How much fiber should I eat? It’s not easy to find an answer to that question.
FDA says 28 grams, minimum (14 grams per 1,000 calories).
Numerous google hits tell me that “high fat, low fiber” causes constipation. Of course, none of them say anything about the total carb consumption on the low fat diet they recommend. Perhaps it’s the excess carbs and not the lack of fiber that’s the problem?
Some sources cite the study, now disproved, that fiber prevents colon cancer. While others acknowledge that this long established “fact” is not true, they still insist that high fiber intake is required for colon health. Supposedly, it is not good to have this “toxic waste” sitting around in our intestines, and we need fiber to push it out. The now so popular colon cleanse products are also based on this fear of the “toxic waste”. To understand why our body could not handle the waste it was designed for in the first place is beyond me.
Many diets suggests high fiber intake. The higher the better. Fiber is supposed to fill you up, absorb some of the fats/calories you eat and bring them out undigested, and prevent the apparently inevitable constipation from any calorie restricted diet.
Even Weight Watchers is promoting high fiber consumption. In their point formula, fiber is subtracted so the more fiber you eat, the more other foods you can fit into your alloted points. For example, a slice Scandinavian Bran Crispbread (16 cals, 3 carbs, 3 fiber, 1 protein) adds up to minus 0.28 points.
Then there is the other camp that believes fiber is not necessary and might even be harmful. Coincidentally, this camp is also in favor of high fat, low carb.
Of course, this other camp most likely have their own agenda, just as the “low fat, high fiber” camp has.
Barry Groves, the author of “Eat Fat, Get Thin” wrote an interesting article about fiber: The Bran Wagon. Is it true? I have no idea but it certainly provides another point of view in the debate.
Another anti-fiber author is Konstantin Monastyrsky, who is promoting his book Fiber Menace. Again, I have no idea how much of this is true, and I do not recommend buying the book, but I find the website a fascinating read.
And last, perhaps the best anti-fiber article, by Dr Eades: A cautionary tale of mucus for and aft.
Personally, I find much more in the anti-fiber information being true (for me) than the pro-fiber claims. I did an experiment the last couple of weeks, eating a lot of fiber in the form of bran.
The experiment started out unintentionally. I just happen to like the crunch from Scandinavian Bran Crispbread, and can eat a lot of it. I probably have had in excess of 40 grams of fiber as compared to the 10-15 grams I normally get from vegetables.
- More frequent bowel movements, bordering on diarrhea. I didn’t “need” this as I don’t suffer from constipation and never have.
- Bloating. This amount of bran requires a high water consumption. The two combined certainly filled up my stomach, and not in a pleasant way. Some “high-fiber” diets use this fact to claim that this would diminish appetite. That didn’t happen in my case.
- Gas. And a lot of it. Thankfully odorless. While fiber is not digested directly by the body, the bacteria we have in our guts thrive on it. I think I prefer to starve these particular bacteria for a while.
My experiment convinced me that I don’t need to add fiber to my low carb, high fat diet. And while I like the bran crispbread, it has to be an occasional treat (note, most people find these resembling card board and would never label them as a “treat”).
My results might not be typical. My diet is not low fat and I have never had to rely on laxatives to “help”.
From what I understand, high fat consumption combined with low carbs prevents constipation and fiber supplements are not necessary.
By the way, did you know that oil is a well proven, harmless (as far as I understand) home remedy for constipation? Suggested dosage is 1 tablespoon twice per day. That’s why I’m not surprised that my low carb, high fat diet keeps me regular without any added fiber supplements.