This weekend I attended a fantastic conference, and got to hear Konstantin Monastyrsky speak on his specialty: gut health. What I heard was perhaps the best explanation I’ve heard yet of fiber and how it can hurt or help our digestion.
Fiber attracts water and turns into a glue-like substance in your digestive system. It also absorbs water.
Fiber supplements, such as Metamucil & psyllium , are designed specifically to absorb water. When taking these supplements, its always necessary to drink more water.
But Mr. Monastyrsky make a very good point with this explanation, which applies equally to children and adults.
Fiber is just like a roll of toilet paper, which is just fiber and glue holding it together. What happens when you throw a roll of toilet paper in water. It triple or even quadruples in size.
Imagine your gut. You have mild constipation for a variety of reasons including stress and an over-packed schedule, so you take some Metamucil. In your gut, this means the fiber you’ve just taken has absorbed water in your system and has triple or quadrupled….. INSIDE your digestive tract! Ahk! This makes for bloating, and larger and larger stools.
The anus is about the size of a quarter, and is designed for stools of roughly the same size to pass through. Stools larger than that are hard to pass and require straining. In the beginning, as you drink lots of water, you may pass some stools easily. Even if you don’t, you push through this (pun intended!), knowing the importance of elimination.
With the continued bulking of your stool due to the fiber and an increase in necessary straining, you may still think you’re a bit constipated, so you take more Metamucil. Perhaps you even consult a physician who recommends it. You get even more bloating and even larger stools, perhaps stomach cramps.
You of course to manage to, painfully, pass some stools, enough to not worry too much in spite of the increasing effort it takes.
In the meantime, the backed-up stool is leaching toxins into your body, and doing damage to the thin mucus lining of your digestive tract. This thin mucus lining is also where loads of good bacteria live and thrive. Once this lining is gone, your digestive tract is vulnerable to a variety of diseases. Once this lining is gone, you’re good bacteria is also and harmful bacteria and fungus can run rampant, further exacerbating the problem.
A few years later, you notice some more cramping and discomfort, maybe even some diarrhea.. Eventually you go to a doctor who tells you have irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, or one of many other digestive disorder. And so begins a journey down a potentially fatal road. With too many, this road ends with colon removal.
Don’t do it folks! I suggest consuming only fiber from natural sources, nuts and veggies, and not too much. Fiber added to bread/cracker/pasta/rice products is denatured and has nearly zero nutritional content, and can also be damaging to those with sensitive digestion.
You don’t need very much fiber at all. Some is good, but too much can cause problems. In fact, some digestive disorder patients may be best on a no-fiber diet until their digestive tracts have healed. If this might be you, contact me for more information.
Do you know whats good for moving your bowels? Three things:
1. Reduce Stress. Stress can cause the body’s regular functions to slow down or halt. After all, how you can you have healthy digestion if you eat on the run, and quite literally don’t have a spare few minutes to relax in the bathroom. Slow down, and your digestion will thank you.
2. Healthy fats! Healthy fats are easily absorbed by the body and naturally slide through the digestive system. A diet rich in healthy fats, and low in bulking foods will result in smooth flowing. Healthy fats include: coconut oil, pastured butter, lard and tallow from well-raised animals, and olive oil.
3. Fermented Foods. Good bacteria folks. Good bacteria allows all of your body systems to function properly, including the digestive system and immune systems. With good bacteria, you’ll get sick less and move those stools with ease.
I hope your week flows well!