FIBER: Because What Goes In, Must Come Out…
Dietary fiber in extremely important for your health and is as necessary as any vitamin or mineral you could consume. There are two major fibers to consider in your diet: Water insoluble (i.e. psyllium, bran, cellulose) and water soluble fibers (i.e. guar gum, found in oatmeal and pectin, found in certain fruits).
The water insoluble fibers act to draw water into the colon. They bulk up the stool and promote healthy bowel movements. Water insoluble fibers are most commonly long chain carbohydrates that are indigestible, like celery. Water insoluble fibers are very beneficial for elimination, because the movement of materials through the gut is dependent upon physical pressure within the gut itself, for example a bulky stool makes the colon contract and push the stool out. This is one reason why a diet rich in whole grains and whole vegetables is important.
The water soluble fibers are different. While they cannot be digested and absorbed, they are able to dissolve in water. This gives them the unique ability to capture toxins and pull them out of the colon, including bad cholesterol (LDL) and heavy metals. They will not bulk the stool but instead form a gel like substance that can slow down the digestive process and make you feel full for a longer period of time. This allows for a decrease in appetite and helps in weight loss. The main sources of water soluble fibers are guar gum and pectin. Guar gum is found in oatmeal and pectin from fruits, primarily apples, peaches, pears and plums as well as (to a lesser degree) in lentils, oranges, strawberries, flaxseeds, peas and beans.
Refined carbohydrates, like white flour and sugar do not contain the ‘husk’ (fiber) or ‘germ’ (nutrients) that the whole grains or veggies contain. The longer the fecal matter sits in the intestine, the longer the body can be exposed to carcinogens. You should have one bowel movement for every meal consumed.
A very simple rule for health is to make sure your diet is rich in vegetables and fruits, include oatmeal from a non gluten source (Bob’s Red Mill makes a gluten free oatmeal) to help remove toxins, and drink plenty of water between meals rather than with meals as liquids dilute the acids and enzymes necessary for optimal digestion.