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Fit with fiber

Expert advice on the health benefits of fiber.


The Filipino diet is high in cholesterol, carbohydrates, salt and sugar, putting us at higher risk of developing hypertension, high blood sugar and high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which may lead to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other lifestyle-related diseases.

The gift of fiber

Fiber, or "roughage" as it is also known, is essentially a carbohydrate found solely in the walls of the plant's cells. It is the only part of the plant that cannot be digested by the human body—a property that makes it uniquely advantageous.

During a talk in HealthToday’s “Love the Healthy Life” held last July in SM Megamall, Christina Galvez, M.D., oncologist at St. Luke’s Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center and Veteran’s Memorial Medical Center, explained how we need a good variety of foods that provide 25 to 35 grams of dietary fiber to our diet daily to maintain good health. Fruits, vegetables, oatmeal and cereal are the usual sources of fiber, but for the Filipino on-the-go, fiber supplements like psyllium are a natural, convenient way to enjoy high fiber everyday.

Health benefits

According to Dr. Galvez, the benefits of fiber include:

• A healthy digestive system. By passing unabsorbed through the intestines, fiber such as psyllium helps regulate bowel movement, prevent constipation and even reduce the risk of hemorrhoids.

• Reduced risk of heart disease. Psyllium is a natural fat absorber that helps remove LDL, or the “bad” cholesterol, while sparing HDL, the “good” cholesterol. It binds with cholesterol secreted in bile acids and excretes it before it is absorbed in the blood stream.

• Improved blood sugar control. Fiber helps normalize blood glucose levels by slowing the rate at which food leaves the stomach and delaying the absorption of glucose.

• Better weight management. Fiber adds volume to your meals without adding calories. It helps stave off hunger to keep you feeling full longer.

Take in more fiber daily to keep you feeling young and at your best.

About the speaker/author:

Dr. Christina Galvez is a medical oncologist at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Global City, Taguig, Cardinal Santos Medical Center and Veterans Memorial Medical Center. Having just turned the big 4-0, she is happy and proud to be more active and healthy than ever–something she attributes to making psyllium an everyday habit.

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