MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT FIBER:
- Bran is synonymous with fiber
- All fiber is fibrous or stringy
- All fiber tastes the same
WHAT FIBER IS:
- Fiber is the indigestible remnants of plant cells
- Fiber plant remnants come in 5 main types from many
- There are many differences in physiological impact
among these five types
THE 5 MAIN TYPES OF FIBER ARE:
- Gums and Mucilages
WHAT FIBER DOES
SOURCES: Fruits, vegetables, bran, whole meal,
bread, and beans.
- Increase bulk of intestinal waste and eases it quickly
through the colon.
- Prevent constipation and helps diarrhea
- By the above actions dilutes and flushes cancer causing
toxins out of the
- intestinal tract.
- Help level out glucose in the blood.
- Help curb weight gain due to its ability to fill you up
without fattening you out.
- Help relieve constipation.
- Water down carcinogens in the bowel.
- Aid in weight reduction.
Apples, citrus fruits, grapes, berries, and bran.
- Lower cholesterol significantly.
- Aid in the elimination of bile acids through the
- short circuiting the development of gall stones and
IT DOES NOT:
GUMS AND MUCILAGES
SOURCES: Locust bean gum, karaya gum, guar gum, oat
- Lower cholesterol significantly.
- Help diabetics handle blood sugar better.
Cereals, bran, whole meal flour, raspberries,
strawberries, brussel sprouts, cabbage, spinach, kale, parsley, and
- Flush bile acids and cholesterol out of the intestines.
- Aid in the prevention of gall stones.
FIBER A More Detailed Explanation
Dietary fibers are vegetable substances
not digestible by the enzymes of the alimentary tract. They are derived from
plant cell walls and from the nonstructural polysaccharides in natural foods.
Fibers include cellulosics and hemicellulosics, gums, pectins, and lignins.
Brans and pectins obtained from dietary
sources are probably the most effective types of fiber. Experimental trials
indicate that fiber protects the blood and tissue against various dietary and
environmental toxins and carcinogens by maintaining the good health of the
bowel, and rendering toxins inert by complexing with them.
Low fiber intake is conclusively related
to obesity, diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, diseases of the colon -
including cancer - and to various other modern ailments. Fiber-rich diets lead
to decreases in body weight, blood sugar levels, serum cholesterol levels, and
levels of total triglycerides, with corresponding improvements in health. Low
concentrations of serum lipids and low incidence of coronary heart disease are
found in Seventh Day Adventists, Trappist monks, strict vegetarians,
lacto-vegetarians, and those using the Zen macrobiotic diet.
METHOD OF ACTION
Dietary Fiber Reduces Serum Cholesterol
Not all dietary fibers produce the same
metabolic effects. It is helpful, therefore, to subdivide fibers into groups
according to their mode of action.
Cellulosics and Hemicellulosics
include those non-digestible portions of many plants, including bran, cereals,
grains, beans, peppers, carrots and cabbage, that absorb water, and increase in
bulk. They have a normalizing effect on the bowel, prevent constipation by
accelerating the passage of material through the large intestine, and protect
the body from several diseases, including cancer, colitis, and spastic colon.
Gums include the extremely water
loving material found in oats, guar, Irish moss and locust beans, to name a
few. Gums are also inert, simply absorbing water, swelling, and serving much
the same purpose as the cellulosics.
Pectins are the water soluble
substances that bond adjacent cell walls in the tissues of many plants,
including apples, citrus fruits, potatoes, strawberries and green beans. They
yield a gel which is the basis of fruit jellies. Pectins and gums bind with
bile acids, and decrease cholesterol levels and fat absorption.
Lignins are plant polymers that
combine with cellulose to form plant cell walls and the cementing material
between them. Lignin has been found to reduce time of passage of stomach
contents, bind with bile acids and lower cholesterol levels. Pectin has the
greatest effect on cholesterol levels. In 1957, it was found that dietary
pectin (in rats) increased the excretion of lipids, cholesterol and bile acids.
Thereafter, an increasing number of reports verified those data and extended
them to include humans. By 1977, the effect had been thoroughly documented and
established. For example, in one three week study in humans, plasma cholesterol
fell about 13% or more as long as apple pectin was administered (about 15
gm/day). When the pectin was withdrawn, cholesterol levels rose.
It is believed that pectins operate by
binding with bile acids, thereby decreasing cholesterol and fat absorption. The
results of most experiments indicate that mucilaginous fibers such as pectin,
plantain and fenugreek are much better in decreasing serum cholesterol levels
than are particulate fibers such as are found in wheat bran. It is important to
note that pectin reduces lymphatic cholesterol absorption best when the diet
contains cholesterol. (Pectin is also effective when used for producing
regressions in, and preventing the formation of gallstones.) A few studies show
that bran from wheat, corn and sugar beets lowers serum cholesterol levels, but
most data fail to show a significant effect in that direction. The presence of
other dietary factors may finally determine to what extent bran is effective.
Oat bran, which is partly mucilaginous, does lower cholesterol levels
Cellulose does not lower cholesterol
levels except when administered in large quantities, and lignins have variable
effects. In summary, it appears that mucilaginous fiber (pectin, oat bran)
rather than particulate fiber (cellulosics, most brans, lignins) is responsible
for decrease serum cholesterol levels. Several mechanisms have been postulated
to explain the effects of fiber. It may alter gastric emptying time and
intestinal transit rates, thereby decreasing the availability of carbohydrates
to be absorbed. Or, since dietary fibers swell (each part of polysaccharide may
hold 100 parts water), they may simply be filling, limiting the amount of food
that can be eaten. In this manner the fiber actually displaces foods that
contribute saturated fat and cholesterol to the diet. By modulating glucose
absorption, dietary fiber could prevent or reduce obesity.
The most likely explanation is that the
mucilaginous fibers form gels in the small intestine that interfere with the
absorption of both cholesterol and bile acids. This hypothesis is supported
directly by the finding that pectin reduces lymphatic cholesterol absorption
best when the diet contains cholesterol Pectin also increase the excretion of
neutral bile acids because its ionic charge imparts a high affinity for
solubilized biliary salts. Pectin-salt complexes are excreted as waste,
resulting in a reduction of the available biliary salts which would normally be
used by the body to make possible the absorption of cholesterol. This, in turn,
may indirectly lower cholesterol levels even further because the body will now
use up even more endogenous (non-dietary) cholesterol to produce more biliary
Bran, though it doesnt lower
cholesterol levels as surely as pectin does, has nevertheless been shown to
help prevent the precipitation of cholesterol from the bile that produces
gallstones. Bile is a finely balanced solution of cholesterol, bile salts and
phospholipids. The oversecretion of cholesterol or the undersecretion of bile
salts leads to supersaturation of cholesterol that then precipitates as
gallstones. Bran increases the size of the bile salt pools when necessary and
otherwise normalizes the balance between the major components of the bile.
Thirty grams of bran per day has been shown to significantly improve the bile
composition in several patients with cholesterol gallstones.
Pectin and Other Dietary Fiber Protects
the Body from Toxins
Russian research has shown that heavy
metals, such as lead and mercury, are excreted harmlessly and much more
efficiently when pectin is included in the diet. Apple pectin, rice bran, wheat
bran, alfalfa fiber and burdock root fiber, along with other sources of dietary
fiber, have been shown to protect the body, and especially the gut, against the
toxic effects of several common food additives, including amaranth (FD & C
No. 2), Tween 60 (polyoxyetheylen sorbitan monostearate), sodium cyclamate,
tartrazine (FD 7 C Yellow No. 5), and Sunset Yellow (FD &C Yellow No. 6).
Possible modes of action include a binding of the additives with the fiber,
thereby preventing absorption, or perhaps the fiber prevents adverse effects
through an action on the digestive process or gut bacteria.
Pectin May Be Used In The Management of
There is growing evidence that the regular
use of pectin may lessen the severity of diabetes, presumably because pectin
absorbs sugars and carbohydrates, releasing them slowly in the intestinal
tract. This slow release produces a much slower and steady rise in blood sugar
levels. It has been suggested that fiber-depleted diets actually may
precipitate diabetes mellitus. One study showed that adding pectin (and guar)
to meals significantly reduced glucose and insulin levels in nondiabetic as
well as non-insulin-requiring diabetic patients following meals.
Insulin-requiring patients experienced a lowering of glucose levels. In a
similar study, insulin-requiring diabetic patients experience a continuing
effect of lowered plasma glucose when placed on a long term pectin-rich diet.
These patients eventually required much less insulin.
It is known that the use of dietary fiber,
especially pectin, can eventually produce long lasting reduction of blood
glucose levels. This in turn would potentiate the effects of insulin
The use of large amounts of fiber on a
continuous basis may partially block the digestion, absorption or reabsorption
of a wide variety of drugs and fat soluble vitamins.
The antidiabetic ability of fiber may be
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corticosteroids, dextrothyroxin, epinephrine, ethanol, glucagon, and marijuana.
The antidiabetic effects of fiber may be
decrease when used in conjunction with phenothiazines, rifampin, thiazide
diuretics, and thyroid hormones.
The antidiabetic action of fiber may be
enhanced when it is used with allopurinal, anabolic steroids, chloramphenicol,
chlofibrate, fenfluramine, guanethidine, MAO inhibitor, phenylbutazone,
probenecid and phenyramidol.
The antidiabetic action of the herb may be
enhanced when used in conjunction with salicylates, sulfinpyrazone,
sulfonamides, and tetracyclines.
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