Today I want to talk about a very important topic when it comes to a common constipation treatment I’m sure you’ve used, probably many time, which has a glittery appearance but is down-right dangerous.
The suspect in question is ‘fiber’.
What are the side-effect of fiber intake? Is fiber doing you more bad than good? Can too much fiber cause constipation?
Now, there is no doubt that the gut is the front line of health.
Housing 100 trillion bacteria from thousands of different species weighing several pounds that contribute 70%-80% of the body’s immune system, the gut is where the rubber meets the road.
A gut that is operating properly has a musosal layer that promotes and supports friendly bacteria, whilst providing a critical barrier to pathogenic bacteria.
When this protective layer is damaged, all of a sudden the intestine becomes incredibly vulnerable to infectious disease and gut dysbiosis from pathogenic bacteria.
Not only this, but the gut is also swarmed by a heavy load of toxins from other sources too. Research indicates that the average person eats around 5,000 to 10,000 different plant toxins, which end up totalling 1500mg a day, plus around 2000 mg of burnt toxins generated from cooking.
This is not an easy feat for the gut lining to endure, especially when it has already been compromised by exposure to processed foods, pollution, poor sleep, stress, and other detrimental forces. This polluted digestive environment now supports the proliferation of pathogenic bacteria and the ability to overthrow this ‘bad’ bacteria with ‘good’ bacteria
A unhealthy digestive system is at the heart of all cases of constipation.
But what the hell happens when the remedy becomes the ENEMY?
Fiber is pushed as a constipation cure by mainstream doctors, popular health publications, health blogs, and even your friends and family I’m sure. That’s how embedded it is in our culture.
I hear people tell me stories of when they’ve returned to the doctor office for a second or third time after previous consultation recommendations of increasing fiber intake didn’t work only to hear, ‘You only need to increase it more! More fiber! OK, good luck. Bye.’ Pushed out of the doctors room feeling unheard and misunderstood.
Or you hear a family member or friend say; “You’re a bit constipation!? Oh, all you need is prune juice. That’ll fix you up!”
…and you know what?
Yep. It does for the majority of people. The excessive increase of fiber forces your bowels to do something that should come naturally.
In some cases, the fiber intake from the prune juice is fine. Their fiber intake has probably been too low and the prune juice got their fiber intake back into the normal range.
But I feel many people are already consuming normal levels of fiber but then going overboard with fiber-rich products on top of it.
When you have to ‘force’ any bodily process to do its thing, then there is actaully something underlying it which is the real culprit. But instead of addressing the underlying problem, you keep forcing… and more forcing… until the bodypart stretches to breaking point, wears out and stops completely. You look around for another tool to force your bodypart to start working again, not realising that your body was trying to tell you something. [HINT: it wasn't telling you to use more fiber or laxatives.]
For every gram of wheatbran intake, which is a grain packed with fiber and used by many, stool weight increases to around 5.7 grams.
Stools that are being unnaturally bulked with this kind of fiber-laden foods are disastrously forcing an abnormal stretch of colonic walls to take place. The bulked stool usually allows an already damaged gut to move it along, but for how long!? As the colonic walls adapt to the abnormal stretch they require more and more fiber, therefore more and more bulk, to keep moving stools along.
In the worse case scenario’s, delicate nerves in the colonic walls can be irreversibly damaged by the increased force of fiber-bulked stools and the whole colonic peristalsis (the movement of stools through the colon) stops completely.
But this is not the only reason a colon can shut-down it’s own peristalsis.
There is also another contributing factor.
Most people think that fiber is indigestible, and that it comes straight out of the body in their stool. It’s true, fiber is indigestible to humans, but not to bacteria.
Fiber is the delicious food that enables gut bacteria to multiply, strengthen their habitat, and ‘run the show’.
Bacteria, not undigested food, make up most of the dry weight of your stool.
Are you starting to figure out what’s happening?
If someone suffering from constipation already has a backwards gut flora, the increased fiber intake they have used to force their bowels to pass stools is the SAME fiber that is feeding the bad bacteria, allowing them to multiply and wreak even more havoc on an already inflamed and sick gut.
Not only that but cereals grains delivers further toxins into the digestive tract (gluten, opioid peptides, wheat germ agglutinin) and whole grain fibers and other ‘roughage’ scrape and injure the intestinal wall.
For gut health to be restored fiber needs to be minimized.
This minimization needs to happen over a period of time, especially if fiber in the main ingredient you are currently using to be able move your bowels. That’s just the nature of the beast.
Calculate how many grams of fiber you are currently getting. Every few days reduce by 1 or 2 grams.
If you’re eating a lot of fiber currently, work on getting your fiber gram intake into the ‘teens’ (13-19g) a day.
Best in health to you,