Friday, March 30, 2012

Oh shit! Eat more Fiber?

One of the remedies frequently recommended for constipation is "eat more fiber". This always seems odd to me. If my stool is too hard, why would I want to eat something fibrous and non-digestible that adds yet more bulk to my waste?

The theory is that more bulk helps to push "food" through the colon more quickly as the body. The longer food stays in the colon, the more water is pulled out of it, and the harder it gets. Foods with little fiber, like white bread, form a squishy lump that resist the muscular contractions of the colon - imagine trying to squeeze jello through a tube.

Many years ago our large German Shepard ate some flour that I used to coat chicken. A few days later he started to bulk up - his stomach was expanding. A Vet determined that the dog's intestine was blocked by a lump of dough. He opened the dog up, messaged his gut, the lump became unstuck, and everything started to flow again. Afterwards the dog was fine but our checkbook sure took a hit.

Bottom Line

From WebMD,
"The average American gets about 11 grams of fiber daily, much less than we need, according to the American Dietetic Association. Women should aim for 21 to 25 grams of fiber daily. Men should aim for 30 to 38 grams of fiber daily. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends eating at least nine servings (four 1/2 cups) of fiber-filled fruits and vegetables each day, including apples, oranges, broccoli, berries, pears, peas, figs, carrots, and beans. Some people get stomach cramps and gas when they increase their intake of fiber. Change your diet gradually and increase fluids to reduce these discomforts." recommends:
  • Fruits: pears, apples, berries, oranges, tangerines
  • Vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, squash, potatoes
  • Legumes: beans, lentils, peas
  • Grains: whole-wheat breads, brown rice, bran, oatmeal
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts

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