Fiber: How Overrated Is It?
If you’ve ever had the need to (ahem) get things moving, then chances are you’re a bit of a fiber fan. And if it’s a regular sort of need (no pun intended) then perhaps you even have shares in Metamucil or whichever fiber bar/powder is choice of the moment where you live. But do you ever stop and wonder how ideal it is to ‘need’ some sort of dietary kick-start each day? Or consider whether there could be a simpler and more complete solution to your stubborn digestive concerns?
Well, for once I’m going to agree with the mainstream. You’ve probably heard or read how crucial fiber is to a healthy diet, and the truth is that this concept has not been at all over-exaggerated. From a weight loss point of view, nutritionist Dr Jonny Bowden states that fiber may just be the most effective supplement out there. And – in one of those unlikely turns of fortune – it’s probably the cheapest weight loss supplement you can find, which is a nice bonus.
But Wait! There’s More!
From a health perspective adequate fiber intake is linked not just to weight loss, but to
- (duh) improved digestion and regularity
- Satiety and the reduction of food cravings
- Proper detoxification and therefore the potential prevention of all manner of illness and disease
So regardless of whether you feel you need some added fiber in your diet, I’d recommend it as a great health back-up for all of us.
But Here’s The Catch
Those fiber bars? The kinda yummy ones choc full of sugary ‘goodness’ like figs and prunes and dates (and even added sugar in many cases)? Not what I’m talking about. I’m not saying they don’t work. The definitely work. But the downside is that your insulin levels are skyrocketing and your hormonal system is going into fat-storage-overdrive. So I’m thinking that as a day-to-day solution they’re probably not ideal.
And whilst wholegrain foods do contain some dietary fiber, and some fiber-added cereals are actually quite good, offering as much as 10 grams per serve, I’d rather see you get your fiber from more nutrient-filled foods. Fresh green vegetables are the choice du jour in my book. My personal feeling is that we should all be eating fresh veggies at least twice, and up to four times per day. Wholegrain or not (and most wholegrain foods are actually only 51% wholegrain, as that’s all that’s required for the label), cereal-based foods are not for everyday consumption except for those rare few amongst us who tolerate carbohydrate well.
So let’s assume you’re eating your green veg a couple times each day, and perhaps even throwing in the odd piece of wholegrain, maybe even going so far as to down some all-bran when you can face the stuff. The sorry truth is that even if you were including all those things on a daily basis you’re probably only hitting 15-20 grams of fiber per day max. And that’s if you’re super-conscious of your health. According to one study I read last week the average American consumes less than 10 grams per day, and possibly as little as 5.
How much fiber should you be having? Well, if weight loss and detoxification is your goal (and given the vast amount of environmental toxicity we’re all exposed to then whose isn’t the latter at least) my recommendation is to aim for a minimum of 20 grams and up to 50 grams dietary fiber per day. Which means that unless you’re planning on chowing through 6-8 cups of veg each day then a quality (meaning sugar and synthetic-crap free) supplement could be worth investing in.
One thing you do need to know is that it’s important to rotate your fiber supplement. The reason for this is that using the same blend day in and day out can irritate the lining of the gut wall and leave you at greater risk of food intolerance. This happens due to the close contact fiber has with your intestinal lining, and it makes sense given that in nature we wouldn’t be exposed to the same fiber sources every day. I’d suggest rotating at least 3-4 different types of fiber on a 4-7 day basis. Personally I use and recommend the following 4 blends –
- Charles Poliquin’ Primal Fiber 1
- Charles Poliquin Primal Fiber 3
- Bioceuticals SatisFiber (available from any good health food store in Australia)
- Lifestream Pre/Probiotic Bowel Maintenance (available from any good health food store)
If you can’t access these last two then you can even use plain psyllium husks and ground flaxseeds (you’d need a coffee grinder to grind them, although some health food stores may be able to do it for you).
What Should You Expect To Notice From Increased Fiber?
First things first – the obvious. Increased fiber will almost certainly lead to increased elimination. In fact, many people are quite taken aback at just how much back-up they must have had. Sometimes it can take a couple weeks for things to slow down in that department. The good news is that although you may be spending more time than you’d like making hasty dashes to the john you’ll definitely notice the payoff in a flatter and less bloated belly. And if that’s not enough for you then the further benefits of long-term weight loss, daily detoxification (and therefore increased energy), greater satiety and reduced cravings and with a price that’s accessible to anyone I’d say that this is one piece of mainstream health advice you’d be crazy not to follow. Wouldn’t you?
Fiber overrated? Not one little bit.
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