Thursday, January 3, 2013

Just Say No To "Fiber"

"Little known fact: The wrong type(s) and quantities of fiber may cause cancers and impairs and even prohibits the absorption of important nutrients and minerals. So much for the myth that vegetarians have "the benefit" of four to six bowel movements a day...

"We are all throughly familiar with the importance of sufficient fiber in the diet; in fact we hear and see it everywhere. Even specialty products, like "All-Bran" and other engineered-non foods as well as fiber supplements are marketed prominently, supposedly providing the all-important additional fiber in the diet. Even we, low-carbers, are familiar with subtracting fiber from the carbohydrate count of foods.

"Indeed the intake of specific types of fiber can have metabolic advantages, but very few know that it is important to keep in mind what type and quality of fiber is ingested and especially in what quantities. Not many people--and even fewer health care professionals, whom should know better--are aware that an excess of fiber can be very unhealthy."

"The original prevailing "fiber-is-a-panacea-theory" is based on observations of a certain Dr. Dennis Burkitt. He observed that relatively few rural black Africans suffer from cancer of the colon. He attributed this to their relatively crude diet.

"The theory was that, as fiber made food travel through the gut faster, it allowed less time for cancer-inducing agents to form. Remember that this argument is often cited for us low-carbers, as we are supposed (according to "common wisdom") to consume tons of meat daily, which digests slower than, for example, vegetables. This, of course, presupposes that food becomes carcinogenic in the gut and, "unfortunately", there was no evidence that it did. Neither was there any evidence that moving food through the intestine at a faster rate decreased the risk of colon cancer.

"Tests into the supposed benefits of dietary fiber soon showed that there could be other harmful side effects. All the nutrients in food are absorbed through the gut wall and this takes time. Fiber, by speeding food through the gut faster so that less nutrients are absorbed, inhibits the absorption of iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, energy, proteins, fats and vitamins A, D, E and K. This happens with all types of fiber although with a normal Western-style, nutrient-rich diet, the loss caused by vegetable fiber intake is unimportant.

"More importantly, however, phytate found in cereal fiber (or bran) also binds with calcium, iron and zinc making them indigestible, which in turn causes impaired- or even no absorption. One study, for example, showed that subjects absorbed more iron from white bread than from wholemeal bread even though their intakes of iron were fifty percent higher with the wholemeal bread! Bran has also been shown to cause faecal losses of calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, nitrogen, fats, fatty acids and sterols, thus depleting the body of these materials and creating deficiencies.

"January 1999 saw the publication of the largest trial into the effects on fiber on colon cancer ever conducted. After studying 88,757 women for sixteen years, doctors at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School say that "No significant association between fiber intake and the risk of colorectal adenoma was found." . . . "Our data do not support the existence of an important protective effect of dietary fiber against colorectal cancer or adenoma.""

Personal experience only - if you eat a bunch of neolithic stuff, you probably do need "fiber" to make the guts manageable.  Those who go the paleo template often report amelioration of many symptoms to include those that folks normally use "fiber"to treat.

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