For a while it seemed that everyone was talking about the importance of fiber, and its role in preventing a variety of diseases. After much speculation, we now have a few answers about what fiber really does, and what makes it an important component of good nutrition.
Fiber is simply things that humans cannot digest. Many vegetables and fruit have methylcellulose – the stringy stuff– and we, as humans cannot digest it. Cows can, horses can, deer can – but not humans. This is why it is better to cook vegetables – because by breaking down some of the fiber our bodies can get to the nutrients that are locked into the vegetables.
What we do with it is simply pass the material through our body. If you don’t have enough fiber you can become constipated – and develop things like hemorrhoids or diverticulosis. Fiber is also good if you have chronically loose bowel movements – it will help bulk up the stools.
Years ago a group of people thought increased fiber would lead to less colon cancer – -with the theory that fiber acts as a broom to sweep out the colon and thus keep the colon from being in contact with toxic stool. Well- that has been tested in a number of places and just isn’t the case. Even people with high fiber diets have no lower incidence of colon cancer than those with an average fiber diet.
Some thought fiber would increase the metabolism – so by taking more fiber in you would be able to loose weight. That was proved to be incorrect also.
What is known is that the more bulk fiber you have- from fruits and vegetables- with higher fiber — the longer the sense of feeling full is.
This is why we recommend to patients to increase green vegetables, or squash, or beans – to increase their fiber – and to keep them feeling full for a longer period of time.
So- if you want to lose weight- increase your fiber and decrease your processed food. If you suffer from chronic hemorrhoids – see your doctor- but before then start on a high fiber diet (I recommend to my patients they take a scoop of fiber in 12 ounces of water followed by 12 more ounces of water).
Find yourself hungry mid-afternoon — consider a high fiber snack – like fruits.
So fiber has a lot of advantages – and the best source of fiber — vegetables
Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and went to medical school. Dr. Simpson, a weight loss surgeon is an advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he believes teaching people to improve their health through their food and in their kitchen. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcolm Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska and in 2013 Dr Simpson won the National Indian Health Board Area Impact Award. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit www.terrysimpson.com.