Cure Constipation and Stay Regular Without Laxatives
Health Alert #116
The human diet has been chalked full of fiber throughout our entire history. Only recently, with the advent of modern foods has fiber been removed from our food.
And that’s a problem. You need fiber for optimal health. We can prevent cancer, diabetes, and high cholesterol with a bit of fiber each day. Today, I’ll show you how adding some fiber to your diet prevents disease.
But not all fibers are equal. Some types of fiber are natural to our diet and some are more modern creations. I’ll also show you the right way to add fiber to your diet (without chalky drinks or bland cereals).
* The Stuff of Roughage *
Fiber is a thread-like structure in fruits, vegetables, seeds, and grain. And it is another one of those hot health topics where “experts” seem to contradict each other. One thing is for sure: fiber is part of a natural diet. We also have sound evidence that we suffer in several ways if we don’t consume adequate fiber including:
Irregularity: As we get older, our digestive system often needs a little help. Eating high-fiber foods and drinking water can ease stool passing through the entire digestive system.
Unhealthy Cholesterols: Researchers have found that fiber actually works in the body to reduce the absorption of cholesterol. In one recent study, participants ate a moderate-fiber diet, a high-fiber diet, or a low-fiber diet for 6 weeks. The higher the amount fiber participants ate, the more their cholesterol levels dropped.1
Colon Cancer: Intestinal contents can be some nasty stuff. Potential carcinogens lurk in stool. The more completely they move out of the digestive tract, the better. Fiber serves to drag these toxins out with it and carcinogenic material has less chance of attacking the digestive tract.
The journal Lancet published a new, very large study that links high-fiber diet with a lower risk of colon cancer. Researchers used data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. They followed-up on almost 200,000 participants. They found that if people with a very low fiber intake doubled their intake, they reduced their risk of colorectal cancer by 40%. 2
Diabetes: Fiber lowers dangerous glucose levels. Fiber slows the absorption of glucose. This action can prevent diabetes. A high-fiber diet effectively improves glucose control.3
* Doing Fiber Right *
You don’t have to eat a bowl of cereal every morning to put some fiber in your diet. Actually, that bowl of cereal could be adding to your health problems. The high glycemic index of most cereals, breads, and pastas makes them poor food choices. Additionally, since we have only had grain products available for a few thousand years, they were not our prehistoric source of fiber.
You also have no need to take fiber supplements made from grains. Nature has provided us with all of the natural fiber we need each day. Here are some of the best sources of natural fiber:
Nuts: Talk about roughage. Nuts provide us with some of the most effective fiber. Besides the nut itself, many nuts have a thin skin that is also a great source of fiber. A handful of nuts everyday makes for an easy fiber-filled snack. Don’t let the low-fat police scare you away from nuts. They have the heart and brain healthy fats you need.
Fruit: When you eat fruit, leave the skins on. The skin is a major source of fiber. My favorite fiber-rich fruits are berries. Berries not only have fiber-rich skin; they also contain tiny edible seeds. For there sweetness, they have surprisingly low glycemic indexes. Eat a couple of servings of fruit or berries daily.
Vegetables: These foods should be your principle source of fiber, not grains. Eat the skins and edible seeds to maximize fiber. If you have problems with regularity, load up on fibrous vegetables like broccoli, spinach, collard greens, squash, eggplant, cabbage, asparagus, cucumbers and Brussels’s sprouts. Eat them along with high-quality protein at every meal.
By the way, I do not consider corn a vegetable. Corn is a selectively bred enlarged grain. Like other grains, it will cause a rapid increase in your blood sugar.
Seeds: My favorites in this category are pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. The seed pulp has fiber throughout. And the edible seed casing is an exceptional resource of bulking fiber. Seeds make great snacks. Have some every week.
Legumes: Beans are a great source of fiber. The various types of green beans are superior to dried beans. You can use beans to supplement your dietary fiber as needed.
In order to get the most benefit from your dietary fiber, you must drink plenty of liquids. Water is the best liquid. Without proper hydration, fiber can’t work its magic. Also, it’s best to spread your fiber intake out throughout the day. Eating all of your fiber at once can decrease its benefits.
Al Sears MD
1 Chandalia M. et al., Beneficial effects of high dietary fiber intake in patients
2 Bingham S, et al., Dietary fibre in food and protection against colorectal
3 Chandalia M. et al., Beneficial effects of high dietary fiber intake in patients
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