BOSTON – More than 90% of children and adults in the United States fall short of daily fiber recommendations, according to a presentation at American Academy of Physicians Assistants IMPACT 2014 meeting. Whole grains are an essential facet of a healthy lifestyle, and when combined with exercise, can lower a patient’s risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
“Data suggests that eliminating grains is way off target,” said presenter Glenn A. Gaesser, PhD, from Arizona State University. “The cereal fiber from grain foods may be the most effective source of dietary fiber for improving health and reducing risk of chronic disease,” added Gaesser.
Whole vs. Enriched Grains
Refined grains are stripped of more than 75% of dietary fiber during the enrichment process. Although some nutrients like riboflavin and folic acid are added back in, other ingredients like calcium and zinc never make it back in during enrichment process.
Healthcare providers should advise patients to pay attention to how much fiber is in a serving of bread. Whole grain bread contains 4-5 g of fiber per slice, whereas white bread may contain less than 1 g. It is recommended that women younger than age 50 years should consume at least 25 g of fiber per day. Men should consume 30 g of fiber per day.
Exercise and whole grains
Combined with a healthy diet, moderate exercise can decrease risk factors of cardiovascular disease. Patients don’t need to run marathons in order to achieve fitness, in fact, simply increasing mobility can make an impact on overall health. “Every little bit helps,” said Gaesser. Advising patients to walk extra steps, take the stairs, and get up from their chairs once an hour reduces the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.