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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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September 03, 2013

Dietary Fiber Is Bad for Sex – That’s the Only Claim About It That Isn’t a Myth

By Guest
312 Comments

Bran CerealToday’s article is a guest post from Konstantin Monastyrsky of GutSense.org. In keeping with the mission statement of Mark’s Daily Apple to investigate, discuss, and critically rethink everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness, I like to periodically give credible researchers who are challenging conventional wisdom the opportunity to share their insights and findings here. It’s a great way to open a dialogue on topics that deserve challenging. Like fiber, for instance. Everyone knows that fiber is good for you, right? Well, let’s find out what Konstantin—a guy who’s spent an incredible amount of time researching this topic—thinks about this truism. Enter Konstantin…

Does dietary fiber contain anything of nutritional value? No, it doesn’t. Zero vitamins… Zero minerals… Zero protein… Zero fat… Nothing, zilch, not even digestible carbohydrates. Why, then, is it considered a healthy nutrient? As the story goes, you can thank Dr. John Harvey Kellogg for that:

“Dr. Kellogg was obsessed with chastity and constipation. True to principle, he never made love to his wife. To “remedy” the sin of masturbation, he advocated circumcision without anesthetic for boys, and mutilation of the clitoris with carbolic acid for girls. He blamed constipation for “nymphomania” in women, and lust in men, because, according to Kellogg, impacted stools inside one’s rectum were stimulating the prostate gland and the female vagina into sexual proclivity.” [link]

To fix these “ailments,” Dr. Kellogg was prescribing a coarse vegetarian diet along with 1 to 3 ounces of bran daily, and mineral oil with every meal. As any nutritionist will tell you, the decline of libido and infertility are among the very first symptoms of malnutrition prevalent among ardent vegans. And in this particular case, extra bran and mineral oil were “enhancing” damage by blocking the assimilation of nutrients from an already meager diet.

And what was Dr. Kellogg’s rationale for prescribing mineral oil? Well, because so much fiber was enlarging stools, intense straining was required to expel them. The oil was used as a lubricant to reduce pain caused by straining, and to prevent bloody anal fissures inside the anal canal.

However, the ultimate fame and money came to Dr. Kellogg not from crusading against sex, but from ready-to-eat morning cereals after he found that baking bran into cereals proved to be incredibly profitable for Kellogg Company. From that point on, it took another sixty years or so of relentless brainwashing to turn what once used to be a dirt-cheap livestock feed into a premium health food.

Well, that’s an old story, and I can understand if you doubt it—it sounds too incredulous to be true! So, let’s debunk fiber’s mythology with facts and science. Here we go, one myth at a time:

Myth #1: For maximum health, obtain 30 to 40 g of fiber daily from fresh fruits and vegetables.

Reality: Here is how many fresh fruits you’ll need to eat throughout the day in order to obtain those 30 to 40 grams (1-1.4 oz.) of daily fiber:

Daily Fiber in Fruit

As you can see, that comes to five apples, three pears, and two oranges. A small apple contains 3.6 g of fiber and 15.5 g of sugars. A small pear—4.6 g and 14.5 g; and a small orange—2.3 g and 11.3 g, respectively (USDA National Nutrient Database; NDB #s: 09003; 09200; 09252 [link]).

These ten small (not medium or large) fruits will provide you with 36.4 g of indigestible fiber and a whopping 143.6 g of digestible sugars, or an equivalent of that many (ten) tablespoons of plain table sugar!

Ten Spoons of Sugar

And that‘s before accounting for all the other carbs consumed throughout the day for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and from snacks and beverages.

So ask yourself this question: even if you are a 100% healthy 25-year-old muscle-bound athlete, would you ever ingest that much sugar willingly? Well, maybe under the influence of a controlled substance or torture…

But that’s exactly what’s being recommended for “health purposes” to children and adults. It‘s not surprising that so many Americans are suffering from the ravages of diabetes and obesity—a moderately active adult can utilize no more than about 200 grams of carbohydrates per day without encountering a scourge of the inevitable obesity, prediabetes, or diabetes.

The ratio of digestible carbohydrates (sugars) to fiber in vegetables, cereals, breads, beans, and legumes is, on average, similar to fruits. Thus, no matter how hard you try to mix’n’match, you’ll be getting harmed all the same.

Please do note that if you are healthy, active, and normal weight, there is nothing wrong with consuming fruits and vegetables in moderation. The point of this section is to impress on you that it is NOT OK to binge on fruits to ingest recommended daily intake of fiber.

This myth—that fruits and vegetables are the best source of dietary fiber—is probably the most pervasive and damaging of all. If 30 grams of fiber is what you’re really after, you’re better off getting it from supplements. These, after all, have almost no digestible carbs. But, then, of course, you run into those other persistent falsehoods…

Myth #2: Fiber reduces blood sugar levels and prevents diabetes, metabolic disorders, and weight gain.

Reality: That’s a blatant deception. If you consume 100 g of plain table sugar at once, the blood absorbs all 100 g of sugar almost as soon as it reaches the small intestine, where the assimilation takes place. If you add 30 g of fiber into the mix, the fiber may extend the rate of sugar assimilation into the blood, from, let‘s say, one hour to three.

But at the end of those extra three hours the blood will still absorb exactly the same 100 g of sugar—not an iota more, not an iota less. If you are a diabetic, the only difference will be that you‘ll require more extended (long-acting) insulin for type 1 diabetes, or larger doses of medication for type 2 diabetes in order to deal with slow-digesting sugars, and your blood glucose test will not spike as high after the meal.

But you‘re fooling no one but a glucose meter. In all other respects, the damage will be all the same, or even worse. And that‘s even before taking into account the negative impact of fiber on the digestive organs, or hyperinsulinemia and triglycerides on the heart, blood vessels, and blood pressure.

Myth #3: Fiber-rich foods improve digestion by slowing down the digestive process.

Reality: Fiber indeed slows down the “digestive process,” because it interferes with digestion in the stomach and, later, clogs the intestines the “whole nine yards.” The myth is that it can be good for health and the digestive process.

Here is what you get from delayed digestion: indigestion (dyspepsia), heartburn (GERD), gastritis (the inflammation of the stomach‘s mucosal membrane), peptic ulcers, enteritis (the inflammation of the intestinal mucosal membrane), and further down the chain, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn‘s disease.

All this, in fact, is the core message of Fiber Menace: fiber slows down the digestive process! And slow digestion is ruinous for your health. Don‘t mess with fiber unless your gut is made of steel!

Myth #4: Fiber speeds food through the digestive tract, helping to protect it against cancer.

Reality: Not true. In fact, this claim directly contradicts the claim that fiber-rich foods slow down the digestive process. For a reality check, here’s an excerpt from a college-level physiology textbook that reveals the truth:

“Colonic Motility: Energy-rich meals with a high fat content increase motility [the rate of intestinal propulsion]; carbohydrates and proteins have no effect.”

R.F. Schmidt, G. Thews; Human Physiology, 2nd edition. 29.7:730 [link]

This, incidentally, is why low-fat diets and constipation commonly accompany each other. And don’t count on getting any cancer protection from fiber, either. That‘s yet another oft-repeated deception.

Myth #5: Fiber promotes a healthy digestive tract and reduces cancer risk.

Reality: Not true. Here’s what doctors-in-the-know have to say on the subject of the colon cancer/fiber connection:

Lack of Effect of a Low-Fat, High-Fiber Diet on the Recurrence of Colorectal Adenomas

“Adopting a diet that is low in fat and high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables does not influence the risk of recurrence of colorectal adenomas.”

Arthur Schatzkin, M.D et al. The New England Journal of Medicine; [link]

The excerpt below comes, of all places, from the Harvard School of Public Health:

Fiber and colon cancer

“For years, Americans have been told to consume a high-fiber diet to lower the risk of colon cancer—mainly on the basis of results from relatively small studies. Larger and better-designed studies have failed to show a link between fiber and colon cancer.”

Fiber: Start Roughing It [link]

Not convinced yet? Well, here is even more damning evidence from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

Letter Regarding Dietary Supplement Health Claim for Fiber With Respect to Colorectal Cancer

“Based on its review of the scientific evidence, FDA finds that (1) the most directly relevant, scientifically probative, and therefore most persuasive evidence (i.e., randomized, controlled clinical trials with fiber as a test substance) consistently finds that dietary fiber has no [preventive] effect on incidence of adenomatous polyps, a precursor of and surrogate marker for colorectal cancer; and (2) other available human evidence does not adequately differentiate dietary fiber from other components of diets rich in foods of plant origin, and thus is inconclusive as to whether diet-disease associations can be directly attributed to dietary fiber. FDA has concluded from this review that the totality of the publicly available scientific evidence not only demonstrates lack of significant scientific agreement as to the validity of a [preventive] relationship between dietary fiber and colorectal cancer, but also provides strong evidence that such a relationship does not exist.”

U. S. Food and Drug Administration – Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements; [link]

Alas, the story doesn’t end there. Adding insult to injury, Chapter 10 of my book entitled Fiber Menace, “Colon Cancer” cites studies that demonstrate the connection between increased fiber consumption and colon cancer. Also, countries with the highest and lowest consumption of meat are compared. Not surprisingly, the countries with the lowest consumption of meat and, correspondingly, the highest consumption of carbohydrates, including fiber, have the highest rate of digestive cancers, particularly of the stomach.

Myth #6: Fiber offers protection from breast cancer.

Reality: A blatant, preposterous lie. According to the recent massive study jointly conducted by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ministry of Health of Mexico, and the American Institute for Cancer Research, it’s the opposite: women with the highest consumption of carbohydrates, and, correspondingly, of fiber, had the highest rates of breast cancer:

Carbohydrates and the Risk of Breast Cancer among Mexican Women

“In this population, a high percentage of calories from carbohydrate, but not from fat, was associated with increased breast cancer risk.”

Isabelle Romieu, et al; Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; 2004 13: 1283–1289. [link]

Although this study has singled out carbohydrates as the culprit behind various cancers, where there’s smoke, there’s also fire: carbs and fiber are as inseparable as Siamese twins, as I have already explained in Myth #1.

Myth #7: Fiber lowers blood cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and prevents heart disease.

The myths about fiber’s role in coronary heart disease (CHD) and the management of elevated cholesterol have their roots in some dubious research, which culminated in “reduced mineral absorption and myriad of gastrointestinal disturbances” after the study participants were given supplements containing a mixture of guar gum, pectin, soy fiber, pea fiber, and corn bran along with a low-fat and reduced cholesterol diet.

The total reduction of LDL cholesterol after 15 weeks was from “7% to 8%”. As any cardiologist will tell you, the reduction of “bad” cholesterol from, let’s say, 180 to 166 mg/dL (-8%) is completely meaningless. Besides, if you cause someone to have a “myriad of gastrointestinal disturbances” in the process, that person is more likely to die prematurely from malnutrition and cancer than of stroke or heart attack.

Even then, this marginal reduction of cholesterol had little to do with fiber, and everything to do with the reduction of dietary fats. LDL cholesterol happens to be a major precursor to bile. The moment a person is placed on a low-fat diet, their cholesterol level drops because their liver no longer needs to produce as much bile.

In addition, intestinal inflammation caused by soluble fiber blocks the ability of bile components to get absorbed back into the bloodstream, further lowering the cholesterol level. This is as basic as the physiology of nutrition gets, and it makes the whole claim of a fiber-cholesterol connection a deliberate con.

There is another dimension to the con used to “prove” fiber‘s role in reducing cholesterol. Most of the studies on fiber’s cholesterol-lowering effect—particularly psyllium—used The American Heart Association’s (AHA) Step 1 diet.

The Step 1 diet is high in carbohydrates and low in fat by design, with less than 10% of total energy derived from saturated fat. During clinical studies among people using the Step 1 diet without added fiber, their total cholesterol fell by 8%, LDL cholesterol fell by 6%, and HDL cholesterol fell by 16%.

In other words, the Step 1 diet on its own, without any extra fiber and/or digestive side effects, demonstrates an almost identical drop in cholesterol as with added fiber. In legalese, this particular “coincidence” is called fraud, plain and simple.

So one fraud more, one fraud less…what‘s the worry, if my cholesterol goes down?

Well, there is a legitimate worry, at least, according to this respected source:

Problem with American Heart Association “Step 1? diet

“Although the AHA Step 1 diet decreased total and LDL cholesterol levels in this group of women, it decreased HDL cholesterol by an even greater proportion. In women, a low HDL cholesterol concentration is a stronger independent predictor of cardiovascular disease risk than is elevated total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol. Therefore, women who follow AHA guidelines for lowering their serum cholesterol may actually be increasing their risk of heart disease”

Alan R. Gaby, M.D. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients [link]

Amazingly, back in 2001, the AHA replaced the Step 1 diet with the Step II, TLC, and ATP III diets [link], which are even more restrictive in terms of fat, and even more permissive in terms of carbohydrates.

And don’t get me started on triglycerides… First, nothing raises triglycerides as profoundly as a high-fiber diet does, because, paraphrasing the smoke-fire cliché, where there’s fiber, there’re carbohydrates, usually eight to ten times as much.

This fact—the more fiber you consume, particularly from natural sources, the higher your level of triglycerides from carbohydrates intake—has been dodging Dr. Dean Ornish [link] one of the most prominent proponents of a high-carb/high-fiber diet.

Second, once inside the colon, fiber itself gets fermented by intestinal bacteria. Among the byproducts of bacterial fermentation are short-chain fatty acids—butyrate, acetate, and propionate. Most of these fatty acids get assimilated directly into the bloodstream to provide energy.

According to the Dietary Reference Intakes manual “current data indicate that the [energy] yield is in the range of 1.5 to 2.5” calories per each gram of consumed fiber [link]. If you aren’t starving, the absorbed fatty acids unused for energy get metabolized by the liver into triglycerides for further storage as body fat.

Granted, a few calories here, a few calories there, may not seem like a lot. Still, if you are consuming 30 to 40 grams of fiber daily plus whatever “hidden” carbohydrates you are ingesting unknowingly along with processed food, it all adds up to epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Myth #8: Fiber satisfies hunger and reduces appetite.

Reality: When the scientists from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University decided to look at this dubious claim, here is what they have found out:

Fermentable and Nonfermentable Fiber Supplements Did Not Alter Hunger, Satiety or Body Weight in a Pilot Study of Men and Women Consuming Self-Selected Diets

“Despite the large total intakes of FF [fermentable fiber – ed.] and NFF [non-fermetable fiber – ed.] supplements, there were no significant changes in body weight or fat during consumption of either type of fiber, even among the subjects with higher BMI.”

The Journal of Nutrition [link]

And as you keep digging deeper, you soon realize that consuming too much fiber may actually contribute to obesity. Because fiber rapidly absorbs water and expands in the stomach up to five times its original size and weight, it indeed pacifies the appetite for a short while.

Unfortunately, while faking satiety, expanded fiber also stretches out the stomach‘s chamber, and each new fill-up requires progressively more and more fiber to accomplish the same trick. Lo and behold, in order to reduce its capacity and “speed up” satiety, surgeons suture the stretched-out stomachs of obese individuals or squeeze them with a bridle (LAP-BAND©). A complete opposite of what fiber does.

Myth #9: Fiber prevents gallstones and kidney stones.

Reality: I‘ve seen several observational studies that claim fiber can prevent gallstones. It isn‘t true. It‘s common knowledge that diabetes and obesity are consistently associated with higher risk for gallstones, and both of these conditions are the direct outcome of excessive consumption of carbohydrates, and correspondingly, of fiber. Beyond these few studies, there isn‘t a shred of physiological, anatomical, clinical, or nutritional evidence that connects gallstone formation with fiber consumption.

Here‘s an excerpt from Fiber Menace that sheds further light on the gallstone-fiber connection:

Fiber’s affect on the small intestine: Not welcome at any price

Gallstones are formed from concentrated bile salts when the outflow of bile from the gallbladder is blocked. […] before they can form, something else must first obstruct the biliary ducts. Just like with pancreatitis, that “something” is either inflammatory disease or obstruction caused by fiber.

Women (in the West) are affected by gallstones far more than men, because they are more likely to maintain a “healthy” diet, which nowadays means a diet that is low in fat and high in fiber. Since the gallbladder concentrates bile pending a fatty meal, no fat in the meal means no release of bile. The longer the concentrated bile remains in the gallbladder, the higher the chance for gallstones to form (from bile salts).

Fiber Menace, page 25 [link]

Just as with gallstones, kidney stones are also common among people who suffer from diabetes and obesity, because excessive consumption of carbohydrates increases the excretion of urine, changes its chemistry, and predisposes to kidney stones.

To investigate this myth further, I consulted PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine, which is the most thorough compendium of medical research. I reviewed eighty-one articles published between 1972 and 2005 (the year I was researching my book) that mention the words “fiber” and “kidney stones”. Not a single one of them connected kidney stones to fiber consumption, while several specifically pointed out that an increased consumption of carbohydrates is one of the major contributing factors.

One article suggested that a diet free of digestible carbs, but containing fiber, makes urine composition less stones-prone. You don‘t have to be Dr. Watson to deduce that fiber—an indigestible substance—can‘t materially affect urine chemistry, because what can‘t get digested also can‘t reach the kidneys. Besides, it wasn’t the presence of fiber that did the “trick,” for those investigators, but the reduction in digestible carbohydrates.

Myth #10: Fiber prevents diverticular disease.

For a while, it was difficult to disprove this absurdity by appealing to common sense. So I devoted a whole chapter in Fiber Menace to explaining why fiber CAUSES diverticular disease. Thank God, I am no longer alone in this thinking:

Fiber Not Protective Against Diverticulosis

Contrary to popular medical wisdom, following a high-fiber diet has no protective effect against developing asymptomatic diverticulosis, according to a colonoscopy-based study presented at the 2011 Digestive Disease Week (DDW) meeting (abstract 275). In fact, the study showed that patients who ate more fiber actually had higher prevalence of the disease.

Gastroenterology and Endoscopy News, July 2011, Volume: 62:07 [link]

Fiber May Not Prevent Diverticular Disease

For decades, doctors have recommended high-fiber diets to patients at risk for developing the intestinal pouches, known as diverticula. The thinking has been that by keeping patients regular, a high-fiber diet can keep diverticula from forming. But the new study suggests the opposite may be true.

WebMD, January 23, 2012 [link]

A High-Fiber Diet Does Not Protect Against Asymptomatic Diverticulosis

A high-fiber diet and increased frequency of bowel movements are associated with greater, rather than lower, prevalence of diverticulosis. Hypotheses regarding risk factors for asymptomatic diverticulosis should be reconsidered.

Gastroenterology; Volume 142, Issue 2, Pages 266-272.e1, Feb. 2012 [link]

The only problem with all of the above research is that it may take another six to eight years to tell people what I was telling them eight years ago: if you wish to protect your gut from diverticular disease, keep fiber out of it.

Myth #11: Fiber is safe and effective for the treatment and prevention of diarrhea.

Reality: Actually, it’s the complete opposite—fiber, particularly soluble, is the most common cause of diarrhea in children and adults. That’s why it’s recommended as a laxative to begin with. The idea of fiber as a preventive treatment for diarrhea is one of the most preposterous and harmful fiber-related frauds.

Soluble fiber is widely present in fruits, vegetables, laxatives, and processed foods, such as yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese, soy milk, non-dairy creamers, preserves, jellies, candies, cakes, snack bars, canned soups, frozen dinners, sauces, dressings, and endless others.

It’s always expertly concealed from scrutiny behind obscure names such as agar-agar, algae, alginate, ?-glucan, cellulose gum, carrageen, fructooligosaccharides, guaran, guar gum, hemicellulose, Irish moss, kelp, lignin, mucilage, pectin, oligofructose, polydextrose, polylos, resistant dextrin, resistant starch, red algae, and others.

These inexpensive industrial fillers are added as stabilizers and volumizers to practically all processed foods, because they hold water, maintain shape, and fake “fattiness.” Besides, they are cheaply bought by the ton, and are resold retail by the gram for immense profit.

Once inside the body, these fiber fillers remain indigestible, hold onto water just as tight, and prevent absorption. This property—the malabsorption of fluids—lies behind soluble fiber‘s laxative effect: under normal circumstances a very limited amount of fluids enter the large intestine. When their amount exceeds the colon’s holding capacity, you get hit with diarrhea.

In other words, the term “laxative” is just a euphemism for a “diarrheal” agent. If you overdose on a fiber laxative, you’ll end up with diarrhea. If you “overdose” on fiber from food, you’ll end up with exactly the same diarrhea. But since fiber in food can’t be measured as reliably as fiber in capsules, wafers, or powders, it’s much easier to “overdose” the latter fiber and cause severe diarrhea.

Besides, fiber is even more offensive than synthetic laxatives, because the byproducts of its fermentation cause intestinal inflammation, flatulence, bloating, and cramping—just as described in medical references:

Malabsorption Syndromes

Colonic bacteria ferment unabsorbed carbohydrates into CO2, methane, H2, and short-chain fatty acids (butyrate, propionate, acetate, and lactate). These fatty acids cause diarrhea. The gases cause abdominal distention and bloating.

Gastrointestinal Disorders; The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy [link]

The diarrheal effect of soluble fiber is particularly harmful for children, because their smaller intestines need lesser amounts to provoke diarrhea. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

The Management of Acute Diarrhea in Children

…diarrhea remains one of the most common pediatric illnesses. Each year, children less than 5 years of age experience 20-35 million episodes of diarrhea, which result in 2-3.5 million doctor visits, greater than 200,000 hospitalizations, and 325-425 deaths.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [link]

These figures are from 1992, the latest statistic I could find. It must be much worse today because fiber is so much more prevalent. And if you analyze the most basic facts, you’ll understand immediately why this travesty is taking place. Consider this:

A single adult dose of Metamucil®—a popular fiber laxative made from psyllium seed husks—contains 2 g of soluble fiber in 6 capsules [link]. One apple, one orange, and one banana—not an unusual number of fruits a child may eat throughout the day—contain a total 4 g of soluble fiber, or an equivalent of 12 capsules of Metamucil for a much larger adult.

And that’s on top of all the juices, cereals, yogurts, ice creams, candies, cakes, and all other processed food consumed on the same day, all loaded with fiber as well. No wonder that “diarrhea remains one of the most common pediatric illnesses” in the United States, and there is an acute shortage of pediatricians nationwide.

Myth #12: Fiber relieves chronic constipation.

I left this myth for last because it is the most pervasive. For the same false reasons that people believe in the cleansing prowess of fiber, everyone and their uncle also believes that fiber relieves constipation.

Not quite true. According to the experts from the American College of Gastroenterology’s Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders Task Force, all legitimate clinical trials “…did not demonstrate a significant improvement in stool frequency or consistency when compared with placebo.” [link]

In plain English, it means fiber is no better at relieving constipation than a sugar pill. Indeed, how could it be, when fiber causes constipation in the first place! Again, I describe the exact reasons behind the fiber-constipation connection in Fiber Menace.

Even The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, the very first book your doctor consults when needing up-to-date medical advice, has recently changed their tune regarding fiber, clearly the outcome of my work.

“Fiber supplementation is particularly effective in treating normal-transit constipation but is not very effective for slow-transit constipation or defecatory disorders” [link]

In plain English, it means the following: “Fiber supplements will catapult healthy people into a loo because of their laxative effect. But for anyone with a history of chronic constipation, they don’t work.”

Finally, consider the stern warnings, that accompany Metamucil, a fiber supplement made from psyllium:

Metamucil Warning

So not only do fiber supplements not work for most people with chronic constipation, but they may also make them ill. Probably not ill enough to kill their libido as Dr. Kellogg originally intended, but imagine enjoying sex with your partner while being bloated and flatulent courtesy of extra fiber in your morning cereals.

That doesn’t describe a health food, does it?

Learn More About Fiber Menace at GutSense.org

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297 Comments on "Dietary Fiber Is Bad for Sex – That’s the Only Claim About It That Isn’t a Myth"

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Nida
Nida
3 years 3 months ago

What about vegetables? You only looked at fiber being added to a diet via fruits, but in reality, vegetables are a lot healthier.

Toad
3 years 3 months ago

I was also wondering why he decided to use fruit instead of veggies. Veggies have a lot more fiber unless you are talking about avocados which are a fruit.

michael
michael
3 years 3 months ago

Aside from melons, fruits have more fiber than vegetables. and by veggie, i’m not talking legumes which trump both fruits & veggies. and yes the avocado fruit is high in fiber.

Gio
Gio
3 years 2 months ago
One regular sized Hass (Mexican/California) avocado has about 9 grams of fiber. Most of it is Soluble fiber and lesser amounts of the roughage insoluble fiber. Whole Grains are extremely high in intestine scraping insoluble fiber. Large amounts of Insoluble fiber causes intestinal cramps, bloating, pain and abdominal heaviness. It strecthes out the stomach and makes you look 9 months pregnant. I think a little fiber depending on the size of your abdomen should determine how much you need on a daily basis. Another thing folks. You DO NOT need to have a bowel movement every single day. Although it’s… Read more »
Harry Mossman
3 years 3 months ago

He is not saying to avoid fruits and vegetables, just don’t binge on them for various bogus CW reasons.

“Please do note that if you are healthy, active, and normal weight, there is nothing wrong with consuming fruits and vegetables in moderation. The point of this section is to impress on you that it is NOT OK to binge on fruits to ingest recommended daily intake of fiber.”

Bjjcaveman
3 years 3 months ago

Agree. Would have been more clear if he had addressed veggies. I feel that with the amount of veggies I consume while eating paleo or primal, the total fiber does approach 25-30 gm…

paleo-leo
3 years 2 months ago

I doubt that… You may think that celery is high in fiber, right? Well one large stalk of celery has 1gm of fiber, so you would need to eat 30-40 large stalks of celery each day to reach that amount. And each large stalk has 1.17gm of sugar, so you would get 36-48gm of sugar. This is according to the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
Release 26.

http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2962?fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=&qlookup=celery

You must eat a huge amount of veggies…

Harriet
Harriet
3 years 3 months ago

I agree. That was his weakest argument because he used ten servings of fruit, which no one recommends. Ten leafy green vegetables would have proved this “myth” true.

Christin
Christin
3 years 3 months ago

I had the same thought… However he did address this by saying:

“The ratio of digestible carbohydrates (sugars) to fiber in vegetables, cereals, breads, beans, and legumes is, on average, similar to fruits. Thus, no matter how hard you try to mix’n’match, you’ll be getting harmed all the same.”

Not sure the truth in that statement. Just thought I would point out that he did address this.

Paleo-curious
3 years 3 months ago

“On average” maybe, but that is misleading– average greens with bread & beans & you remove some very crucial distinctions!

Amy
Amy
3 years 3 months ago

It is a weak argument. On the other hand CW advises several servings of fruits and vegetables like they are interchangeable.

einstein
einstein
3 years 3 months ago

And where is the differentiation between soluble and insoluble fiber? Soluble fiber is converted into medium chain triglycerides by gut bacteria which in turn reduces inflammation in the body once absorbed through the gut. Anyway, who in their right mind would binge on fruits for the sake of fiber? Just the amount of fructose would scare me away. The author is trying to kick a door open which is barely hanging on it’s hinges anyway.

Brad
Brad
3 years 3 months ago
Exactly! Not only does he not differentiate between soluble and insoluble fiber or talk about the very different effect they have, he doesn’t mention “resistant starch” at all other than in one spot where it is mentioned as an industrial “filler” instead of a 3rd type of fiber, which it is… a prebiotic that feeds your gut bacteria just like soluble fiber. He talks about short-chain fatty acids, like butyrate as if it’s a bad thing but doesn’t mention it’s healthy effects, particularly for intestinal health and reducing the chance of colon cancer. In short, I think this article is… Read more »
Ray
Ray
3 years 3 months ago

This article is anything but junk. Fiber is very very overrated. I have been going to the bathroom less and less since eating a low fiber diet and feel better overall.

Joshua
Joshua
3 years 3 months ago

he did address veggies. He said they have a similar ratio of fiber to sugar. Is he correct? Maybe not.

Tom T.
3 years 3 months ago

Wow this has sparked great discussion. This post about fiber is contrary to conventional wisdom and I believe some studies. I don’t think that there is enough here to give a definitive answer to fiber being bad or good. It seems to raise questions which I think may be the point.

Konstantin Monastyrsky
3 years 3 months ago

Nida,

…because most people prefer to consume fruits for taste, flavor, etc… To some extent, fiber-rich vegetables are even more harmful than fruits because, in addition to a similar sugar content, they may contain more fiber, particularly a soluble kind, which may be even more damaging for children and older adults because its ill effects starts showing themselves in the small intestine.

Tim
Tim
3 years 3 months ago
Konstantin – I think the biggest issue is that you lump all fiber together which kind of negates the theory that gut microbes are beneficial and require prebiotics to feed them. Prebiotics are all fiber, they don’t get digested in the gut. The terms soluble and insoluble only refer to a fiber’s relationship with water, not whether it’s fermentable by gut microbes. Resistant Starch is non-soluble, yet fermentable, and a prebiotic. Sugar Alcohols are soluble fiber yet are not considered prebiotic in that they are favored by non-beneficial bacteria. You are using CW from the 70’s to make an argument… Read more »
Konstantin Monastyrsky
3 years 3 months ago

I am sorry for creating a wrong impression, but I don’t lump all sorts of fiber together. This post was about a completely different subject. I do discuss these differences at length in my book as well as on my site.

Tim
Tim
3 years 3 months ago
One of the core tenets of Primal Blueprint is that our guts host a wide variety of microbes, some harmful some beneficial. With proper feeding (prebiotics) the good will outnumber the bad and great health will result. That you say beneficial microbes simply feed off of the colonic mucous membrane, and no thought needs to be given to support a healthy gut flora, shows me that you have not kept up with current research in gut microflora. I agree that adding ‘fiber’ is a futile effort, but focusing your eating in a way to get added prebiotics is paramount to… Read more »
Matt
3 years 3 months ago
I’m with you there. I for one think this author’s post is quite weak. It’s also kind of easy to find one research article on any topic that contradicts the medical train of thought (not that there’s anything wrong with going against the grain). However, the intake for fiber being around 40g is a little high anyway and most people are probably fine with around 20-25g of fiber intake. Also, why just fruits? Throw in some kale and you’ll get some great fiber AND antioxidants. There’s also some pretty good research out there showing fiber DOES decrease hunger and help… Read more »
Brendan Coburn
3 years 3 months ago

Fantastic. Just fantastic. Thank you for spreading the info!!

Brendan Coburn
3 years 3 months ago

Except for this… “a moderately active adult can utilize no more than about 200 grams of carbohydrates per day without encountering a scourge of the inevitable obesity, prediabetes, or diabetes.”

That is just blatantly false.

Toad
3 years 3 months ago

Yes. Beyond false. Perhaps we should call it the Carbohydrate Paradox for those that consume 200, even 300+ grams of carbs a day yet never become obese or come near to the point of pre-diabetes.

Toad
3 years 3 months ago

Including those that don’t workout much. Maybe walk a fair amount, move throughout the day and engage in some strength twice a week. There are millions of us in the world.

Christine H.
Christine H.
3 years 3 months ago

Do you also reject MDA’s generalized and simplified carb curve?

Toad
3 years 3 months ago

“Reject” is not the right word. I do think it’s oversimplified and while it may work for some folks, it’s not going to work for others. Adding carbs may help you lose weight.

Also, I dare someone to get fat on plain white potatoes. Or plain table sugar with absolutely nothing else.

Cloudy
Cloudy
3 years 3 months ago

Who eats a single ingredient diet?

Toad
3 years 3 months ago

Cloudy – Nobody does. We used to think fat was evil. Now we don’t. Now we think sugar is evil. Yet it’s not. Not by a long shot.

Tim
Tim
3 years 3 months ago

I agree, Brendan. I often eat more than 200 grams of carbs in a day. Yesterday, I ate 280 grams of carbs.! Those carbs came from plantain chips (114 g), hummus (80 g) and rice crackers (87 g). Rarely do I eat less than 100 grams of carbs in a day. And I’m very slim. I recently had my fasting blood sugar checked. It was 81.

George
3 years 2 months ago

The key whether one fattens on high-carb diets (hormones aside) seems to be linoleic acid.
Is omega 6 fattening on high-carb, but slimming on low carb/high protein?

http://hopefulgeranium.blogspot.co.nz/2013/09/the-elegant-solution.html

Mark P
3 years 3 months ago
Agreed. As much as we hate to admit it, look at some vegans for pete’s sake! That guy DurianRiders (as much as I loathe him) is one skinny dude and does marathons, and eats 30 bananas a day – that’s 800+ grams of digestible carbs, with most of it being pure sugar. I regularly get 200 grams or more of carbs a day now. My health seems just fine. That one blogger Danny Roddy is a huge proponent of sugar, after being vegan for a year, then VLC paleo for two years. I think the overly-generalized gist of his message… Read more »
Toad
3 years 3 months ago

I have as well. Thanks to Matt Stone and others like Danny Roddy and Ray Peat. And Emily from ButterBeliever.com. And a bunch of other folks I trust.

Mark P
3 years 3 months ago

Oh, thank you for the author writers. I’ll check them out. Ray Peat’s stuff is really interesting.

Nocona
Nocona
3 years 3 months ago

Danny Roddy? He doesn’t think Ketosis has any benefits. How bout people with Grand Mal siezures having them go away completely on Ketosis? It has been in the medical journals for a long time. The guy talks in riddles wrapped up in smoke and mirrors. I’ll check out Emily and Mr. Ray Peat and see what they are up to…

MC
MC
3 years 3 months ago

“And Emily from ButterBeliever.com. And a bunch of other folks I trust.”

I once wrote a comment pointing out that the BP diet stated that women should consume a good deal of carbs at least twice a week. She didn’t let it go through because she just wanted to be right, regardless if she was wrong. I’m assuming she does that regularly.

“In the end, everything is bad because no matter what we do, we are going to die. So, my view is that nothing is inherently unhealthy.”

That’s literally one of the stupidest comments I’ve ever heard.

Mark P
3 years 3 months ago

@Nocona, he doesn’t deny the benefits of a ketogenic diet, but he also recognizes its negative effects.

marcus volke
marcus volke
2 years 11 months ago

I think you should amend that statement that sugar isn’t bad to carbohydrates aren’t bad. Clearly sugar can devastate your health, the main distinction being that sugar is 50% fructose while starch breaks down to 100% glucose. We have hundreds of studies clearly demonstrating the dangers of fructose, if you doubt that then you have some serious reading to do.

Erin
Erin
3 years 3 months ago

You should really read some of the hypotheses of Dr. Otto Warburg, if you haven’t already. He won the nobel prize in the 30’s for his research on cancer cell physiology…. basically that sugar feeds cancer cells.

Nocona
Nocona
3 years 3 months ago

And of course, carbs are sugar.

Toad
3 years 3 months ago
In the end, everything is bad because no matter what we do, we are going to die. So, my view is that nothing is inherently unhealthy. If you sit on your ass all day and barely move, then the sugar you consume is not being used so perhaps it will feed cancer cells. However, if you are standing all day, walking a lot, engaging in various movements, just simply active, then the sugar you consume is being put to use. It’s being used as energy and is getting stored in your muscles and other places. Sugar is good. Too much… Read more »
Nocona
Nocona
3 years 3 months ago

OK Toad, we are all gonna die. So you can die being a balanced sugar/carb addicted person.

Mark P
3 years 3 months ago
Well, as a fan of Danny Roddy’s blog, let me give you my response, which are quotes from him. “Otto Warburg found that the defining feature of cancer was the production of lactic acid in the presence of oxygen (aerobic glycolysis). Warburg believed that cancer cells had a “respiratory defect,” or some kind of injury to the mitochondria that caused them to use up very large quantities of glucose by fermentation, even though oxygen was present. Therefore cancer cells demonstrate a failure of the pasteur effect, which is the normal response of cells to restrain glycolysis in the presence of… Read more »
Nocona
Nocona
3 years 2 months ago
Mark P, thanks for the info. Looking at your photo, it appears you are pretty young. I’ll say this again…guys like Mark S., myself and thousands of other athletes who were thin and are now older (50’s-60’s), totally burned out our systems by living on carbs for fuel. We feel 100’s of times better now burning fat for fuel. Look at all the Friday Success stories too. It is a scientific fact you would die very quickly without fat or protein. You can live a long and healthy life without carbs and there are no needs for carb at all… Read more »
Nocona
Nocona
3 years 2 months ago

Also Mark P. Go live with the Inuit from 100 years ago up in Alaska and then tell me how much you need carbs.

Jenny
Jenny
3 years 2 months ago

Wow, 30 bananas a day? That’s pretty impressive.

oxide
oxide
3 years 3 months ago

Could we keep the carb wars off the front page please?

Konstantin Monastyrsky
3 years 3 months ago

This statement isn’t related to how much “a moderately active adult” can eat (intake), but to how much the body can utilize without dispatching excess calories into fat stores. If you care to learn more about this subject, here is the link: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/DRI//DRI_Energy/265-338.pdf

Antoinette
Antoinette
3 years 3 months ago

As a recently diagnosed T2D, I found this statement suspect as well :/

Hilda
Hilda
3 years 3 months ago

This article should be on the front page of every magazine/newspaper!

Kate
Kate
3 years 3 months ago
Why for Myth 1, does the writer state that fiber should be obtained from ‘fresh fruits and vegetables’ – and then debunk that using nothing but fruit as an example, as if vegetables don’t count and people would need to gorge on fruit all day to get ‘enough’ fiber? Plenty of vegetables are high in fiber and low in carbs (if that’s what you’re going for anyway). Also, hunter-gatherer diets are generally considered to be very high in fiber – up to 100 grams per day (http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v51/n4/pdf/1600389a.pdf) which is a lot more than most people consume. While I think some… Read more »
Goran
Goran
3 years 3 months ago

Does fibre cause diarrhoea or constipation? Which one?

Keerthy
Keerthy
3 years 3 months ago

Exactly, would you clarify that please, Konstantin?

First you said –
“fiber, particularly soluble, is the most common cause of diarrhea in children and adults. That’s why it’s recommended as a laxative to begin with.”

Then later –
” it means fiber is no better at relieving constipation than a sugar pill. Indeed, how could it be, when fiber causes constipation in the first place”

Fiber is both laxative and a cause for constipation? Is it like soluble fibres are laxatives and insolube ones are constipators?

Jay
Jay
3 years 3 months ago

Can you guys not read? Read it again! He explains the difference.

Konstantin Monastyrsky
3 years 3 months ago

>> Exactly, would you clarify that please, Konstantin?

I cover this subject in depth on my site. I didn’t address it here simply because I had to stay on topic…

Harry Mossman
3 years 3 months ago

My non-primal friend just had a lumpectomy. Despite my giving her info I got from cancer survivors here, she read the cw nonsense about cancer and now eats a lot more fiber, fruit, other carbs, and therefore sugar. I’ll pass this great blog along to her but I’m not holding my breath.

Shary
Shary
3 years 3 months ago
I’ve found that two teaspoons of plain old whole psyllium husk stirred into a glass of water–not Metamucil–works well for IBS, so Myth #11 isn’t always a myth. This was recommended to me by a naturopathic doctor to use on an as-needed basis. I do not experience any of the side effects associated with commercial products like Metamucil. Eliminating most grains from my diet, particularly wheat products, helped considerably, but sometimes something (possibly certain foods, maybe stress) still sets off an episode of loose bowels. I normally eat a lot of veggies and a modest amount of fruit, but it… Read more »
Yolanda
Yolanda
3 years 3 months ago

Thank you for this information. I am having a terrible time with IBS – diarrhea and haven’t found anything that helps. I will try the psyllium husk and probiotics. What kind of probiotics do you use?

einstein
einstein
3 years 3 months ago

I used to have IBS too. Dairy was the culprit. Try to skip dairy for a month and see if it helps.

kate
3 years 3 months ago

I have found probiotics to be helpful with IBS too and the only kind that work for me are the kind found in the refrigerated section of the market (I buy mine at Whole Foods). I think I’ll give psyllium husk a shot though.

Janice
Janice
3 years 3 months ago
I’ve had IBS since birth, but since switching to a paleo style diet a couple of years ago have found it’s about 85-90% improved. I definitely recommend checking out the GAPS diet as well. Bone broth does amazing things to help IBS. Further, most people with IBS need to completely avoid psyllium fiber. It’s a horrible irritant! Better to cut out sugar, grains and dairy, and increase your fat intake. Fermented veggies are great for the gut as well. As for this article, I have to agree with the other commenters that it’s got a ton of problems. Vegetable fiber… Read more »
Shary
Shary
3 years 3 months ago

“…most people with IBS need to avoid psyllium fiber. It’s a horrible irritant…”

No they don’t, and no it isn’t. It depends largely on the person since everyone is different. I would not recommend commercial products such as Metamucil since they usually contain additives and other ingredients.

Tasha
3 years 3 months ago

I think it definitely depends on your individual case of IBS. Psyllium powder (which Mark Sisson recommends over whole husks) can work very well because it’s a PREbiotic, giving your gut bacteria something to eat & thrive on. Probiotics alone are not always enough, but it really depends on the state of your gut in the first place.

lucy
lucy
3 years 3 months ago

What do you guys think about healing laxative abuse through fibre? Four years of anorexia (down to a BMI of 10.75) followed by 6 years of bulimia (laxative abuse) has rendered my gut pretty much destroyed. Making a conscious (REALLY conscious) effort to heal naturally using supps like Aloe vera and therapies like colonics and massage over the past year has definitely helped a little, but most resources I consult (doctors included) suggest fibre supplements.
And now, I am royally confused. Would love some input.

Shary
Shary
3 years 3 months ago
Yolanda, right now I’m using Prodophilus probiotics by Progena. It’s a powder that you stir into water. VSL#3 probiotics probably work better but are more expensive. It comes as either a capsule or a sachet. Both types MUST be kept refrigerated. I think both of these are available from Amazon but not sure. Some drugstores carry VSL#3. Check their website. Whole Psyllium husks are inexpensive and are available at most health food stores. Don’t buy the powdered kind. It doesn’t dissolve worth a darn. The whiole psyllium husks stir easily into a glass of water. Follow the directions and drink… Read more »
Konstantin Monastyrsky
3 years 3 months ago
> I am having a terrible time with IBS – diarrhea and haven’t found anything > that helps. I will try the psyllium husk and probiotics. What kind of probiotics > do you use? While you are having diarrhea, probiotics are pointless because they will not stick inside the large intestine, and if they do — they’ll only make it worth. Same with fiber. And what you have isn’t IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), but IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). You can only stop diarrhea for good by eliminating inflammation by using what I call “elementary diet.” I discuss this subject at… Read more »
Jennifer
Jennifer
3 years 3 months ago

Try a low FODMAP diet

Harriet Sugar Miller
2 years 11 months ago

This study showed butyrate supplements helped with IBS-diarrhea problems. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1594580408600066

Butyrate is the short chain fatty acid produced in the gut by friendly bacteria (from probiotics, for example) acting on fermentable fiber.

Perhaps the author of this controversial piece could distinguish between fermentable and non-fermentable fiber.

marcus volke
marcus volke
2 years 11 months ago

the studies show that supplemental fiber is no more effective than a palcebo.

KTH
KTH
3 years 3 months ago

Wow. A little side of freak with those Corn Flakes?

Groktimus Primal
3 years 3 months ago
While I don’t think fiber is of great value I do think it has a purpose if for no other reason than we evolved eating more of it in the tougher fruits in vegetables that had not been bred yet into the sweet perfect orbs of today. I believe there is some value in the intestinal bulk and easing of sugar rushes and containment of nutrients. That’s a major reason that those with teeth should avoid juicing. Naturally they want to sell you cellulose because it must be damn near free to produce and it can’t really hurt anyone when… Read more »
Martha
Martha
3 years 3 months ago

OK, well, Mark, if that’s your mission — I didn’t realize that was your mission. But I don’t think this piece is up to the standard of the site generally. It reminds me of Gary Taubes’ followers arguing that exercise won’t help you lose weight and calories are irrelevant. You don’t need to just take the polar opposite of every mainstream opinion…

Anthony Gustin
3 years 3 months ago

Calories ARE irrelevant, it is basic science.

einstein
einstein
3 years 3 months ago

Formal exercise won’t help you loose weight. And isn’t necessary for good health either. It will make you strong, feeling good etc. but hungry too – you will compensate for the lost energy eating that many more calories, that’s a given.

Tom B-D
Tom B-D
3 years 3 months ago

Stick with the informal exercise: strolling, shrugs maybe? Of course nothing will help you “loose” weight…it’s “lose” Don’t loose your grip on grammar!

Keerthy
Keerthy
3 years 3 months ago

I hate the Grammar police!

The phonetics of English are so messed up that it is impossible to stick to grammar. The English grammar is almost like an irresponsible government – arbitrary rules and arbitrary exceptions to every rule.

With just 26 letters available to make all sounds and rules allowing people to pronounce ‘ghoti’ as ‘fish’, there is no way people can always be sure about their grammar. It is as if like, English Grammarians will never go without a job as long as Writing exists because it is impossible to codify all English grammar rules in a computer program 😉

Kathryn
Kathryn
3 years 3 months ago

That was not a grammar mistake. It was a spelling mistake, most likely a typological error. Grammar pertains to the structure of language.

Nocona
Nocona
3 years 3 months ago

Sorry Martha, try again. Put on your research cap…

Anthony Gustin
3 years 3 months ago

Myth #2 and #7 are the ones I encounter most on a daily basis. Thanks for those!

Jillian
Jillian
3 years 3 months ago

I really feel like this is a fairly imbalanced article, which is inconsistent with the usual MDA approach of considering both sides of the debate. It is unfortunate, because I really would like to have an article on this topic to send to a few ‘concerned’ family members who think I’m crazy for eating primal for the last three years.

Konstantin Monastyrsky
3 years 3 months ago

I am sorry that you feel that way. There is nothing positive about fiber that I can describe. The whole thing is a fraud. Besides, I don’t say anywhere — “don’t consume natural foods that may contain fiber.” My message is “don’t pig out on processed food fortified with bran” and don’t take fiber laxatives because they harm your digestive organs.

marcus volke
marcus volke
2 years 11 months ago

I think your article was fantastic with one exception – fermentable fiber which produces butyric acid does have some tremendous health benefits. There are studies showing that butyric acid put IBS and crohn’s patients in remission, and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/12769445/ oat bran was used in this study.

Nicholas
Nicholas
3 years 3 months ago

So are there any benefits to fiber at all?
I find it hard to believe that a “nutrient” as prevalent as fiber does nothing but harm our bodies. One would think mother nature is smarter than that.

einstein
einstein
3 years 3 months ago

Of course there is. See my note above.

Konstantin Monastyrsky
3 years 3 months ago

No benefits, zero, zilch… When consumed in excess (>10-15 g per day), fiber does nothing, but harm. The body can cope with minimal amounts of soluble fiber, it “ignores” insoluble, but if you consume either one in excess, you’ll eventually pay for it with chronic constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticular disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatiry bowel disease, and, if you aren’t lucky, with colon cancer/

Isaac
Isaac
3 years 18 days ago
Why not address those of us eating large amounts of cooked dark leafy greens and vegetables? I eat large amounts of cooked spinach, chard, cauliflower, etc… and these contain almost no carbs whatsoever, but are both extremely high in nutrition and fiber. I completely understand and agree with your thoughts about companies trying to push fiber on us through supplements, etc, but why do you not make a more concerted effort to distinguish between no/low-carb veggies (with high fiber) and high-carb/high fiber fluff? There is a 180 degree difference between the two, one being extremely beneficial and the other being,… Read more »
Paul
Paul
3 years 3 months ago

“Does dietary fiber contain anything of nutritional value? No, it doesn’t. Zero vitamins… Zero minerals… Zero protein… Zero fat…”

Except of course when your (healthy) gut bacteria metabolizes it into short chain fatty acids.

Alyssa
3 years 3 months ago

+100

I don’t agree with this article. Fiber is extremely important to gut health due to gut bacteria, and those short chain fatty acids are vital to the health and integrity of the gut lining. They aren’t just additional calories.

Tasha
3 years 3 months ago

I agree. I think the basic idea of ADDED fiber being unnecessary is correct, but this article goes way offtrack with the rest of the information.

einstein
einstein
3 years 3 months ago

Agree 100%

Jade
Jade
3 years 3 months ago
Love, love, love this article! I have found many of these things to be true through personal experience. I was diagnosed with IBS with constipation over 10 years ago and docs prescribed an increase in dietary fiber as well as laxatives and fiber based supplements. This made me feel sick with no relief from IBS. Veganism was my next desperate attempt which made me even sicker. It wasn’t until I found a paleo-based diet and cut out the absurd amount of fruit and veggies I was eating, did I start feeling better. Great article. Thanks for posting!!!
katieCHI
katieCHI
3 years 3 months ago

Urg…I’m following the Practical Paleo guide for IBS which says to focus on soluble rather than insoluble fiber (sweet potato/squash instead of kale/strawberries). So are both kinds not so good for digestive health and bacterial balance? Hopefully MDA follows up with some recommendations?

Tasha
3 years 3 months ago

Soluble fibers or resistant starches CAN be very beneficial for IBS ask it works to feed your gut bacteria appropriately. It might not work for you, but it’s absolutely worth a shot. For me, squash is fine, but starchy tubers are not. I have IBS-C/D (predominantly C).

Konstantin Monastyrsky
3 years 3 months ago

Well, actually soluble diet is one of the primary causes of IBS.

Zap
Zap
3 years 3 months ago

It’s naive to think fibers do nothing in the body, they’re important for healthy gut bacteria, in particular the water soluble fibers seem to be feeding bacteria in the gut that are important for our health. Look for instance at the Akkermansia string
if you’re interested.

Mary Mac
Mary Mac
3 years 3 months ago

This guy posts on The Healthy Home Economist’s blog occassionally, and I often wonder about his claims. I’m not saying that people need fiber from grains, but I don’t believe for a second that vegetable consumption for most needs to be moderated. I doubt that even people following a primal/paleo diet are eating vegetables in excess.

Doug
Doug
3 years 3 months ago

The author stated the daily recommendation for Fiber is 30 – 40 grams daily. The source of which could be fruits OR vegitables.

IF you choose to only use fruits to get that fiber, then he stated you would need all those fruites listed to get to 30-40 grams a day. He did not mention vegitables…I wish he had, but his point was that since fiber was useless, in his opinion, that consuming all those fruits in a day also led to the increase of 143 grams of sugar.

Mary Mac
Mary Mac
3 years 3 months ago

He listed the 30–40 gram recommendation as MYTH #1. He wasn’t agreeing with it.

Paula
3 years 3 months ago

Aside from the serious debates here, on the lighter side – “Dr.” Kellogg, ugh, who knew, you just can’t make this stuff up! Truth is stranger than fiction.

lynn
lynn
3 years 3 months ago

Honestly! I feel like the first part of this needs to go on “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”.

einstein
einstein
3 years 3 months ago

the first part was actually true. the guy was a real freak.

lynn
lynn
3 years 3 months ago

It seems like the craziest, most unlikely stories are always the true ones on that show!

Trixie
Trixie
3 years 3 months ago

There is the funniest series on Comedy Central called Drunk History- they did The Kellogg’s a week or so ago. A total scream!

Ruth
Ruth
3 years 3 months ago

Absolutely! One of their best ones! (along with the Lewis and lark expedition.)

nene
nene
3 years 3 months ago

Ok, I am pregnant (first trimester) and one of the awesome side effects of pregnancy (besides nausea and vomiting) is slowed digestion and constipation. If the answer ain’t fiber, then what is it? Because I can barely stand to eat anything that’s not beige (potatoes, nut butters, and sadly bread) much less be primal, so I am perplexed as to what to do. I have started adding some benefiber to my water in hopes it would help. If not that, then what?

Fixer
3 years 3 months ago

Magnesium Citrate

Tasha
3 years 3 months ago

I second this. Magnesium citrate, at mealtimes or at bedtime. Start at 200 mg and add as needed.

einstein
einstein
3 years 3 months ago

fermented foods and dairy, fruits and veggies in moderation. meat and eggs. pls pls skip the nut butters and bread. go check out chris kresser’s healthy baby code.

Nene
Nene
3 years 3 months ago

Einstein. I’m guessing you’re a dude who’s never been pregnant? I dare you to put a fermented anything in front of a 10 weeks pregnant lady and get away without being covered in vomit. Thanks. I’m aware of Chris Kresser. He’s never been pregnant either, far as I know.

Shauna
Shauna
3 years 2 months ago
As a woman who’s been pregnant, try pickles. I know it sounds cliche, but the vinegar might help settle your stomach, and it’s probably easier to swallow than straight vinegar water (plus, you get some nutrients from the pickles). Also, not all fermented foods are things like sauerkraut. Wikipedia has a big list of fermented foods ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fermented_foods ), and if you look through it, you’ll find a number of foods that you could easily forget are fermented, such as creme fraiche (a type of sour cream) and sour cream, kefir and yogurt, and tempeh and miso. You might be… Read more »
Kari
Kari
3 years 3 months ago
I am now in my last month of my second pregnancy. Before conception I was consuming 3-5cups of greens/day plus many other veggies and fruits and meat and a little dairy (mostly raw cheeses). As soon as I became preg I had a strong aversion to most of the foods I’d lived on and found it perplexing and difficult that all the good stuff made me sick. Finally I cut myself some slack and can really relate to only wanting starches and nut butters. I found when I started allowing myself to have a bit of starch I could tolerate… Read more »
Mark P
3 years 3 months ago

What kind of fruit did you eat, alongside the starches?

Maybe your body was craving some glucose sans-excessive-fiber???

Paleo-curious
3 years 3 months ago

When I was pregnant (with twins) I couldn’t keep anything down for the first four months. Eventually I got over the nausea & became very hungry, but the only true craving I ever had was for oranges. Seriously, once I could eat I couldn’t get enough of them! I’m surprised the boys didn’t come out orange! I have no idea if this had anything to do with fiber.

Nene
Nene
3 years 3 months ago

Thank you!

Brad
Brad
3 years 3 months ago
Nothing wrong with cooking your greens and other veggies, especially if it gets you to eat more of them. I read somewhere that a *reasonable* amount of cooking (ie, not frying/over-heating or cooking for lengthy periods where you will be oxidizing the food) will only reduce some of the nutrients, by about 20%. At the same time what you are doing is a bit of pre-digesting with the cooking so the remaining 80% are more easily digested and bio-available. Fermenting of course is better if you can handle that but steaming or slow cooking, say in a stew, is not… Read more »
Laura
Laura
3 years 3 months ago

during my first pregnancy (i was gluten free but not primal) i took hemp protein – the one that had the most fiber. it can be found at a natural food store. it tasted like eating earth, but worked miracles on the constipation.

after my first trimester of my second pregnancy (after the nausea passed ) i was mostly primal and didn’t have any problems with constipation.

Nene
Nene
3 years 3 months ago

Thanks for the suggestion.

Anna
Anna
3 years 3 months ago

Fat.

Wenchypoo
Wenchypoo
3 years 3 months ago

“Colonic Motility: Energy-rich meals with a high fat content increase motility [the rate of intestinal propulsion]; carbohydrates and proteins have no effect.”

This must be why all-carnivorous diet eaters don’t have to worry about getting ANY fiber at all! It’s the FAT and not fiber that keeps them from getting constipated.

I guess we really DON’T need vegetation after all, as long as our meat’s grass-fed…am I right here? Is the vegetation really only for variety?

einstein
einstein
3 years 3 months ago

if you eat all grassfed then yes.

Amy
Amy
3 years 3 months ago

The Intuit would have been up a creek if vegetation weren’t optional. The premier (non-allergic) infant food after breastmilk is meat based formula. We are closer to pure carnivores than our Mothers might be comfortable with, but there it is. I think we are lucky that we can eat vegetable matter and extract both calories and nutrients from it, but a sub-optimal food source, in my mind at least.

Erok
Erok
3 years 3 months ago

AND eat all of the animal.

Amy
Amy
3 years 3 months ago

That too. 🙂

blogblog
blogblog
2 years 11 months ago

Plants provide many nutrients that are not readily available from meat especially potassium and magnesium.

Carnivores have a totally different gut physiology and a totally different gut microbiota to humans. That is why they don’t get constipated.

The human gut microbiota closely resembles that of other primates.

Traditional Inuits suffered from constipation. They also plants whenever possible.

Umi
Umi
3 years 3 months ago

While I appreciate having guest bloggers here, I find this fellow’s tone tiresome. I come to MDA for Mark’s balanced voice and observations, and this reminded me of those sensationalized websites that are trying to scare you into buying their product.
I was reading this, and I know that Chris Kresser (also a voice of reason in these wild internets) has a lot of good reasons to eat soluble fiber.
Anyway… I feel like there is good info here but it gets lost in the delivery and amongst extreme claims that may not be true.

valerie
valerie
3 years 3 months ago

I agree re: the tone. It’s not up to MDA standards.

Joanna R. C.
3 years 3 months ago
I don’t agree with the angle of this article. Am I the only one who is reading this as anti-veggie?? The primary source of fiber should come from green, leafy veggies and hardly any of us are eating enough of them!! It should NOT primarily come from fruits which are loaded with sugar which can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes. And it should certainly not come from “supplements”. I’m a firm believer that you can hardly ever consume too much fiber from the consumption of green, leafy veggies (preferably locally and organically grown) and that it CAN do wonders… Read more »
Amy
Amy
3 years 3 months ago
“A general rule of thumb is keep your meals simple and always have the majority of your plate be green, and eat light to heavy.” LOL – then I’m screwed. Eating like a rabbit never really made me feel better. “I consume at MINIMUM 6 cups of fresh leafy greens plus additional vegetables daily and don’t experience any of these mal effects. In fact, my health over the past year or so has been greatly enhanced since I’ve upped my intake of veggies and greens and paid more attention to food pairings. I no longer suffer from seasonal allergies, my… Read more »
Jennifer
Jennifer
3 years 3 months ago

Girl, I’m with you

Joanna R. C.
3 years 3 months ago

To each her own, Amy!

Nocona
Nocona
3 years 3 months ago

I don’t think Mr. Sisson will be cutting out his Big Ass Salads anytime soon. He is not worried about too much fiber…

Mark Sisson
3 years 3 months ago

BAS is here to stay! I’ll write a follow-up to this article next week to share my thoughts and answer some of the questions posed here. Stay tuned…

Konstantin Monastyrsky
3 years 3 months ago

Joanna, if you start young, it takes 20 to 30 years to develop fiber-related damages, depending on your genetics and degree of luck. That is what’s so scary about fiber, and this why its advocates are getting away with murder, literally…

Joanna R. C.
3 years 3 months ago
Hi Konstantin, I appreciate your reply! I’m having a hard time imagining the worst that would come from a diet abundant in a rotated variety of fresh, local organic greens – but I realize I still have a lot to learn. A diet filled with fiber supplements, starchy fiber and loads of fruit, sure, it’s a lot easier for me to understand why that would be advised against. I read The China Study, Green for Life, and Kimberly Snyder’s books about a year ago at this time (this was before I found Paleo) and these books made a pretty big… Read more »
Ash Simmonds
3 years 3 months ago

Hi Joanna – somewhere earlier I shared a page on which I’m collating a bunch of articles and studies that show the dark side of the fiber coin, here it is again anyhoo: http://highsteaks.com/forum/whatever/fiber-not-good-you-198.0.html

Susan
Susan
3 years 2 months ago

Joanna, check out Denise Minger’s response to The China Study. It’s an eye opener.

Elenor
Elenor
3 years 3 months ago

“green, leafy veggies … CAN do wonders for your body in cleaning out toxins and sludge”

Sorry-what?! Toxins and sludge?! What on earth are you eating (or suggesting someone else is eating) that results in toxins and sludge?! Is there anything in the medical literature that identifies these toxins and sludge?! No offense intended, but this to me sounds like a vegetarian trying to make meat sound bad…

Jay
Jay
3 years 3 months ago

That is not his point at all! you can eat vegetables and fruits. just don’t over eat them. And don’t add fiber. Fiber adds nothing to our health. Just because it happens to be included in fruits and vegetables doesn’t mean it’s needed. The human body can deal with both kinds of fiber. But not if you over eat it on a consistent basis.

Isaac
Isaac
3 years 18 days ago
Thanks for your comment Joanna. I agree 100% that we should be eating a plant-based diet… WITH eggs, grassfed meat, fish, etc thrown into those large plates of cooked greens. One or the other leaves you too acid or alkaline, or yin or yang as TCM would view it. I also agree about food combinations. Separating sugars from proteins is definitely something I advocate for making yourself ideally healthy. If you are more concerned with taste and pleasure then keep doing what you’re doing, but the fact is that optimal nutrient absorbtion will come only with optimal digestion chemistry, and… Read more »
michael
michael
3 years 3 months ago
This is a very important subject, and anyone who takes extra fiber for bowel movement purposes should at least read into to what he has to say. That being said, there are many effects fiber has on the body that one should keep in mind before going no fiber. Soluble fiber feeds gut microbes. soluble fiber tends to decrease the glycemic effect of a meal. Soluble fiber slows digestion (especially when taken with fat), which is good for protein absorption in the stomach. Insoluble fiber speeds digestion, which ensures less time for meat to sit in your intestines. insoluble also… Read more »
Betorq
Betorq
3 years 3 months ago
Konstantin left out a key fact, that whole foods don’t “just” contain pure fiber in a vaccum. I used Psyllium husks & ground psyllium seeds for years in the 80s-90s when I was doing cleanses. Some people react allergically to it & so much export quality psyllium has lots of fertilizers, pesticides on it, from unscrupulous growers in India. It’s label states it can be an irritant. I now use & recommend oil seeds like organic chia, hemp & perilla (oil). When my intake of dietary fat is steady (I eat a lot of fat, even pre-Primal) my bowels are… Read more »
Konstantin Monastyrsky
3 years 3 months ago
Soluble fiber feeds gut microbes. — “Microbes” don’t need any extra feed. They get all the feed they need from mucus in healthy people. Soluble fiber may help for commercial probiotics to multiply outside of the mucosal membrane, but innate flora don’t require extra feed. soluble fiber tends to decrease the glycemic effect of a meal. — It actually doesn’t unless you consume it in very large quantities, and the ensuing inflammation blocks the digestion of nutrients, and not just carbs. Soluble fiber slows digestion (especially when taken with fat), which is good for protein absorption in the stomach. —… Read more »
michael
michael
3 years 3 months ago
Hello Konstantin, thanks for clearing up some of these beliefs. There’s mounds & mounds of info against your conclusions, so you have a big hill to climb, but someone’s got to do it. I’ve been reading about the dangers of insoluble fiber around the net, so it seems like it’s starting to come to the forefront. I plan on reading several articles from your site, so you may provide the info there … -does soluble fiber slow digestion? If so, would eating it with meat(protein) allow the protein to stay in the stomach longer allowing it to digest fully as… Read more »
Rockfish
Rockfish
3 years 3 months ago
I agree the tone and overall message are not what I come to MDA to see. It’s one thing to challenge CW, but rants are not useful in that regard. He lost me on the first myth – it’s a poor argument that must rely on hyperbole for effect. Is the point that the USDA recommendation is too high? In that case, what is the right amount? Zero? If you ate an apple, and maybe some lettuce, spinach, carrots, peppers, tomato, etc (ie, a salad) then you’d get a pretty moderate fiber load along with a moderate carb load. What… Read more »
Mike
Mike
3 years 3 months ago

I experienced loss of libido just reading about bran.

Amy
Amy
3 years 3 months ago

🙂

Jeff Reynolds
Jeff Reynolds
3 years 3 months ago

All I know is that I’ve continued to get great results from a tablespoon of oat bran and a tablespoon of wheat bran, both raw/unprocessed daily on top of my cup of oatmeal. That constitutes my only grains and it keeps me a “regular” guy and has for years. Something about that bran whistling through the colon scrubbing it clean. Horsehockey? Maybe so, but it works for me!

Nocona
Nocona
3 years 3 months ago

Loved the classic warning label on the Metamucil…and people still take that stuff. CW-be gone with you!

Jake
Jake
3 years 3 months ago

I enjoyed the (well informed) comments more than the article.

joeyc
joeyc
3 years 3 months ago

in regards to inulin, i thought it was one of those things people with IBS should avoid, because it can be hard to digest, causing gas/bloating, etc?

Konstantin Monastyrsky
3 years 3 months ago

That is correct!

michele
michele
3 years 3 months ago

Unacceptable. This sensationalist, one-sided piece undermines the other content on MDA.

Mike
Mike
3 years 3 months ago

Interesting how closed minded some of the posters are, especially since the whole Primal movement is based on challenging the conventional wisdom of the SAD and Chronic Cardio. I guess once you know everything there is no room or tolerance for opposing viewpoints.

GiGi
3 years 3 months ago

Ha! Of course FIBER is not good for your sex life… It causes some bodily noises and functions that are just not sexy, lol!

Paleo-curious
3 years 3 months ago

This fellow seems more than a little monomaniacal… but I admit it was frustrating in my pre-Celiac diagnosis days to be told repeatedly by docs that I should eat more fiber to prevent my belly pain. I was a near-vegetarian, whole food/whole grain freak back then. Had I eaten any more fiber I swear I would have exploded!

So I can see how someone might over-react against that relentless, one-sided & unsubtle refrain. But now he seems just as dogmatic & unsubtle.

Amy
Amy
3 years 3 months ago

Paleo-curious – I agree. The whole article comes off over the top, even if most of the information is true.

michael
michael
3 years 3 months ago

If the information is in fact true (and I have no clue if it actually is), then the over the top feeling would be from the fact that no one has ever fought these long standing beliefs before. Almost like before the cholesterol myth was debunked. The fact that the biggest cash crops (grain & corn) are both high fiber, it’s no wonder the industry wants us to believe they’re healthy to eat in large quantities. Nutritional science strikes again!

Christine H.
Christine H.
3 years 3 months ago
His writing style is a bit hard to take but I do think he has some good information on his website and in his book (this article seems like he took his website and book chopped bits here and there and stuck it together without the full arguments or scientific reasoning) By following his fiber (he says to shoot for 15 g in the book), probiotics, and water recommendations my husband and I have significantly improved the lingering digestive issues we still had after going primal. I know the article seems like he condemns all fiber but he doesn’t I… Read more »
Daniel
Daniel
3 years 3 months ago

Completely agree!!

Kim
Kim
3 years 3 months ago

I frequently refer to this website on the basics of human digestion. It explains a lot on why fiber creates more problems than it solves.

http://www.gnolls.org/1444/does-meat-rot-in-your-colon-no-what-does-beans-grains-and-vegetables/

Zach rusk
Zach rusk
3 years 3 months ago

Who focus entirely on fruit and not vegetables? I’ll put $ down that is how most primal folks are getting their fiber.

Matt
Matt
3 years 3 months ago

Interesting article but my main focus is to eat/live better. Less processed crap = better living.

Zach rusk
Zach rusk
3 years 3 months ago

Also, where are the links to any actual scientific data on the statements?

Harry Mossman
3 years 3 months ago
Ok, I disagree with most of you. The point of the blog is that fiber is not the miracle cure all. IMHO, that was reasonably presented and documented. If you do well on BAS, great. Show me evidence that Grok had a daily BAS. From Mark’s Carbohydrate Curve: 150-300 grams/day – Steady, Insidious Weight Gain. Yes, I would like him to have distinguished between soluble and insoluble. He did say early in the blog that fruits and vegetables are fine in moderation. The blog didn’t come off as anti-veggie to me. I would point out, however, that there are many… Read more »
Christine H.
Christine H.
3 years 3 months ago

+1

Amy
Amy
3 years 3 months ago
Hmmm..anti-veggie in what sense? I do eat vegetables. I like them, they are tasty with animal products. 😉 I just don’t think they’re necessary if you eat fresh, grass-fed meat with bone broth and organ meat. They strike me as a secondary nutrition source, not a primary one. Thus, I, at least, tend to react negativity when I hear about them as a sort of holy grail of health. I agree that it wasn’t anti-veggie post, but I don’t see as particular persuasive either. I’ve *never* heard of fiber being used to treat diarrhea, ever. (Myth #12) My husband and… Read more »
Daniel
Daniel
3 years 3 months ago

+1

tkm
tkm
3 years 3 months ago

Thank you for this. I didn’t find this article to be hysterical or ranting. I too would have liked a distinction made between insoluble and soluble fiber, but this article had a narrower focus; he was discrediting various common myths about fiber. If he was emphatic in his tone, so what? He had good arguments as well as scientific sources to back them up.

Jeff
Jeff
3 years 3 months ago

Yes this guest author must be a total “quack”, with his challenging conventional wisdom, and use of PubMed to make a point. I cannot believe Mark didn’t run a background check on this guy. Did he even read his biography, or look at his “crazy” site? (Sarcasm)

Mark I appreciate all you and your team do.

J.
J.
3 years 3 months ago
I have personal experience with Fiber Menace and applying it to my own body. I’ll try and keep it brief and coherent. I had poor digestive health since I was a kid and my diet was not helping. Half a year before I changed my diet I had terrible constipation. I went to a doctor and he prescribed fiber supplements. I tried and my stool eventually just became so big and dry that I couldn’t expel it one day and developed an anal fissure that had me bleeding for a few months after most bowel movements. After I found fat… Read more »
Shary
Shary
3 years 3 months ago

Yes it is…to some extent. But there the similarity ends. Metamucil can also contain wheat flour, fructose, soy lecithin, ascorbic acid (preservative), sucrose, FD&C Yellow No. 6, plus a variety of other ingredients, any of which can aggravate IBS. Whole psyllium husks are completely natural and contain nothing else. Taken according to directions, it can be helpful for both IBS-D and IBS-C.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/272758-metamucil-ingredients/

Shary
Shary
3 years 3 months ago

This was intended to be a reply to a different comment. I don’t know why it appeared here.

Alma Mahler
3 years 3 months ago
I agree with others who have said they don’t like the aggressive, tirading tone of this article. My biggest complaint about it, though, is that it implies — DESPITE the disclaimer that normal people don’t need to restrict veggies — that vegetables are somehow not good for you, or not important in the diet. But I just don’t see this played out in reality. Obviously Kellogg was a nut, but it is a false choice that either we embrace him or reject the whole idea of fiber as having any nutritional value whatsoever. The author clearly has an axe to… Read more »
Harry Mossman
3 years 3 months ago

Those of you who think the tone of the blog is fanatical . . . read through the comments. Hehe.

Daniel
Daniel
3 years 3 months ago

+1

Melissa
Melissa
3 years 20 days ago

+1 again

Dave
Dave
3 years 3 months ago

I’m glad this got covered since it’s too popular to ignore, but “fiber is bad” is way too simplistic for the crowd on MDA. We know that there are all sorts of things in plant foods, not just carbs and fiber. Whole wheat, white rice, broccoli, and apples are all very different foods.

Mary Mac
Mary Mac
3 years 3 months ago

Just read Kellogg’s bio on Wikepedia. Wow, “freak” doesn’t begin to describe it. But he and his brother (also a vegetarian) both lived to 91, which, considering how he lived, must’ve been a very long life indeed.

Brad
Brad
3 years 3 months ago
Resistant Starch is a filler? Butyrate is bad for you? All forms of fiber are the same? WTF? Undercooked, or cooked and then cooled tubers – potatoes, cassava/tapioca root, yams, carrots, etc. These are all things that Grok would have eaten. These have what’s called “retrograded starch” which is a “resistant starch” which is a form of fiber and a prebiotic. Are we supposed to believe that this is not natural, and is not healthy? This article is garbage and Sisson should be ashamed to post it. Mark, this is an advertisement that you got paid for right? Please tell… Read more »
Daniel
Daniel
3 years 3 months ago

In an earlier reply Mark already stated he’ll write a follow-up next week.

Joey
Joey
3 years 3 months ago

Interesting article, I agree with a few of the reasonable posters as to the article sounding a little harsh against fiber. But a lot of anything is no good in my opinion.

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