Where Did All the Fiber Go?

Fiber’s Disappearing Act

Most health experts believe we should be getting 25-35 grams of fiber every day.  As Americans, we consume on average 10-15 grams of fiber a day.  This is a problem.

The consumption of fiber in the human population has continued to decrease over the course of human history.  In the last couple centuries it has taken a dive.  This most recent drop seems to have started with the genesis of food processing.  All that processing removes valuable fiber, as well as other nutrients.  Add that loss of fiber to America’s preference for poor food choices, and it’s easy to see how our fiber intake is decreased.

A Hole in Our Diets

Progressively, we have been exchanging high fiber, whole food products such as whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables for processed grains, potatoes with no skins, sugar, and processed oils.  This has left a huge hole in our diets, especially considering the health benefits of fiber.

Beyond the Basics

Most people are familiar with using fiber for constipation, but research in the last century has shown fiber to be benenficial for much more.  Fiber is broken down by good bacteria in our intestines.  It is a source of food for them, but when they have digested the fiber it serves as fuel for our intestinal cells.  Fiber is also beneficial for removing toxins from the body.  It has been shown in studies to help with maintenance of healthy weight and weight loss.

Fiber Helps More Than Just Digestion

Soluble fiber, such as those found in oats and beans, help lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.   Beta glucans, the soluble fiber from oats, have been allowed to carry a heart health claim by the FDA.  Soluble fiber is also beneficial for promoting maintenance of healthy blood sugar levels, which makes it especially important for diabetics.  Heart disease and diabetes are two of the most critical issues facing Americans today.  Finding one natural substance that helps fight both conditions is good news for the health world.

Time for Change

In an era of elimination issues, cardiovascular disease, and sugar imbalance, fiber is an important element to to return to our diets.   Since it is abundant in many whole vegetable-based foods, it is not difficult to add back into the diet.  It just takes a little conscious effort, and maybe a slightly longer preparation time for dinner.

Metabolic Syndrome (Syndrome X)

An Unknown But Common Problem

The term “metabolic syndrome” probably sounds like a term that is best left in the circle of the medical elite.  Well, I think it’s a concept that should be better understood by all Americans.  Metabolic Syndrome is a very American disease, for lack of a better term.  It only occurs in affluent nations.  Approximately 50 million Americans have this syndrome.  To understand this syndrome is to understand a major sickness affecting our nation today.

Increasing in Frequency

Metabolic syndrome is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.  One focus of ATP III is the management of metabolic syndrome (syndrome X). Metabolic syndrome is a combination of risk factors such as high blood sugar levels, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure. This syndrome is becoming more common in America and is being given more attention by the American Heart Association and other leading organizations.

There’s Still Hope

Metabolic syndrome is highly influenced by diet and life style choices.  Because it’s based on America’s bad diet, it’s necessary to include a variety of whole foods such as beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, whole fruits,  and vegetables.  The only sure way to avoid Syndrome X is to lead a healthy life.

Can Oat Beta Glucan Really Help With Weight Loss?

Beta Glucans

The soluble fiber from oats, which is mostly oat beta glucan, can be beneficial for someone looking to achieve healthy weight.  It has many properties that contribute to maintaining and achieving healthy weight loss goals.

The Benefits are Numerous

Because it’s a fiber, it can increase the feeling of fullness when taken with a meal.  Fiber is the last nutrient to breakdown in the digetstive tract, which can extend the feeling of satiety.  Fiber has also been shown in studies to increase a hormone that makes us feel full called CCK (cholecystokinin).  This pretty much translates into:  fiber makes you eat less.

Keeping an Internal Balance

Because it is viscous it can slow the emptying of food from the stomach.  This slow down decreases the rate at which sugar is absorbed, thereby having a positive effect on blood sugar levels.  When sugar levels are high in the blood stream insulin is released.  Insulin causes the sugar in the blood to push into the cells.  Fats also get pushed into the cells, which increases chances of weight-gain.  When there is a large release of insulin we also can have a fast dip in blood sugar, which can cause fatigue and hunger.  A good example of this cause-and-effect is eating a candy bar.  You eat that snack and your blood sugar rises very high.  To counteract it, insulin is released.  The insulin causes the sugars and fats to stay in your body, and your blood sugar to crash.  It is also believed that slowing down the absorption of sugars can affect how much is eaten at the following meal.

The Wonder of Fiber

One of the ways oat beta glucan is able to lower cholesterol is by binding to fat in the digestive tract and carrying it out of the body.  It also carries other calories out of the body as well.   In her Fiber35 Diet Brenda Watson calls this effect of the “fiber flush effect”.  The USDA and others have confirmed this effect.

Obviously, fiber is a good thing.  Everyone should eat a little more fiber.  Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that America is going to change its eating habits as a whole.  Every person who takes up healthy eating practices, including an increase in fiber, is a success story.

Study- Nutrim increased HDL, decreased LDL, decreased fasting blood glucose, and significantly reduced body weight and BMI.

Nutrim Offers Hope

One pill that does it all.  Isn’t that what most Americans are looking for?  How about a powder that does a lot?  One research study showed that Nutrim powder might be as good as it gets without any crazy side effects.

The Plan

The study was carried out in 38 middle aged, overweight males with high cholesterol and normal blood pressure.  The men were split into two groups which ate two diffent diets for 8 weeks.  The first group followed the American Heart Association (AHA) step II diet with low amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol and exercise.  The second group was given this diet with the addition of Nutrim oat bran.

Nutrim and Cholesterol

The Nutrim group increased their HDL on average 10 points(27.8%), lowered their LDL 47(27.3%), and lowered their total cholesterol about 48 points.  The other group also saw improvements in LDL and total cholesterol, but the decrease was not as great as with Nutrim.  The other group did not see an increase in their HDL like the Nutrim group did.

Nutrim and Glucose

Fasting glucose also dropped 6 points in the Nutrim group where there was a slight increase in fasting glucose in the other group.   Both groups had significant weight loss, but the Nutrim lost more weight (13lbs compared to 8lbs in the other group.)

Tolerance of Nutrim

Even though the Nutrim was in a higher dose than normal it was well tolerated.  This study utilized Nutrim in bread, which had significantly better flavor and texture compared to the wheat bread in the other group as rated by the participants.

How Does Too Much Sugar Affect Heart Disease?

Sugar and Insulin

When we eat sugar it is absorbed into the body and makes its way to the bloodstream. The bloodstream then carries the sugar to the cells of the body. When a large amount of sugar is in the bloodstream, the body releases a large amount of insulin. This insulin drives sugar into the cells to be utilized for energy. After a long time of exposure to sugar the cells may become “resistant” to insulin.

The Effects of Sugar

If the cells do not accept insulin, sugar can build up in the bloodstream. High levels of sugar in the bloodstream are toxic to the body. High blood sugar will make changes in the body that make it more difficult for the arteries to open up and can increase the rate at which blood clots.

Sugar will also begin to combine with other substances in the blood, like protein and LDL cholesterol.
When sugar combines with proteins in the walls of the arteries, it can make the arteries more susceptible to atherosclerosis.

Blood Sugar and Your Cholesterol

If sugar combines with LDL cholesterol, it can cause it to become oxidized more easily. Oxidized LDL is much more dangerous than regular LDL and is more likely to build up in the arteries and cause atherosclerosis. LDL levels in diabetics are not that different from nondiabetics, but this oxidized form of LDL can play a greater role in the progression of heart disease.

Diabetics, those that have chronic high blood sugar, also tend to have low HDL “good” cholesterol and high triglycerides. 

Keeping Healthy

Part of the strategy to control your risk for heart disease should involve a restriction of foods that can spike blood sugar levels. We know candy, pop, and pasteries are not good for blood sugar, but refined flours can also have a negative effect on blood sugar. There are also many sources of hidden sugar in foods so make sure to check your labels.