Food and diet: using fiber as a weight loss tool
Lose weight simply and easily by increasing your daily intake of dietary fiber.

If you're trying to lose weight in a medically sound and healthy way, I'm sure you know that you should be eating more fruits and vegetables. But if you're as busy as many working adults, you may be finding this hard to do, or resorting to a fruit or vegetable juice drink to get your servings. While this option does provide vitamins and minerals, there's an important part of the fruit or vegetable that you're missing, and that is the fiber.

Well, so what? Fiber, after all, lacks nutritional value, being the part of the plant that the intestine can't digest and simply passes through as waste. So why eat it in the first place?

But the fact is that fiber, what an earlier generation called 'roughage', does bring important benefits to a diet, and especially if you're trying to lose weight. The bulk of fiber causes you to consume your food more slowly and gives a sense of fullness and satisfaction to the meal. And as it makes its way through your digestive system, you don't get hungry again so quickly.

You can increase your intake of dietary fiber by incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet, along with whole grain products. If you are currently eating very little fiber (as most Americans do), make the change gradually. Too sudden a change could cause gas and constipation, which would have a negative impact on your motivation to stick to your diet!

There are two varieties of dietary fiber. Water soluble fiber comes from fruits, nuts and beans, and water insoluble fiber comes from vegetables and whole grains. Both are important to a healthy diet and weight loss. Soluble fiber slows down the emptying of the stomach, making you feel satisfied longer after a meal. It also helps lower cholesterol. Insoluble fiber clears out the digestive track and helps promote regularity.

Most Americans consume only 10 to 15 grams of fiber a day, while the recommended amount is 25 grams. In addition to weight loss benefits, eating enough dietary fiber has important health benefits, and has been shown to reduce the risk of many forms of cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and diverticulitis,

Gradually increasing the fiber in your diet, in the form of fresh vegetables, fruits, beans and nuts, and whole grain products, should allow you to lose weight naturally without the rigid food lists and account keeping that makes weight loss a frustrating chore. Some changes are easy to make; wholemeal brown bread has 2 times the fiber of white bread, while brown rice has almost twice the fiber of white rice. Make those simple changes to your grocery list, and increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables, and you are well on your way to a thinner, healthier you.

Take as your role model Thomas Jefferson, who famously considered meat merely a condiment to his high-vegetable diet. Jefferson lived well into his eighties, in an era where that was quite an advanced age. And in his long and healthy life, despite his fondness for French cuisine, he was never