The Fiber of your Being
Ancient humans ate an average of 3oo grams of fiber per day based on archeological findings. Wild foods, pre-agriculture, were very high in fiber. Look at apples. Originally they were the size of little cherries, so there was lot more skin of the apple in relation to the inside. And of course there was little or no processing, basically chewing and chewing on whatever you could find while wandering around. In the winter, humans ate bark and dried grass. Talk about fiber! Willow bark is the original source of aspirin, so they probably chewed that to get rid of the headache from all that chewing.
Fast forward 10,000 years to today. We’re not different anatomically, but our diet is radically different. People got tired of chewing so they invented machines to pulverize stuff and they learned how to grow things that had a lot less fiber and way more sugar. Modern apples are gargantuan compared to wild apples and instead of tasting sour, now they are very sweet. Today the FDA recommends….get ready for it……only 28 grams of fiber!! Ha ha ha! They have no hope that people will go back to chewing so they recommend a paltry 10% of the normal diet.
The problem with our extremely low fiber diet is that the bacteria in our gut lives on non-digestible fiber. Gut bacteria then cause a fermentation process that produces a compound called butyrate. Butyrate is a fatty acid that protects us against disease and is essential for brain health. FDA: “Meh, who needs a brain?” Low fiber diet and low butyrate levels have also been implicated in asthma patients. Who needs to breathe?
Interestingly, when you eat a meal high in fiber, it reduces the body’s ability to access sugar. Less sugar means less insulin production. Body fat cannot be stored without insulin, so less insulin is definitely the preference for anyone interested in being healthy. Simply put: more fiber = less body fat.
I have been working with a lot of patients in discovering the best way to increase fiber over the last 20 years or so. There are more and more options lately as the market catches up with the science. Obviously you want to begin with eating fibrous foods. Think back to the caveman chewing on bark and grass. I think one of the best examples is green beans. And chew them, pulverize them. Think of those poor, hungry microbes in your gut. They are tiny, so the more you chew the better. Believe it or not, I met the man who invented colonoscopy, Dr. Shinya. He told me to tell patients to spend time chewing. Okay, Dr. Shinya, I told them!!!
Other good foods are cruciforms, like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc. Don’t buy the florets. Throw out the florets and keep the stem. Just kidding! But do chop up that stem very fine and eat it. The broccoli stem is perfect fiber.
Lots of patients ask me about beans. They are not in the Atkins or Keto diets. But I think beans are just fine. They do have a lot of fiber, so like I said above, the fiber lowers the body’s ability to get the sugar in the beans.
And put butter on your vegetables. The name butyrate came from the word butter, because butter has a lot of butyrate. You can also take butyrate pills, but that would be cheating and you would miss out on the insulin lowering effect of fiber.
In addition to food, I do recommend fiber supplement. There just isn’t enough time in the day to chew 300 grams of fiber. Cavemen didn’t have Instagram to scroll through, they were so bored, so chewing was something to do.
I recommend a variety of fiber supplements, taking 2 doses per day of 2 different kinds. I like Bulletproof brand’s fiber called “Innerfuel”. It’s made from larch trees so there’s an easy way to get your bark. I also like very much Benefiber. Both of these mix very easily, have little to no sugar and no taste. There’s also the old standby and original fiber supplement Metamucil. This is a little harder to mix, it turns into a gel that’s kind of yucky. But I think a variety of different types of fiber is good. Imagine that the microbes are poultry in a farm yard. You’ve got ducks, geese, turkey, and chickens. So you give a mixture of different poultry feeds to make sure they all are eating right.
When you start with fiber supplements, cut the recommended dose by half to get your gut used to the new conditions. After a few weeks you can start using the recommended dose on the container. Also recommended when starting, drink a lot of water to dilute the fiber. That will help the fiber get down safe and sound to the waiting farm yard.
Good luck with my fiber advice!! More fiber, less sugar access, less insulin, less body fat, less pain, and yes, you’ve guessed my game= more walking!!
Walk and be healthy.