Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fiber and Phytochemicals

Fiber is needed for healthy digestion. It is present mostly in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Fiber can be insoluble, like that found in bran, rye, wheat, and msot whole Grains. It can be soluble, like that found in beans, legumes, oats, peas and fruits and vegetables. Fiber reduces the amount of time that food stays in the digestive organs, so atheltes do not feel stuffed or slow. It enhances satiety and adds bulk to fecal matter.

Some research supports that it reduces the risk for heart disease and improves the glycemic response by reducing insulin spikes, and reduces cholesterol.

Phytochmeicals are non-nutrient chemical compounds that occur inplant foods. They include flavonoids, carotenoids and phenols and give food color, aroma and flavor. Research has shown them to be anti-oxidants, protecting against heart disease and cancer.

The American Heart Association recommends 25 grams to 30 grams of fiber daily from food sources. Too much fiber can bind to other nutrients ad inhibit their absorption, causing gastrointestinal distres and impressing workouts. There are no recommendations for phytochemical intake. A balanced diet should provide what is needed.

Some of this information was taken from Winning Sports Nutrition by Linda Houtkooper, PhD, RD, FACSM, Jaclyn Maurer Abbot, PhD, RD and Veronica Mullins, MS, RD, CSCS.

Disclaimer: None of the above information can be taken as a substitute for advice from a medical professional, such as a physician.

My third book, Pocket Guide to Fitness, is available on,, and If you look up my name on those Web sites, you will find my other books The Boy in a Wheelchair and Life, Work and Play: Poems and Short Stories.

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