I’ve been saying for some time that contrary to popular belief, fiber is not necessary in the human diet, and could possibly do much more harm than good. Insoluble fiber cannot be digested in the intestine, so it remains intact all the way through the digestive tract, scraping and irritating as it goes on it’s way. Constant, repetitive irritation causes inflammation, and inflammation can eventually lead to cancer. According to an article published on Sciencedaily.com on January 23rd 2012, entitled “Diets High in Fiber Won’t Protect Against Diverticulosis, Study Finds”, too much fiber could also be responsible for causing diverticulosis. Is this more evidence that fiber is not a good thing?
“For more than 40 years, scientists and physicians have thought eating a high-fiber diet lowered a person’s risk of diverticulosis, a disease of the large intestine in which pouches develop in the colon wall. A new study of more than 2,000 people reveals the opposite may be true.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine , found that consuming a diet high in fiber raised, rather than lowered, the risk of developing diverticulosis. The findings also counter the commonly-held belief that constipation increases a person’s risk of the disease.
“Despite the significant morbidity and mortality of symptomatic diverticulosis, it looks like we may have been wrong, for decades, about why diverticula actually form,” said Anne Peery, MD, a fellow in the gastroenterology and hepatology division at UNC and the study’s lead researcher. The study appears in the February 2012 issue of the journal Gastroenterology.”
“The opposite may be true”…..imagine that! Of course I’m being sarcastic here. It’s no big surprise for anyone who follows an alternative nutritional path, to find that the truth is actually completely the opposite of what we are told by the “mainstream”. This is precisely why we can’t always trust our doctors to tell us the truth. It’s not necessarily that our doctors don’t want to tell us the truth and make us healthier, it’s just that sometimes they’re not particularly well informed, or up-to-date with the most cutting edge information, like we are.
“Since the late 1960s, doctors have recommended a high-fiber diet to regulate bowel movements and reduce the risk of diverticulosis. This recommendation is based on the idea that a low fiber diet will cause constipation and in turn generate diverticula as a result of increased pressure in the colon. However, few studies have been conducted to back up that assumption. “Our findings dispute commonly-held beliefs because asymptomatic diverticulosis has never been rigorously studied,” said Peery.”
“We were surprised to find that a low-fiber diet was not associated with a higher prevalence of asymptomatic diverticulosis,” said Peery. In fact, the study found those with the lowest fiber intake were 30 percent less likely to develop diverticula than those with the highest fiber intake.
The study also found constipation was not a risk factor and that having more frequent bowel movements actually increased a person’s risk. Compared to those with fewer than seven bowel movements per week, individuals with more than 15 bowel movements per week were 70 percent more likely to develop diverticulosis.”
So constipation isn’t bad, and neither is an infrequent pooping schedule. That’s great, but you may want to stay seated for the next paragraph…..
“The study found no association between diverticulosis and physical inactivity, intake of fat, or intake of red meat. The disease’s causes remain unknown, but the researchers believe gut flora may play a role.”
Yes, you read that correctly, they found no association between diverticulosis and the intake of fat, OR RED MEAT. Finally, poor old red meat gets a bit of a reprieve.
As usual, I’m not cool enough to have access to the original study, but I’m guessing that the majority of fiber that was fed to study participants was wheat based. This means that our lovely friend gluten would also have been present. There are always confounding variables in studies, and since I can’t see the whole paper, I can only wonder at how many other fundamental problems may be present in the study, but it leaves me wondering if the results seen from the study were caused by the fiber itself, or the combination of gluten with the fiber.
Regardless of the implications, if a person eats according to a healthy Paleo diet or Primal template, and therefore avoids all gluten containing grains, the majority of the possible offenders are already excluded. Fiber will be cut to a minimum, and gluten will be avoided completely. Let’s face it, the governmental recommendations of 35 grams of fiber per day are more obviously wrong now than ever, but people getting their daily fiber intake from Paleo fiber sources like fruits and vegetables hardly have a hope of actually consuming that 35 grams per day anyway, so either that’s a sign, or just a happy coincidence.
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Barry Cripps is a Paleo-based Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, who operates out of Bowling Green, Kentucky.
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