Got Fiber?

Viktoria Slowikowska/

In my last post, I wrote about fiber and its many health benefits. I mentioned that it lowers cholesterol and triglycerides. I also stated that it reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and several types of cancer. As an added bonus, it makes you feel fuller sooner and without increasing your caloric intake.  

I stated how many different types of fiber are the food of choice for the 39 trillion bacteria living in our gut—our gut microbiome. Moreover, a thriving gut microbiome is responsible for many of the health benefits of fiber. When the bacteria in our gut are presented with different types of fiber, they produce small molecules called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Aside from providing several of the health miracles described earlier, SCFAs also provide 70% of the energy needed by the cells of our colon, which will keep them functioning well. 

To digress for a moment, have you ever heard of leaky gut syndrome? I certainly have. Over the years, I’ve had many patients who have told me they have this condition. But what exactly is a leaky gut? I mean, how does one’s gut leak? Well, it all comes down to the health of our colon cells. These cells are held closely together by molecules called tight junctions. If these junctions work normally, the colon cells will be held closely together. If these junctions are not operating as they should, the colon cells will separate, and there will now be spaces between cells. Substances within the gut, such as bacteria, bacterial toxins, and molecules from food, can now move through these openings and find themselves outside the gut. This, my friends, is a leaky gut.

You may wonder why it is such a problem if these things “leak” out of your gut. Well, the fact that 70% of your immune system lives just outside the gut is one big reason. When your immune system encounters these things, it can lead to allergies, excessive inflammation, and even autoimmunity. Furthermore, the muscles and nerves within the gut can be adversely affected, leading to distressing symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain. 

Once again, I’d like to point out that you can lower the risk of developing many diseases and also allow yourself the opportunity to feel fantastic through the simple act of eating whole, healthy foods.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope you enjoyed it and found it informative. If so, please feel free to share it. 

What’s All the Fuss About Fiber?

Ella Olsson/

What do foods such as broccoli, peppers, bananas, and apples have in common? Sure, they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which are essential to good health. The other indispensable component that they have is fiber. 

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about fiber. But, why is fiber so important for good health? What IS all the fuss about fiber? That is a terrific question, and I’m glad you asked.

Books can and have been written about the benefits of fiber. In this post and the next, I will distill down a few of the critical points. 

You’ve probably heard that fiber can help you poop regularly. That’s true, and that is an important benefit of fiber. However, there is so much more to fiber than just helping to keep us pooping regularly.

First, it’s important to understand that our bodies cannot digest fiber, and we get no calories directly from fiber. Having said that, one of the things that fiber does is that it increases satiety. That’s right; it makes us feel full without increasing our caloric intake. That is a great thing in and of itself. Fiber also increases insulin sensitivity, which decreases the risk of diabetes. It lowers cholesterol and triglycerides. It also reduces the risk of heart disease as well as several cancers, such as colon cancer.

Now, if we can’t digest fiber, how does it work its miracles within us? Another great question—you’re on a roll. Fiber is actually the food of choice for the 39 trillion bacteria that live in our guts, also called our gut microbiome. Further discussion on that in my next post. Fun fact: 39 trillion microbes are living in our guts. Do you know how many human cells your body is made up of? About 30 trillion—give or take a trillion. Think about that—your body is likely composed of more bacterial than human cells. Amazing, right?

Moreover, we have an important relationship with these gut bacteria, and they are vital for good health. Thus, it would behoove us to give our gut bacteria what they need to thrive. And as mentioned earlier, their food of choice is fiber—many different fiber types. 

Where do we get lots of different kinds of fiber? It comes from eating a variety of plant-based foods, especially whole plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, oatmeal, flaxseed, and whole wheat pasta. Fiber is only found in plant foods. Animal foods have zero fiber. 

One last thing: if you currently don’t eat many fiber-containing foods and want to start, that is fantastic. However, there is an important warning. Let’s say that your only source of fiber is something like a banana a day. If you go directly from that to eating five or six servings of fiber-containing foods the next day, you will likely feel pretty bad. You may experience abdominal pain, bloating, and feel gassy. The best way to increase your fiber intake is to do it slowly. If you’re starting low, then please go slow. 

Solely by the simple act of eating whole, healthy foods, we can help improve and maintain excellent health.

Next time: Fiber part II.

I hope you enjoyed this post and found it informative. If you did, please feel free to share it.

Failures are Good


Back in high school, I eagerly anticipated acquiring my driver’s license. I vividly remember the day of my road test. While backing up during my parallel park, the tires kept hitting the curb. I just couldn’t seem to get the angle right. When I signaled my intention to pull out so I could try again, the windshield wipers turned on. It felt like I was fumbling with the controls for an eternity, trying to figure out how to turn them off. All the while, my examiner stared at me—it was a bit humiliating. When I finally figured it out and pulled out, my examiner instructed me to return to the location where the test began. I was angry and upset. I wasn’t being given another chance at the parallel park. I knew I had failed. 

As I signaled to make my final left turn, the car suddenly jerked to a halt. Thankfully, my examiner had hit the brakes. It took me a moment to realize that I was about to turn into oncoming traffic. I had been so upset that I was not paying attention to the road. I left the test feeling disappointed in myself. However, reflecting back, I realized that this experience taught me two essential lessons. First, never make a left turn into oncoming traffic. Second, always pay close attention to the road because there can be serious consequences for not doing so.

Flash forward about a decade, and I was about to sit for my oral board exam in Emergency Medicine. I had done well on the written boards, but the oral boards were an entirely different animal. In this exam, a seasoned physician asks you questions about how you would care for multiple patients at once. It was intimidating. A few weeks later, my score report arrived in the mail. As I read the letter, I was disappointed. I had failed—not by much, but I had failed. 

I studied diligently and scheduled a retake of the test. I am happy to say that I passed the second time. Contemplating this experience, I realized that although I failed, I had gained a lot. While studying for my retake, I became much better at organizing my thoughts in order to be more efficient when caring for multiple patients simultaneously. I also learned a lot more about medicine that I know also allowed me to provide better care to my patients.

I hope these stories demonstrate that failures—as long as you learn something from them—are good. Of course, you are likely to be disappointed if you fail, which is normal. However, if you take something away from your failures and learn how to do something better, then failure is great. Failures are how we learn and improve. They can be thought of as stepping stones or springboards to success. In fact, I’ve heard that the most successful people in life are also the people that have experienced the greatest number of failures. 

If you experience a failure, learn something from it and move on. 

Please feel free to share this post with anyone who might find it helpful.

Don’t go on a Diet

Markus Spiske/

I know—that sounds like an unusual statement from someone passionate about healthy lifestyles.

But I’ll state it again: Don’t go on a diet.

I make this statement because, although well-intentioned, if you go on a diet, it implies that at some point in time, you are going to come off the diet. Thus, any health improvements that occurred while on the diet will likely be lost when you are off the diet.

What I propose instead of “going on a diet” is to state that you are going to change your lifestyle. You are going to change the way you eat. You are going to commit to eating healthier foods. This is a much more powerful way to state your intention. You are expressing your resolution to a lifelong change rather than a temporary fix. This will help ensure that you achieve your health goals and enjoy years of good health and vitality.

If you know of anyone who would benefit from this post, please feel free to share it. Thank you.

The Best Way to Achieve Big Goals

Engin Akyurt/

Having goals is fantastic. They give us something to pursue—a purpose. Moreover, having huge goals is outstanding. The bigger the objective, the better. However, sometimes being faced with such lofty dreams can be overwhelming. Suppose you have a grand intention and contemplate the enormous amount of time and effort that will be required for its achievement. In that case, you may very well experience discouragement from the beginning. So, although having gargantuan goals is admirable, it is often better to break your one colossal goal into many smaller and more manageable ones.

I love to run around my neighborhood. There is one hill not too far from my home that is relatively high and relatively steep. I love running up that hill. However, when I’m at the bottom of that hill and glance at the top, it seems so far away becomes more mentally challenging. The mental trick I find helpful is breaking that single large hill into several smaller hills. Allow me to explain. About halfway up the hill is a driveway on the left side. A short distance beyond that is a telephone pole on the right, and beyond that, there is another driveway on the left.  A bit past that is another telephone pole, and then it is about fifteen more feet to the top. 

When I begin running up that hill, my goal is not to get to the top. Instead, my goal is to get to the first driveway. Once I’m there, I feel a sense of accomplishment. The next thing I focus on is only getting to the first telephone pole. After that, my goal is the second driveway, then the telephone pole, and once there, I’m only about fifteen feet from the top. It is mentally much easier for me to run up the hill by breaking it up into several shorter distances.

Let’s illustrate this concept using a weight loss example. Let’s say you want to lose fifty pounds by eating healthy foods and increasing your level of physical activity. That is a terrific goal. However, losing fifty pounds can be intimidating. Thus, it would be much better to break this big goal into several smaller goals—perhaps losing three or four pounds each month. That’s it—only focus on losing three or four pounds over the next month. This is well within reach, and once accomplished, you will be rewarded with a great sense of satisfaction. Next, your only goal is to lose three or four pounds the following month. You will have lost weight, become healthier, and feel better each month. Then there will come the time when your scale will read fifty pounds less than it once did.

When you commit to achieving something significant, remember that gigantic goals are great, and the best way to accomplish them is by breaking them up into several smaller goals.

Please feel free to share this post with anyone you feel may find it helpful.

Make the Easy Difficult and the Difficult Easy


Building healthy habits is the best thing you can do if you’d like to start living a healthier lifestyle. However, I’ll admit that developing good habits can initially be challenging.

One thing you can do, especially in that difficult beginning stage, is to make the easy things difficult to do and make the difficult things easy to do.

Allow me to explain.

Let’s say that you are a person who currently loves snacking on unhealthy foods, but you’d like to change and instead begin eating healthier snacks such as fruits, vegetables, and some nuts. You love your cookies, candies, cakes, and chips. Whenever you get the munchies and are in the mood for a snack, all your favorite foods are right there in your kitchen. That’s easy, right?

So, you have to make the easy thing hard to do. This translates to ridding your home of all your favorite yet unhealthy snacks. Next, stock your kitchen pantry, refrigerator, and countertops with fruits, vegetables, and nuts—make the difficult thing easy to do.

The next time you are in the mood for a snack, all those healthy and tasty snacks will be easily accessible and right there for your enjoyment—easy, right? How about baby carrots and hummus? Or maybe a banana and grapes? 

Moreover, if you really want to snack on some junk food, you will have to leave your home and either walk or drive to the nearby store, which is going to be relatively difficult, and it will be less likely that you will do it. This will help you to start building healthy habits. 

This concept applies not only to health habits but to any behavior that you’d like to change. Let’s say that you are a shopaholic. You absolutely love going to the stores, buying all sorts of goodies, and paying for them with your favorite plastic card. However, let’s also declare that you want to change this habit and become more financially responsible. Well, in that case, make the easy thing difficult to do. I don’t remember where, but I remember reading somewhere the recommendation to put your favorite credit card in an empty coffee can, fill it with water, and place it in the freezer. The next time you have the urge to hit the stores, your credit card will be frozen in a block of ice. If you’d really like to go, you’ll have to wait for it to thaw. Hopefully, your impulse to shop will have passed by then.

Making the easy difficult and the difficult easy is a great way to help build new habits.

If you know of anyone who might benefit from reading this post, please feel free to share it with them.

The Swap Challenge: Week Four

Welcome to the end of the final week of the Swap Challenge!

I hope everyone was able to swap out at least one unhealthy meal for a healthy one each week over the past month. More importantly, I hope that you found it delicious and satisfying. 

This week I’d like to share a tuna recipe without the tuna. It uses chickpeas and vegan mayonnaise and is delicious.

You can find it here: Chuna Salad Sandwich.

When I made mine, I didn’t have the pickles, and it was still mouthwatering.

If you are just beginning your journey to a healthy lifestyle, I hope this was a great start for you.

Be well!

The Swap Challenge: Week Three

How are you doing for week three of The Swap Challenge?

I hope that you have swapped out at least one unhealthy meal for a healthy one this week and are feeling great about it. 

This week I made sweet potato-black bean enchiladas. This recipe was a bit more involved, but definitely worth it! 

You can find it here: sweet potato-black bean enchiladas.

One more week to go!

Take Advantage of Momentum and Become Unstoppable

Jesse Zheng/

Two of the most important things you can do to help maintain good health and help prevent the development of lifestyle-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, are eating healthy foods and exercising. If you are not accustomed to doing these things regularly, it may very well be difficult to get to this place. So, what can you do to move in the right direction?

The most important thing, the key factor, is the establishment of healthy routines and habits. If you can develop healthy routines and habits, everything else will become simple and fall right into place. Understandably, the initial set-up of healthy habits may be challenging. I would thus like to offer two ideas to help get you started on your journey.

First, I believe that for most people, trying to accomplish too much too quickly may be overwhelming and possibly become a setup for failure. As a result, it is better to start small, take baby steps, and gradually advance. 

The next ideas I want to share are concepts I learned back in my college physics class—inertia and momentum. Inertia is the propensity for a body to remain unchanged with regard to its motion. So, if a body is at rest, it will tend to stay at rest. Momentum can be thought of as the energy gained by a body in motion. 

How about a practical example demonstrating how these concepts can help a person develop healthy routines? Let’s say that you don’t run at all and would like to run for thirty minutes five times each week. Currently, you have a great deal of inertia—you don’t run at all and would tend to remain in this state. However, once you start to break free from your inertia, by perhaps going for a light run twice this week for five minutes each time, you will also begin to build a small amount of momentum. Next week you might commit to running three times for ten minutes each time. You’ve just broken free from more inertia and have developed more momentum. You then decide that you will run four times the following week for ten minutes each session, and then for the next two weeks, you will increase your time for those runs to fifteen minutes. Each week you will be unloading more inertia, developing greater momentum, and finding that the runs are becoming easier and more enjoyable. Over the ensuing weeks, you will hit your goal and feel fantastic. The momentum you have developed will make you unstoppable!

These all-important concepts of inertia and momentum are not only pertinent to running. They can be applied to almost anything else. Some other things that come to mind are eating healthy, studying a new language, practicing a sport, or learning a new skill, such as playing the piano. You can achieve so much in life by breaking free from inertia and taking advantage of momentum.

The Swap Challenge: Week Two

Welcome to week two of the Swap Challenge!

I hope everyone has been having a great week.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have swapped out an unhealthy meal for a healthy one.

I prepared pizza with creamed spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, and olives this week. The cream part of the creamed spinach was made from tofu!

I found the recipe on

It was delicious.

Be well, and have a fantastic week!