Simply Fit - Nutrition and Exercise Consulting




MyCSSMenu Save Document

Nutrition Column

Fiber as a drug

Dietary and supplemental fiber act like drugs to reduce your disease markers and improve your health.

One of the changes you can make in your diet is to increase fiber intake both through increased vegetables and grains and with supplemental fiber. Fiber, like an entire class of pharmaceutical drugs, acts to bind bile and its constituents causing them to be excreted from your body in the feces.

Cholestyramine and colestipol are two commonly prescribed bile acid sequestrant medications used to lower blood cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk. They, like all drugs come with dangerous side effects.

Fiber, on the other hand, has few side effects and many benefits. Not only does eating fiber help lower your blood cholesterol levels, it also aids in blood sugar regulation, lowering of your hormone-dependent tumor and cancer growth, body weight regulation, and more.

While the typical American intake is between 5 and ten grams per day the recommended intake is 25 to 30 grams per day. And even more is needed when using fiber for pharmacological purposes. Somewhere in the order of 40 to 70 grams -combined dietary and supplemental fiber - works well in reducing markers while minimizing any negative consequences of excessive intake. Having regular blood panels taken, including a lipid profile, will allow you and your physician to monitor the positive changes taking place.

Making the change to a high fiber diet should occur slowly, over weeks and months, in order to minimize gastrointestinal discomfort. For many switching from a diet consisting of processed foods to one full of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains will be a great start. Later, adding supplemental fiber can bring your daily intake above 40 grams.

An added side benefit of increased fiber will be improved satiety. Vegetarians and others who eat high fiber diets tend to eat less processed food and to eat overall healthier diets. Increasing fiber in your diet goes hand in hand with reducing total fat, saturated fats, and cholesterol. All benefits to your health ... and appearance.

One reason to use supplemental fiber, in addition to dietary fiber, is to create an acute bolus that will bind as much bile, conjugated hormones (excreted excess hormones), cholesterol, ... as possible.

In physiological terms a bolus is “a rounded mass of food passing through the gastrointestinal tract”. As a mass it picks up excess waste products and rids them from the body better. Fiber in food often is released more slowly into the small intestine, and while beneficial, works less effectively in removing large amounts of bile and its constituents.

One warning: similar to bile acid sequestrants, supplemental fiber should be ingested alone and separated from medications and nutritional supplements by two or more hours to limit any mal-absorption of essential nutrients.

Written by Dr. Sternlicht for on 11.06.06