The ABC’s of Fiber for the Alzheimer’s Diet
Posted by Sherry C. on Thursday, February 9th, 2017
Fiber is a vital nutrient for disease prevention and overall health, it also carries a lot of weight when considering some of the best foods for the Alzheimer’s diet.
In today’s hectic world of rushing from place to place, it can be a real challenge to get enough fiber intake each day. You may be surprised to learn that the recommended daily intake of fiber is around 25 to 30 grams. The fiber should be from a variety of food sources (not from supplements). This recommendation comes from the American Heart Association. Most Americans get only about half that amount each day. So, what’s so great about fiber, and how can you ensure you are getting the right amount for a healthy Alzheimer’s diet?
What’s so Great About Fiber?
You may be wondering just what all the hype is all about when it comes to fiber intake. One might ask themselves, “isn’t the function of fiber simply to prevent constipation?” The answer to that question is an emphatic “NO.” Although fiber does help keep the GI system functioning normally, and a healthy gut is nothing to scoff at; however, there are more significant health benefits to getting enough fiber than simply promoting bowel regularity.
To start with, fiber lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. Consequently, it offers cardiovascular benefits. Enough so, that the American Heart Association is really big on getting plenty of this food based roughage each day. Fiber also helps keep you full longer, lending itself to promoting weight loss.
Recent research shows that fiber has many other amazing health benefits, from diabetes, colon cancer and obesity prevention, to improvement in gastrointestinal disorders such as re flux and diverticulitis (inflammation of the wall of the colon). Some studies even point to the ability of high fiber diets to lower toxins in the body and improve diseases involving inflammation (such as Alzheimer’s disease).
Getting Enough Daily Fiber
The problem with getting enough fiber each day is primarily related to time, or lack thereof it. Most Americans don’t have enough time to make home-cooked meals each day, and finding enough ready-made fiber rich food items can be a challenge. For example, most commercially prepared whole grain bread has between 2 to 4 grams of fiber per serving. You’d have to eat around 7-12 servings of bread to get enough fiber for the day. Who eats a half of a loaf of bread in a day?
The Nitty Gritty on Fiber Intake
Knowing all the benefits of getting plenty of dietary fiber is a real motivator for most people looking to improve their health. But if you or someone you love has Alzheimer’s, the stakes for adequate daily fiber intake may be even higher. So here are some suggestions for getting enough fiber into the daily Alzheimer’s diet:
- STEEL CUT OATS-fiber content is 5 grams per ½ cup. Tips: Cook enough steel cut oats for the entire week on your day off. After it’s cooked, eat some for breakfast, then store the rest of the pre-cooked, ready to eat oats in the fridge for the week. Add stevia, cinnamon, cardamom, raisins, nuts and/or (almonds contain 4 grams of fiber per serving. Add raspberries or blackberries and you’ve just increased the fiber content by an additional 4 to 8 grams (4 for raspberries, 8 for blackberries). Ground flax (2 grams of fiber per serving) is a great supplement that goes well with oatmeal. With all the delicious add-ins you’ve not only increased the flavor of your oats, you will have increased your morning fiber intake from around 3 grams (in the average packaged breakfast cereal or bread) to 19 grams (oats 5 grams, blackberries 8 grams, almonds 4 grams, flax 2 grams). When you get up each day, either heat up the oats in the microwave that you have already cooked, or better yet, eat them in place of cold cereal. Eat a serving in the morning and another one in the evening for a snack, and you will have chalked up over 30 grams of fiber for the day!
- QUINOA-a whole grain that has been deemed a super-food, not only is it full of antioxidants such as oleic acid (with omega 3 fatty acids), protein, and many other beneficial nutrients, quinoa has 5 grams of fiber per cup. Whole grain barley contains 6 grams per cup. By simply substituting quinoa or barley for white rice in any type of stir fry dish, you exponentially raise your fiber intake. TIPS: Make cooked quinoa for the week and simply add your favorite steamed vegetables, fresh garlic, onion, lean chicken, black olives, feta cheese, tomatoes, fresh herbs, or just about any flavor profile you can think of. There are many healthy recipes online for a variety of great tasting quinoa dishes including, Thai flavor, curried quinoa, Mediterranean style quinoa, and more. Eat quinoa, barley, or other whole grains for lunch and/or dinner each day to bring your running total of fiber from around 19 grams (1 bowl of steel cut oats with fruit and nuts) to a whopping 29 grams!
- Beans-although beans do have a high carbohydrate content, their phenomenal fiber level (at 19 grams per cup for navy beans) far outweighs any worries about carb overload. On the glycemic index, beans have a very low rating (the lower the better for the Alzheimer’s diet). Tips: experiment with a varity of flavors. Try white chicken chili, made with with navy beans, or a Tuscan bean dish with fennel and low fat Italian sausage (made from lean chicken or turkey). Make a crock pot of beans on the weekend and refrigerate for a quick and easy, nutritious meal anytime
- FRESH WHOLE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES:-one can’t really talk about fiber without mentioning fresh whole fruits and vegetables. Did you know that a half of a raw avocado has 9 grams of fiber! Pears have 6 grams of fiber and apples have 4 (with the peeling on). Unlike popcorn, wheat and rice bran, whole fruits and vegetables are considered soluble fiber. Soluble fiber has cholesterol and blood sugar lowering properties. Tips: eat raw fruits and vegetables for snacks any time during the day, steam fresh vegetables to add to quinoa or brown rice pasta dishes.
- BROWN RICE- forgo the white pasta in favor of brown rice pasta spaghetti, macaroni, rigatoni and more. The brown rice pasta variation provides 4 grams per 2 ounces. Although it doesn’t stack up to quinoa in overall level of nutrient value, brown rice pasta packs a pretty good punch, particularly when compared to white pasta.
Learn more about the Alzheimer’s diet by CLICKING HERE to view the book, Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment Diet, written by Harvard trained neurologist, Dr. Richard Isaacson.
For more easy to follow nutrition advice check out The Alzheimer’s Diet: A Step-by-Step Nutritional Approach to Memory Loss Prevention and Treatment, or visit theadplan.com to learn more about Neurologist, Dr. Richard Isaacson's 9 week diet plan and his cutting edge approach in the fight against AD in Alzheimer's Treatment | Alzheimer's Prevention: A Patient and Family Guide 2012 Edition. Also, sign up for the newsletter to get the latest updates in AD treatment and prevention news.