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Happy New Year one and all!

I hope your holidays were filled with joy, happiness, and good health.

We consider it a privilege to have provided care for you this past year and look forward to doing so again in 2021. We know you have a choice in selecting your care provider and we are honored that you have selected Alliance.

With the COVID-19 vaccine now becoming available, my hope is that the virus will slowly leave and allow us a more normal life than we have had throughout 2020.

Better Nutrition Daily

The National Institutes of Health provides excellent guidelines for healthy eating. This issue of the Alliance Handshake is a continuation from our October 2020 issue covering key points made in a special issue on healthy eating in NIH News in Health. In this issue we will focus on dietary fiber and choosing healthier foods and drinks in 2021. For more about healthy eating, go to:


Rough Up Your Diet

Fiber – you know it is good for you but if you are like most Americans, you don’t get enough in your diet. In fact, most of us get about half the recommended amount of fiber each day. Experts suggest that men should aim for about 38 grams of fiber a day, and women about 25 grams a day. Unfortunately, in the United States we take in an average of only 16 grams of fiber each day. Dietary fiber is found in the plants you eat, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fiber is sometimes called bulk or roughage, which can help with digestion. So it may seem odd that your body actually cannot digest fiber. Much of it passes through your digestive system practically unchanged. You might think that if it is not digestible then it is of no value. But there is no question that a higher intake of fiber from all food sources is beneficial.

Types of Fiber

Different types of fiber can affect your health in different ways. That is why the Nutrition Facts label on some foods may list two categories of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is found in oats, beans, peas, and most fruits. Insoluble fiber is found in wheat bran and some vegetables. Many foods contain both soluble and insoluble. Both types have health benefits.

Experts say that the type of fiber you eat is less important than making sure you get enough fiber overall. The focus should be on eating diets rich in whole grains, legumes, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds to get the daily fiber requirement.

Scientists have also looked into links between fiber and different types of cancer. For example, there is evidence that a high intake of dietary fiber may reduce the risk of colon cancer and colon polyps.

Wise Choices – Tips To Get More Fiber in Your Diet

Bulk up your breakfast. Choose a high-fiber cereal (5 or more grains per serving) or make a bowl of oatmeal and top it with nuts and fruit.

Switch to whole grains. Look for bread that lists whole-grain flour as the first ingredient. Experiment with barley; wild or brown rice; quinoa; whole wheat pasta; and bulgur.

Add a non-starchy vegetable.

Keep a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, spinach, or broccoli florets for a quick addition to any pasta sauce or rice dish.

Start dinners with a tossed green salad.

Don’t forget legumes.

Try peas, different kinds of beans

(pinto, kidney, lima, navy, and garbanzo),

and lentils.

Snack on fruit, nuts, and seeds.

Grab a piece of fruit such as an apple, pear, or banana.

Keep some almonds, sunflower seeds, and pistachios handy. Low-fat popcorn or sliced vegetables and hummus also make a great snack.

How to Choose Healthier Foods and Drinks

All foods and drinks can fit into a healthy diet. But when making choices for you or your family, try to choose ones that have lots of nutrients and aren’t too high in sugar, fats, and calories. Choices should include fruits; vegetables; whole-grain cereals, breads, and pastas; milk, yogurt, and other dairy products; fat-trimmed and lean meats; fish; beans; and water. Some foods and drinks should be consumed less often. These include white bread, rice, and pasta; granola; pretzels; and fruit juices. Others are best to have only once in a while - like French fries; doughnuts and other sweet

baked goods; hot dogs; fried fish and chicken; candy; and soda.

Healthier diets don’t have to cost more. With some planning, you can prepare meals that are tasty, affordable, and nutrient rich. Get the whole family to help slice, dice, and chop. You might be surprised how easy healthy cooking and snacking can be. Experts say that the type of fiber you eat is less important than making sure you get enough fiber overall. The focus should be on eating diets rich in whole grains, legumes, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds to get the daily fiber requirement.

Health Benefits

Some of the greatest benefits from dietary fiber are related to cardiovascular health – the system of heart and vessels that circulates blood through the body. Several large studies found that people who eat the most fiber had a lower risk for heart disease.

High fiber intake – particularly soluble fiber – seems to protect against several heart-related


There is evidence that high dietary fiber consumption lowers the concentration of

‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood and reduces the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

Fiber can help reduce constipation and normalize your bowel movements. Insoluble fiber is often used to treat or prevent constipation and diverticular disease, which affects the large intestine, or colon.

Fiber may also play a role in reducing the risk for type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, in which blood levels of sugar are too high. Fiber in the intestines can slow the absorption of

sugar, which helps prevent blood sugar from spiking. It is mostly the fiber from grains that protects against diabetes. However, while high fiber intake may offer some protection, the best way to reduce your risk of diabetes is to exercise and keep your weight in check.

Take time to build healthy eating decisions into every aspect of your family’s life.

Using the Nutrition Facts Label

When you are grocery shopping, the Nutrition Facts label is a great resource to help you compare foods and drinks. It can help you confirm whether products marked with healthy-sounding terms really are healthy. For example, low-fat foods aren’t necessarily healthy; they can be very high in sugar and calories.

Use the Nutrition Facts label to help guide you to limit the nutrients you want to cut back on, such as salt and added sugar. You can also use it to make sure you are getting plenty of nutrients you need, such as calcium and iron.

When reading the label, start at the top. Look at the serving size. Next, look at the calorie count. Then move on to the nutrients, where it lists the amount and recommended daily amounts. Remember that what you might eat or drink as one portion can be multiple servings. For example, if you eat one bag of chips but the label says there are three servings in a bag, you need to multiply all the numbers on the label by three to find out how many calories you just ate.

Foods provide our bodies with needed nourishment.

Teaching children to read labels while shopping as they get older is a good way to help them learn to shop for healthy foods.

1. Sweet Stuff…how Sugar Affects Your Health 2. The Skinny on Fat… the Good, the Bad, and the Unknown

3. The Salty Stuff…salt, Blood Pressure and your Health

4. Rough up Your Diet…Fit more Fiber into Your Day

5. Plan Your Plate…Healthier Food and Drink

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