Daily Dose of Fiber is Detoxification
I have a good mom, a conscientious mom and a healthy mom. She’s almost 80, but boy is she spry, with a spring in her step and the boundless energy of a woman half her age. And, if you asked her to tell you her secret to her good health and remarkable vim and vigor she’d smile at you and point you to the pantry where she keeps her box of Grape Nuts cereal and bottle of roughage, which is her quaint, if antiquated, term for what is one of the most poorly understood and under-appreciated of all essential health nutrients, fiber.
Fiber is defined as inactive carbohydrate, it’s not really a single substance and this complexity gives a clue to the confusion that surrounds this super important nutritional substance. It consists of sub-fractions, various components including cellulose, lignin and pectins and although it contains no calories and it’s not digestible, it passes through the digestive tract completely unscathed, getting enough of the stuff in your diet on a daily basis is a major key to good health.
One of the most important benefits of getting a daily dose of fiber is detoxification. In fact, inert as it may be, of all the important nutrients the human body needs, none has more purifying properties than fiber.
When looked at under a microscope fiber reveals itself to be composed of numerous, tiny net like molecular structures that act to trap poisons in a spider web-like fashion. Once toxins are trapped, the fiber plus the trapped poison is eliminated through the large intestine.
Fiber also helps support the excretion of toxic, sludgy bile. After it’s produced in the liver, bile passes through the digestive system where it picks up waste materials such as used hormones, old, dead cells, food toxins, bacteria and medications and then heads for a return trip to the liver. From there, bile recirculates around the digestive tract and picks up more toxins and wastes. Like the oil in your car’s engine, eventually bile can get goopy and thick with waste materials. Under ordinary circumstances some of this sticky biliary muck is supposed to be excreted through the large intestine thereby helping maintain the cleansing properties and fluidity of the remaining bile.
Fiber, as it passes through the digestive tract, large intestine and exits the body adheres to old bile and thereby assists in the excretion of the toxin fluid substance. The net result is cleaner biliary fluid and more effective detoxification. This cleansing, bile assisting property of fiber can be especially important for anyone dealing with hormonal issues, impaired liver functioning or general toxicity. If you’re one of the many millions of Americans without a gall bladder, making sure you’re getting a daily dose of fiber can be an important strategy for offsetting the digestive impairment associated with removal of this critical structure.
Finally fermentation, the breakdown of dietary fiber by gut bacteria produces important and helpful biochemicals. The cecum, the entrance to the large intestine contains vast colonies of probiotic bacteria that breakdown fiber material and produces something called short chain fatty acids (CSFAs). The SCFAs function as a source of fuel for the cells of the intestine providing yet another mechanism for fiber to promote digestive wellness.
There are two kinds of dietary fiber and they’re both important. Soluble fiber (SF) dissolves in water while the second kind of fiber, insoluble fiber (IF) does not. Most foods will contain both forms although usually one type will predominate. Soluble fiber is found in soft and squishy fruits and vegetables such apples, pears, peaches and pumpkin. Beans and legumes are especially good sources of SF. Insoluble fiber predominates in nuts and seeds and whole grains. A regular dose of non- GMO popcorn is a great way to get a dose of insoluble fiber.
According to a May, 2012 study that was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Diet, the Americans average fiber intake is around 15-20 grams a day. Yet according to The Institute of Medicine, children and adults need to be consuming nearly twice that much. Given this humble, yet essential nutrient’s importance for detoxification and bile cleansing and elimination, could it be that low fiber intake is behind the US of A’s well-documented degenerative health crisis?
The easiest way to get soluble fiber is to eat more veggies. Veggie soups are good too. If you’re juicing, the soluble fiber will come out in the liquid (because it’s soluble). Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, won’t and is typically lost in most juicers. Making a daily veggie juice in a Vitamix or similar high powered, which grind insoluble fiber up rather than extruding it like an ordinary juicer is an effective way to make sure you’re getting enough IF. I like grinding seeds in a coffee grinder and then putting the ground powder (which contains not only fiber but also protein, minerals vitamin and essential fats) in smoothies, yogurt and salads. You can also bake with insoluble fiber and although you may lose some of the vitamins and minerals and other nutrients, you won’t be losing the detox and digestive benefits.
Did you know: Starting off meals with 1 or 2 cups of streamed veggies or heaping teaspoonfuls of soluble fiber powder (I like Garden of Life) can put a dramatic dent in your appetite. You’ll find yourself feeling fuller faster, eating a lot less and losing weight easily.