I know a lot of people, when I start talking about fiber, are going to envision the elderly and prunes. Maybe bran muffins and Grape-Nuts cereal. Certainly, though, it’s not something the majority of us should be concerned about, though. Right?
I have a few family members and friends that follow the popular “Paleo” diet. They load up on grass-fed beef and eggs. When I asked one about the troubling lack of fiber in his diet, he scoffed. “Fiber!?! Fiber’s not important. I poop fine.”
Wrong! As I’ve come to learn from reading Dr. Robert Lustig’s book, Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease, fiber plays a critical role in your metabolism as well as your digestion. Fiber keeps insulin down and eases the fructose load on the liver in five ways:
- Fiber (soluble and insoluble) forms a gelatinous barrier between the food and the intestinal wall, slowing the absorption of glucose, fructose, and fat.
- Soluble fiber binds to bile acid, helping to lower cholesterol. Insoluble fiber decreases cholesterol and lowers blood glucose.
- Fiber helps you feel full faster so that you eat less overall.
- Fiber delays dietary fat from absorption in the intestine, keeping insulin low.
- Fiber allows for beneficial bacteria in the gut to proliferate while keeping undesirable bacteria at bay.
We already eat a lot of fiber through our fruits and vegetables in my family, but we do still consume white rice and pasta on occasion. I’ve committed to not replacing our stores of each after we’ve eaten through them. When you remove the outside bran of a grain, you remove its protection from digestive enzymes in the intestine. Your liver is quickly flooded with glucose that reaches a higher peak, resulting in a higher insulin peak. I want to stick to whole grains in the future.
Fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, is the most misunderstood weapon in our nutritional arsenal. […] Fiber alone won’t mitigate all the negative effects of sugar, but it’s a hell of a good start. Want to reverse your diabetes? Want to improve your metabolic health? Put fiber back on the menu. –Dr. Robert Lustig