Negative Implications: Rethink the Role of Dietary Fiber (Opinion)

Sunday, October 03, 2010 by: Andrew Kim
Tags: dietary fiber, health, health news

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(NaturalNews) Since the early 1970s, dietary fiber has been promoted to prevent and heal everything from constipation to cancer. In truth, fiber, especially when overdone, is irritating and leads to intestinal damage and dysbacteriosis (not to mention discomfort, pain, bloating, and gas)*. Contrary to popular opinion, the evidence indicates that fiber is anything but a requirement to prevent or cure intestinal ills.

Irish surgeon Denis Burkitt popularized the "fiber hypothesis." He proposed that fiber is required for good health and that an absence of fiber was to blame for chronic diseases. Despite holes in his hypothesis and the existence of a competing theory that better explained the evidence, Burkitt`s hypothesis was accepted very quickly at a time when the nutritional experts were increasingly promoting plant-based diets and vilifying animal foods. The public accepted the theory as well, since it was easier to add fiber into the diet than to eliminate sugar, refined grains, and beer.

Large trials and studies costing millions of dollars, have failed to prove the purported benefits of fiber. They showed that fiber neither protects against colon cancer nor prevents heart disease, breast cancer, and weight gain.

Nevertheless, the AHA and ADA continue to recommend getting 25-30 grams of fiber per day. Meeting this goal would require eating up to 600 grams of carbohydrates a day (since these foods contain 5-10% fiber).

More fiber means more carbohydrates, and therefore, less essential fats and proteins. Not only is this against human anatomy and physiology, but excess carbohydrates in the diet impairs glycemic control, raises insulin, blood pressure, and triglycerides - risk factors for metabolic syndrome. According to medical textbooks, fiber is food for ruminants, which have the extensive teeth and digestive systems to utilize plant fibers.

A study of isolated natives further contradicts the idea that fiber is required to protect against chronic diseases. The Native Americans of the Great Plains, the Inuit Eskimos, and the Maasai and Samburu tribes of Africa consumed fiber-less diets yet were free from digestive ills and modern diseases.

Constipation is one of the main concerns of consuming a low bulk diet. However, fiber can cause constipation through several means. Insoluble fiber produces hard-to-pass stools that can distend and damage the intestinal lining, form blockages of compacted food, and create anal fissures. Excess soluble fiber creates massive fermentation and prodigious amounts of gases, acids, and alcohol, killing off the flora that normally hydrate stools and prevent constipation. As the large intestine becomes increasingly less colonized with bacteria and damaged from large stools, the body becomes dependent on unnatural means to produce bowel movements (i.e. fiber supplements).

Adding to these effects, fiber contains gut-damaging secondary plant metabolites (lectins, saponins) that have been linked to systemic inflammation, cancer, and autoimmunity. Fiber also binds and inhibits absorption of minerals including calcium, iron, zinc, and copper. Inadequate mineral absorption imbalances body chemistry, driving osteoporosis, hypertension, arthritis, and dental caries.

The "fiber hypothesis" was created and accepted on faith and intuition rather than on an honest appraisal of the scientific and epidemiological evidence. Unfortunately, it continues to be kept alive by the corporations that sell fiber supplements and cereal grains, as well as the medical industry that cashes in on the diseases caused by them. Rather than listen to the "nutritional experts" who simply parrot the popular party-line and have vested interests in the way we think about food, we should heed the wisdom of our ancestors, who were free from chronic diseases and come to our own conclusions based on all the data.

**dysbacteriosis usually progresses to more serious intestinal disorders, such as diverticulitis, Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, colon cancer, hemorrhoids, and irritable bowel disease.

Note: Choose, raw, fermented foods, which are predigested and provide beneficial fermentation byproducts (butyric acid, biotin, vitamin K, vitamin B12) without the irritating and damaging effects of fiber.


1."Influence of saponins on gut permeability in vivo and active nutrient transport in vitro" (The Journal of Nutrition, 1986).
2.Fiber Menace (Monastyrsky)
3.The Textbook of Medical Physiology (Guyton)
4.Good Calories Bad Calories (Taubes)
5. (Vitamin Research Products)

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Andrew Kim

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