Dr. Hyman, a recent government study, and health practitioners everywhere extol the virtues of fiber. Learn how it benefits you and how to eat more of it.
WAS READING a review of a recent government research report about fiber that posits: Eat more fiber, live longer and have less chance of getting cancer. This made me reflect on my own relationship with fiber. Yes, perhaps strangely, I have one. Perhaps my longest lasting relationship.
I’m the kinda guy that when I learn a better way to do something, I invariably endeavor to try it, unless it’s too painful, too difficult, too costly, takes too long, pushes my buttons, or my mother suggested it. (Guess those last two are redundant.) During college days I learned a better way of eating, which included ingesting fiber-rich foods, and fiber and I became fast friends.
Of course, back in those days, most of America wasn’t overweight, perhaps a testimony (in part) to less available processed, manufactured, fast food then exists today. (Such food is usually devoid of fiber.) Consequently, people didn’t need to be as careful about ingesting fiber “back in the day”.
Fibers Has Many Benefits
Yes, eating foods rich in fiber will fill you up faster, usually enable more frequent, fast and rewarding (don’t ask me about that last one) bowl movement, reduce the incidence of cancer, etc., but that’s just the beginning of its marvels.
Plentiful fiber in your diet may also improve cholesterol levels, blood pressure, inflammation and blood sugar levels. If you need more convincing to increase your fiber intake, know that fiber may reduce the incidence of pneumonia and flu, the new study suggests.
Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Interestingly, fiber from grains was most strongly tied to the lowered risk presumption in the study. That makes me a bit unhappy.
The reason I’d rather the fiber in fruits/veggies/beans trounces the fiber in grains relative to benefits derived by us peoples is because most of us eat too much grain to begin with. Yes, it’s supposed to be righteous grains like whole wheat stuff, quinoa, barley and the like, but usually it winds up being processed oatmeal and almost-white bread.
Furthermore, the “Blue Zone” studies of common traits that make the longest living people on the planet the longest living people on the planet point to, among other important things, the fiber that mostly comes from fruits/veggies/beans as being most beneficial. Perhaps that’s because these people don’t eat so much grain, but plenty of f/v/b.
[Read about the “Blue Zone People” in Want 10 Extra Years – It’s Easier than You Think.]
The estimable Dr. Mark Hyman agrees that you ought to seek most of your fiber from f/v/b rather than grains. He says in this article about fiber:
“Most people think that bran is the best type of fiber to eat. But bran (wheat fiber) is mostly insoluble and doesn’t get digested. Think of it as more of a scouring pad for your intestines. That’s good for getting you regular, but it just can’t help your health the way that soluble fiber can.
You’ll find soluble fiber in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and most whole grains. The bacteria in your gut metabolizes the soluble fiber in these foods, and that’s when the benefits start.”
After making the case for f/v/b fiber, in part by observing African Bushman’s scatological evidence, Dr. Hyman suggests eight tips for increasing the fiber in your diet, which I’ll here name, but go to his article for details, and watch his video presentation below:
1. Eat two tablespoons of ground flax seeds a day.
2. Load up on legumes (beans).
3. Bulk up on vegetables.
4. Go with quinoa and brown rice.
5. Eat more fruit.
6. Go nuts with a few handfuls of almonds, walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts.
7. Start slowly till you get up to 50 grams a day.
8. Consider a good fiber supplement, such as WellBetX by Natural Factors (or check out the psyllium husk powder story below).
Because I know that change is hard to come by, I don’t want to finish this post without a suggestion for my readers who like to take baby steps. Changing your diet is one big leap for most of us, but adding one thing that you don’t have to fuss with much is doable.
The doable thing is adding fiber with psyllium husk powder supplementation. I recommend this with caveats:
- If you’re a regular fast food eater and are 20 pounds overweight and have sluggish bowl movements (like one a day and it ain’t swift and easy), don’t take psyllium husk powder, as it‘s likely to clog you up more.
- Start with just a teaspoon shaken in a jar with lemon juice and eight ounces of water, and when drained down the hatch, wait a few minutes and drink another glass of water. If thereafter your bowl movements move like an express train, try a tablespoon of psyllium.
Psyllium husk powder expands mightily in the stomach and you want to ensure that it gets passed. If you want an extra punch, add a tablespoon of the wonderfully toxin-absorbing bentonite, a type of natural clay. Both of these products can be purchased in most any health food store.
Let us all know how you do with this fiber info by adding your story in the Comments section below.
Published on February 15, 2011