While neither soluble nor insoluble fiber are digested or absorbed, each type provides health benefits.
Types of Fiber
Soluble fiber: Soluble fibers include pectin, beta glucan, gums, and mucilages. They absorb water to form a gel-like substance, which slows digestion. Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol-containing bile acids preventing absorption. As a result it is linked to a reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol. It has also been found to slow the absorption of sugar in those with type 2 diabetes, which results in better blood glucose control.
Insoluble fiber: Insoluble fibers include cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. These fibers add bulk by retaining water. This speeds digestion and prevents constipation.
Sources: Wheat bran, brown rice, broccoli, cabbage, dark leafy greens, and raisins.
Most plant-based foods contain both soluble and insoluble fibers. Instead of tracking your intake of each type, health professionals recommend eating a variety of fiber-rich foods to get the soluble and insoluble fiber you need. Adults should aim to get 25 to 35 grams of dietary fiber each day.
Due to fiber’s role in digestion, a rapid increase in intake can result in bloating, cramping, and gas. When adding more fiber-rich foods to your eating plan, gradually add a few grams per week over several weeks until you reach the recommended amount. Increasing your water intake can also help ease the effects of increased fiber.
Fiber and Weight Loss
High-fiber foods have been associated with improved weight loss. These foods often have a texture that requires more chewing, which slows how quickly you finish a meal. Slower eating leads to mindful eating and a feeling of fullness. Many high-fiber foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are also low in calories. Additionally, high-fiber foods may keep you feeling full longer to prevent high-calorie snacking between meals.
Resistance training that targets the abdominal and lower back muscles builds a strong core to reduce lower back pain. Common exercises include lower back extensions, bridges, crunches, twists, and leg raises. Performing exercises on a stability ball or with pulley machines requires the use of stabilizing muscles for balance which also contributes to a strong core and healthy back.
Yoga for Flexibility
Yoga poses increase flexibility and strengthen core muscles. Research shows that regular yoga practice can reduce back pain in some people. Consider a gentle or restorative yoga class to get started. These classes have fewer poses and focus on improving flexibility and relaxation.
Correct Computer Workstation
A poorly designed workstation can cause incorrect posture that contributes to lower back pain. The U.S. Department of Labor offers advice on how to set-up your computer workstation.
Adjust your monitor so that the top is at or just below your eye level.
Sit so that your head and neck are in line with your torso and keep your shoulders relaxed.
Your elbows should be held close to your side, bent at 90 to 120 degrees, and supported by arm rests, if possible.
Adjust your seat height so that your wrists and hands are in line with your forearms when typing.
Choose a desk chair with lumbar support or roll up a towel and place it between your lower back and the back of the chair.
Keep your feet flat on the floor and consider using a foot riser so that your knees are at hip height.
Lifting heavy objects is a major cause of lower back pain, but using proper form can help reduce your risk of injury. Follow these tips for lifting with your knees and not with your back.
Stand close to the object with feet about hip distance apart.
Bend at the knees and the waist and grasp the object. You should be in a squatting position. Avoid bending only at the waist.
Avoid twisting or turning the body when you are carrying the load. Your feet should face the direction you plan to move with the object before you lift it.
Return the object using the same process. Bend your knees and lower to the ground. Try propping the object on your knee as you slowly slide it to the floor.
Always test the weight of an object before trying to lift it. If the object is too heavy, ask for help or use a dolly or cart.
Supportive Sleep Position
Your sleeping position can reduce the risk of lower back pain. The Mayo Clinic recommends using pillows to make sleep comfortable and safe for your back.
On your side - Pull your knees up to hip level and place a pillow between your knees. The pillow supports the top leg and prevents spine rotation.
On your back - Keep the natural curve of your spine by placing a pillow under the back of your knees and a small, rolled towel under your lower back.
On your stomach - Place the pillow under your hips and also rest your head on a pillow if it does not cause neck strain.
Check with your healthcare provider when you experience lower back pain. When choosing treatment and selecting the best steps to prevent future pain, it’s important to rule out serious causes such as slipped discs.
Stuffed peppers provide a one-dish meal that is loaded with plenty of protein and vegetables. Make this recipe as it is, or use it as a base and add your own twist. Create a vegetarian version by substituting black beans or mushrooms for beef. You can also swap brown rice or quinoa for the orzo. Add an international spin with Greek spices and feta cheese instead of mozzarella.
Serving Size 1 stuffed pepper
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5.6g
14%Saturated Fat 2.8g
Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrate 25.6g
Dietary Fiber 3.5g
The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Yield: 4 servings
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 25 minutes
¼ lb. lean ground beef
¼ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped black olives
1 can (14.5 oz.) no-salt-added, diced tomatoes
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1 cup cooked orzo pasta
¼ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
4 medium-sized bell peppers, any color
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add the ground beef and cook for 3 minutes, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. Add the onion and cook 2 minutes more. Add the black olives and tomatoes. Cook, stirring often, for about 3 more minutes, or until most of the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated and the beef is no longer pink.
Add the garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and red pepper. Stir in the orzo pasta and turn off the burner.
Prepare the peppers by determining if they are best standing straight up creating a cup, or if they are best on the side creating a boat. It’s okay to have a mixture of both. Place the peppers in the position you will stuff them and cut off the top quarter of the peppers. Remove the seeds, stems, and any large ribs inside the peppers.
Select a 2 to 3 inch deep baking dish that will fit all your peppers and keep them close together while baking. A small 7 x 10 inch casserole dish or a loaf pan works well. Spray the dish with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil. Arrange the peppers cut-side up in the dish.
Spoon about ½ cup of the beef mixture into each pepper. The amount you add may vary depending on the size and shape of each pepper. Pack the stuffing in and mound it slightly above the rim of the pepper. Top each stuffed pepper with 1 tablespoon of shredded cheese.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and browned, and the pepper begins to shrivel and become tender. Serve warm.
Give your abdominal muscles the attention they deserve. Follow these tips to get a strong core and flat abs.
Types of exercises
Ab exercises have evolved from those that target one area (crunches) to those that engage multiple muscle groups (plank). Despite which type is currently trendy, both will strengthen your abs. Research sponsored by the American Council on Exercise found that the bicycle maneuver, captain’s chair, and crunch on exercise ball are the top three most effective ab exercises. That being said, abdominals rarely work alone and training them with the muscles of the lower back and lower body helps to create a strong core. Incorporate more full body ab exercises, such as high knee lifts, planks with leg lifts, and burpees.
Frequency of workouts
You should train your abdominals no differently than you train other muscles. Do ab exercises 2-3 times per week allowing 1 to 2 rest days in between workouts. Fitness professionals recommend anywhere from 10 to 20 repetitions and 2 to 3 sets of each exercise. Switch up your routine and incorporate new exercises every 4 to 6 weeks to keep your muscles challenged.
Beyond strength training
Abdominal exercises are important for a strong core, but they are just one part of a bigger picture. Cardiovascular exercise, food and drinks, and posture also play a role in your fitness and appearance. Cardio exercise helps to burn the calories required to reduce fat around your stomach and expose muscle. High sodium foods and carbonated beverages can cause water retention and bloating making the stomach appear larger. Poor posture can also cause your stomach to bulge. Pull your shoulders back and contract your abs when you feel yourself beginning to slouch.
Weight loss plateaus are common, but they don’t have to stop you from reaching your fitness goals.
What Is a Plateau?
As you lose weight, your daily calorie requirement will decrease because it takes fewer calories for a smaller body to function. For example, let’s say you currently need 2,300 calories to maintain your weight. If you eat 1,800 calories per day you will lose weight. As you lose the weight, your body may eventually reach the point where 1,800 calories are all it needs to maintain your new, lower weight, causing your weight loss to stall (the plateau).
People sometimes confuse a true weight loss plateau with simply straying from their healthy plan. Tufts University nutrition professor, Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D., says that her work in weight loss research shows true plateaus occur after 6 months or more of being on a weight loss plan. If this is when you plateau, then it is likely due to the metabolic changes of reaching a lower weight.
If your weight loss stalls after only a few weeks of healthy eating and exercise, it’s possible that you were rapidly losing water at the beginning of your program. Now your body is trying to lose fat. Ask yourself some questions and make changes where necessary. Are you recording everything you eat? Have you lowered the intensity of your workouts? It’s important to be specific during this phase to account for any extra calories that may keep you from losing weight.
Plan for It
Plateaus are a reality of weight loss so make a plan for how you will address them. Create a list of motivational quotes to keep you inspired or think of new exercises to add variety. Plan to give up a leisure activity (such as watching television) so you can exercise more. Set an appointment at a wellness center, spa, or with a nutritionist to reduce stress, get tips, and renew your positive attitude.
Back to Basics
When you face a plateau, it’s time to get technical. Use your MyFoodDiary account to determine how many calories you need to maintain your new weight and for continued weight loss. Women should eat no fewer than 1,200 calories per day and men no fewer than 1,700 calories per day. You may need to adjust your habits in other ways than simply eating less:
Step up the intensity of your workouts. It’s time to move to the next class level, increase the weight you lift, or finally start adding hills to your walk or run.
Adjust your nutrient intake. Perhaps you have been on the lower end of the suggested range for protein intake, or on the higher end of the range for carbohydrate intake. Try eating more lean proteins and fewer refined grains. If you eat very little fat, consider adding more olive oil or nuts to your eating plan.
Get out the food scale and measuring cups. It’s easy for portion sizes to gradually increase when you eyeball a measurement.
Modify Your Goals
If you are close to your goal, you might decide that you feel healthy and energized at this new weight. It’s okay to go into maintenance now. This is why we have a healthy weight range. You might feel your best at the higher end of the range.
If you still have more weight to lose, be patient with yourself. For the next few weeks make it a goal to maintain your weight instead of losing. This will reduce stress and frustration as you adjust your plan. Once you find what changes help you break through the plateau, you can resume with weekly weight loss goals.