The Benefits of Fiber

Healthy FoodsI know for most of my avid readers, fiber is something that you all are familiar with and know a little something about it. I want to inform those who don’t know what fiber is and how it can benefit those that consume it.

What is fiber?
Fiber is a complex carbohydrate that can’t be digested and is necessary for the health of your digestive system. Fiber can be found in all plants, including fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Current dietary guidelines recommend that adults consume between 26-35 grams of fiber daily. However, the average US fiber intake is only 4.5-11 grams a day.

What are the different types of fiber?
There are two principal types of fiber – soluble and insoluble:

Fiber / Fibra

Fiber / Fibra (Photo credit: . SantiMB .)

• Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber partially breaks down and dissolves in water to form a soft gel. Soluble fiber has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels by absorbing and excreting certain substances known to lead to high cholesterol. There is also some evidence that soluble fiber may lessen heart disease risks by reducing the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. Studies find that people on high-fiber diets have lower total cholesterol levels and may be less likely to form harmful blood clots than those who consume less soluble fiber.

Soluble fiber can be found in oats, legumes, brown rice, barley, fruits (especially apples), some green vegetables (such as broccoli) and potatoes.

• Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and is mainly responsible for adding bulk to stools, making it easier and faster to pass through your digestive system. Insoluble fiber is like a sponge, swelling up and absorbing many times its weight in water.

Insoluble fiber can be found in wheat bran and whole grains, as well as the skins of many fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts and dried beans.

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The Benefits of Fiber
Fiber is an essential component of a healthy diet. It keeps your digestive system healthy and functioning smoothly.

• Heart Health

Soluble fiber can help regulate blood sugar levels (by slowing the rate which sugar is absorbed by the body), and by lowering serum cholesterol, protecting against heart disease. As well, soluble fiber can possibly reduce excess blood fats and lower cholesterol.

• Weight Loss

Many people who are overweight have been shown to lose significant amounts of excess body fat simply by increasing the amount of dietary fiber, especially soluble fiber, in their daily diet.
Fibrous foods are often bulky and, therefore, filling. They also tend to be low in fat. Soluble fiber forms a gel that both slows down the time it takes to empty the stomach and the time for food to go through the digestive system. This extends the time a person feels full, while also delaying the absorption of sugars from the intestines – helping to maintain lower blood sugar levels and preventing a rapid rise in blood insulin levels, which has been linked with obesity and an increased risk of diabetes.

The extra chewing time often required of high fiber foods also helps contribute to feeling satisfied, and as a result, a person on a high fiber diet is likely to eat less food and so consume fewer calories.

• Cancer Protection

It has long been believed that increasing fiber intake will also help prevent certain cancers, such as colon cancer. There is a current debate going on in the scientific communities after a series of tests failed to show a concrete link between increased fiber consumption and a lower risk of developing cancer.

However, many argue that the antioxidants and flavanoids found in many high-fiber foods were key contributors to fiber’s cancer-preventing properties (the later studies were done using alternative fiber sources that lacked these cancer-fighting components). What is undisputable though is that a healthy, regular digestive system is necessary in the prevention of colon cancer, and getting enough fiber in your diet is essential for a healthy digestive system.

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Zinc Magnesium Benefits Beyond Strength

Zinc

Zinc (Photo credit: AJC1)

Zinc and magnesium combinations offer many more tangible health benefits than the marked increases in muscular strength and size so familiar to explosive strength athletes. From a heightened immune system to liver protection, zinc is a wonder mineral. Magnesium is essential to muscle and heart function, and is now regarded as playing a critical role in preventing a number of illnesses.

Bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts were quick to borrow the zinc and magnesium mineral mixtures to reach their own goals. The combination uses the aspartate forms of the 2 major ingredients and adds a little vitamin B-6 to increase their absorption. The supplement is available in a number of brand names.

Its initial popularity two years ago was due to a study that detailed the effects of the supplement on college football players in an 8-week training period. All athletes in the study were experienced lifters.

The results were spectacular. The athletes taking the mineral combination posted an average 11.6% increase in leg strength, compared to 4.6% in the placebo group. The group taking zinc and magnesium also had a 30% increase in free and total testosterone levels, compared to 10% decreases in the placebo group.

While these gains alone are enough to prompt many athletes to take the mix, other values of the two minerals for the general population — whether or not they train with weights are enormous.

Zinc
Zinc is essential to numerous chemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis and cellular energy. Its immune system values begin with zinc’s ability to regulate the production of T cells. Zinc also helps provides critical protection to the liver, assists in deterring enlargement of the prostate gland, and is essential in maintaining reproductive organ health.

Zinc’s most popular application has been zinc lozenges, which have been shown to reduce the length and severity of common cold symptoms by 45-50%. Lozenges without an acid base (like orange, lemon, or others with flavorings that have citric acid or vitamin C) are markedly more effective. Take your vitamin C four hours later or earlier than your zinc. The suggested Daily Value for zinc is 15 milligrams, and these mineral combinations usually contain twice that. If you take that amount continually you’ll need additional supplemental copper.

Magnesium
Magnesium is essential for normal heart function, transporting neurochemicals essential in muscle function and mood regulation, and in the critical balance of sodium and potassium within our cells. Despite its vital contributions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that 74% of people take in less than the recommended Daily Value of 400 milligrams (for men). The zinc and magnesium formulations usually contain 450 milligrams.

Remember to take zinc-magnesium formulations on an empty stomach just before going to bed. The test results were based on following those protocols.

C’mon…Get Pumped!

Whether you call it weightlifting, pumping iron, or bodybuilding – lifting weights both light and heavy has long been a great way to get in shape and stay in shape. Weightlifting or weight training has many health benefits for both men and women. There are weightlifting and weight-training routines appropriate for men, woman, even children of any age, any size, and any body type. If you want to build muscle mass, increase stamina, improve cardiac function, even stave off the symptoms of osteoporosis – you can accomplish all of that and so much more by adding a good weight training routine to your regular workout. 

To get the most health benefit out of lifting weights, you need to combine your weight training with other exercise. If you are not already doing some kind of aerobic or cardio workout everyday, you must do this in addition to weight lifting. It is not healthy to just begin to lift weights without a proper warm up. Of course before starting any workout routine, check with your doctor. Prior to starting your weight lifting workout you need to “get the blood moving” and your muscles primed for some heavy lifting. Just before hitting the weights, do a good ten minutes on a bicycle, take a short jog, or jump rope. Do a few legs and arm stretches as well. The key to successful weight training involves what are called repetitions. In lifting it is not so important how much you lift, but how many times you can lift the weight. A proper weight lifting routine will be designed to work out all of the major muscle groups of the body, which include: The Shoulders, Neck and Back, Biceps, Triceps, Quadriceps Chest, Abs, Hamstrings, Calves, and of course the Gluteus.

The next question on your mind is likely to be “should I use free weights or machines?” and “how much weight should I work out with?” You can use free weights or machines or maybe a little of both. If you are working out in a gym, of course they will have both and will likely be able to recommend a “circuit” of weight lifting exercises for you. If you intend to lift weights in the home, it all depends on your budget and physical space to determine of you want to buy a “Home Gym” type resistance trainer such as Bowflex – or a good set of free weights and barbells – or both. Weight machines are great for beginners because they have been designed to work a specific muscle or muscle group, and will insure that you are seated or standing in the right position to target that group when you lift. Free weights are the traditional barbells and dumbbells that have been around for centuries, and they work great. In fact some would argue that once you learn how to use them properly you get a better workout than machines because it is only the force of your muscles and your ability to balance the weight that keeps the weight and your muscles moving properly. There is no aid from the machine, so you are effectively using more muscle with free weights.

Lifting weights improves your strength and stamina. Lifting weights builds muscle and confidence, improves cardiovascular health and can actually help prevent other sports injuries. And lifting weights can help you lose extra pounds and keep them off – so what are you “weighting” for. Come on get pumping!

Good leg workouts at home with out weights

Want a good leg workout that will give you a good deep down burn while building and toning your entire thigh muscles including your gluts, that you can do at home without weights? Try the five minute body-weightsquat routine. Here’s how you do it. Stand with

your legs about shoulder width apart and start doing squats, we recommend doing full squats if you can, and stopping just short of locking out at the top, keeping constant tension on your thigh muscles. After you do some with your legs about shoulder width apart, try moving your legs a little wider apart. Changing the width of your legs thought the routine. You can alternate between a close stance, medium, and wide so that you hit all around your thighs. Another trick to keep your back straight is to cross your arms in-front of you, placing your right hand on your left shoulder and your left hand on your right shoulder, keeping your elbows straight out in-front of you, and keeping your head up. This is a great little leg workout and it’s not easy to do if you are not used to this. So if you need to take little breaks during the 5 minutes, you can until you get used to going the full 5 minutes without stopping. Once you can do the full five minutes without stopping, you can see how many squats you are doing and try to beat that number next time. After you’re done, you can do calf raises doing the same sort of thing. If you can, do these on a block or something where you can go all the way down, performing a full range of motion. That’s it, and there you have a short but effective leg workout in less then 10 minutes at home without weights.

chairsquats