber is, it's important to gradually add fiber to your diet and to drink a lot of water. A rapid increase in fiber can cause stomach and intestinal distress, including gas, bloating, and diarrhea - condition that mimic common reactions to gluten.

- Dig into avocado. An easy, fun way to get extra fiber is to add sliced avocado or a scoop of avocado-based guacamole to a salad or entree. It may surprise you, but avocados have the highest fiber content of any fruit.

Reprinted from The Going Against the Grain Group, 2008

written by: Melissa Diane Smith
Melissa Diane Smith has great information and insight into the world of nutrition and you can learn more about the author and her work at her websites:
Better Nutrition

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