Soluble Fiber: Why you need it

I found myself in a state this morning, that I don't like to admit to. Green envy. Not green with envy. No, envious of the ability to grow green things, namely in planter gardens; vegetables and herbs I speak about in these blogs.

I've been taking care of my folks home while they are vacationing, mainly tending to their two dogs, making sure that Netflix still works, nightly. I'd been told to water the house plants every two days and the out door plants 'frequently'. Day two came around and I filled up a small container and began to water the house plants. I'd thought I'd seen a couple, three in the house; I never took an exact count when visiting. I proceeded to the family room to begin and found five. I refilled my container and walked down the hall to the living room where there were several more, a couple of big ones. That required two fills of the container. At this point I started questioning who has this many plants? Then I climbed the stairs, and on the way, watered another one on the half flight. In their room they had another five and in their bathroom, where they have a large Jacuzzi there were at least eight more. At that point I put the small container down and lined the plants up under the shower. While they were soaking, it dawned on me that I didn't have a single house plant. In fact, the last plant in the house was the peppermint plant I purchased a month ago for $1.50 that I was intending to replant. How one kills a mint plant, I don't know. But I did. But their plethora of healthy plants was not what made me envious. Because really who has all those house plants?

Next, I went outside to water their potted vegetable garden. This year, I planted lavender, yellow squash and kale, and due to what I blame as an unusually hot summer, they all died or where eaten by a mass infestation of aphids (except the lavender). I was pretty sure all of my fellow gardeners were in the same boat. My parents and I would have a lot to bond over regarding this growing of things.

But no, my folk's pots contained healthy thriving yellow squash, tomatoes, lettuce, and herbs of all sorts. Their yellow squash were perfectly formed, oval-shaped suns, peak-a-booing in the leaves, dangling just above the soil. They were mocking me, and my dried brown skeleton of a vine I had at home in a pot (that used to be a yellow squash plant). What did they know that I didn't. Wasn't I the one who was passionate about all aspects of food and health? Wasn't I the guru of The Feed? My envy quickly passed, and my humbling quickly was replaced by fascination and excitement, particularly for the yellow squash.

I often will recommend the consumption of yellow squash for several conditions: 1. for people experiencing treatment related constipation 2. for people who are in cancer treatment that have IBS 3. for people who need to improve their gut microbiome but for who probiotic in supplement form might not be advised due to immune status and 4. for people who might have issues with cholesterol.

Yellow squash contains a moderate amount of vitamin C, beta carotene and lutein. These nutrients are helpful with decreasing scarring, and in eye health (vision can be affected by certain forms of chemotherapy). Mostly, I will suggest yellow squash for it soluble fiber content. Soluble fiber and insolube fiber are different from each other. Think of kale and Collard Greens when you think of insoluble fiber. It's tough and gritty and is very good for causing the colon to bulk. Soluble fiber bulks when mixed with fluid, so its helpful in moving stool, but more importantly soluble fiber helps to nourish the epithelial cells along the gut, as well as the good bacteria that interact with your immune system. We know that the gut immune system health affects the progression of many diseases, and plays a role in mood. Other foods also contain soluble fibers such as all squashes, melons, nectarines, peaches, oatmeal, okra, ground flaxseeds and others. Unlike insoluble fiber, soluble fiber is not likely to cause gas production or stimulate diarrhea in folks with conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

The gut epithelial cells take the most beating when it comes to cancer treatment particularly involving chemotherapy and radiation. This results in a number of side effects including constipation, diarrhea, poor nutrient assimilation, mood swings, etc. Consistently incorporating soluble fiber containing foods in your diet is a way to keep these cells regenerating, your bowels moving and your gut ecology healthy and balanced.

Yellow squash can be eaten raw in salads (make sure you are not immune compromised), steamed or even added to stir fries. It can be an addition to soups or skewered on the grill.

If you have any favorite recipes with yellow squash, send them in.