The word "fiber" may bring many thoughts to our minds. Helping us "stay regular" would be the most prominent thought for most of us. This is certainly true; however, fiber plays a much larger role in the prevention and reversal of disease, as Dr. Neal Barnard points out in this ten minute video.
Fiber is the indigestible substance which is resistant to digestive enzymes. Its role in removing toxic waste products is an important one. Carcinogens, for example, found in meat and dairy products, are moved along more quickly when sufficient fiber is available. This shortens the time it has to damage the lining of the intestines, which helps us avoid colon cancer. This would explain one reason why colon cancer rates are much lower in those consuming a plant-based diet.Fiber also promotes the growth of good bacteria in our intestinal tract, which helps us maintain a healthy immune system. Another benefit fiber provides is the removal of unwanted components circulating in our blood stream. Dr. Barnard demonstrates this fact by showing us how fiber removes excess estrogen, testosterone, pharmaceutical drugs, and cholesterol. Fiber attaches itself to these components, and escorts them out of the body.
The typical American diet which is rich in heavily processed foods, oils, animal products, and sugary drinks, is a fiber-deficient diet, since these products contain little or no fiber. Fiber is found only in whole or minimally processed plant foods, animal products contain no fiber. In contrast, a whole-food, plant-based diet supplies an abundance of fiber, more than twice the recommended minimum daily intake. Most Americans consuming the standard American diet, eat a troubling 10-15 grams of fiber per day, whereas a plant-based diet can easily provide 60 to 100+ grams per day.
Consuming a fiber-rich diet helps avoid many common ailments and diseases. For instance, hormone related conditions such a menopausal hot flashes, PMS, heavy periods, and breast and prostate cancer are less common in those consuming a plant-rich diet. Fiber also helps eliminate excess cholesterol, and keeps our blood sugar levels steady, which is crucial for diabetics. Additionally, fiber aids in weight loss by quickly filling our stomachs. This results in fewer calories consumed as well as producing and maintaining satiety. A high-fiber diet also improves gastrointestinal function, which protects against constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticulosis.
After seeing the many benefits fiber has to offer, we hope that you are encouraged to add more fiber-rich foods to your daily meal plans.
For more information on the benefits of fiber, see: