Dietary Fiber Prevents You from Cancer, Part III

Can Fiber Cause Trouble?

( continuation of the previous article )

Scientists believe that we may be able to adapt to high-fiber diets. But this is not known for sure. It is speculation based on a handful of studies.

The effect of fiber on minerals varies among the different types. Here is what scientists think based on current knowledge:

  • Iron nutrition probably won’t be affected by eating more fiber.
  • Fiber probably will decrease absorption of zinc and copper.
  • If zinc and copper intake is good, the decrease in absorption probably will not create any problems.

Whole grains contain more zinc and copper than refined grains, so this may offset any loss of these minerals resulting from the fiber. But until we know this for a fact, I feel it’s best to take a moderate rather than extreme approach to the fiber content of your diet.

Another Mineral-Robber

Fiber is not the only substances in whole grain foods that can bind to minerals. Whole grains also contain phytic acid, which can also tie up minerals. Nutritionists also refer to phytic acid as phytate.

Fortunately, we now know that yeast can destroy phytate. This means that it should not be a problem in whole grain breads made with yeast. Nutritionists believe that phytate is rarely a problem, except among people eating enormous amounts of unleavened bread. Few, if any, of us eat such a diet.

Fighting Fat with Fiber

If you’re weight watcher, you probably remember the ‘starch blockers’ that came out in 1982. The too-good-to-be true claims were just that. The pills landed more than two dozen people in the hospital. The FDA had its hands full getting the stuff off the market.

Well, fiber may be the only starch blocker that doesn’t make us sick.

Nutritionists have long known that fiber blocks the absorption of some of the calories in food. It not only blocks the calories from carbohydrates; it takes on protein, fat, and carbohydrate  pretty much equally. Studies show that people absorb 1% to 3% fewer calories when eating a high-fiber diet.

Sound like a fantasy? It is not. Most of us gain weight slowly, at the rate of an extra pound or two per year. For a woman needing 100 calories a day, a 1% fall in calories absorbed would mean a loss of two pounds per year. A 3% reduction in calories absorbed translates into 6 fewer pounds per year.

There’s only one catch. These findings come from short-term studies. No one knows whether the body will adapt to a high-fiber diet so that eventually just as many calories are absorbed.

Fiber researchers have reported getting complaints from their subject about the “large” quantity of food they were asked to eat. Little did the subjects realize that the high-fiber diets contained no more calories than low-fiber diet.

This is a clue that fiber creates a feeling of fullness. Nutritionists have long suspected that it does. In the stomach, fiber swells with water. This may help curb hunger.

Some scientists also believe that high-fiber foods help with weight control because they take longer to chew.

One thing is for sure: a high-fiber diet based on whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is likely to be nutritionally sound. That is more than can be said for so many of the “miracle” weight-loss diets that come along every year.

More Benefits of Fiber

Fiber is now known to benefit the following conditions:

  1. Diverticulosis and diverticulitis
  2. High blood cholesterol
  3. Diabetes
  4. It may also help prevent tooth decay!

Let’s take a closer look at these findings.

Diverticulosis is a common condition among older people. It refers to outpouchings of the intestines. Food can get caught in these pockets. Often the result is inflammation and pain.

Doctors used to treat this problem with a low-fiber diet. But much to their surprise, they have learned that a high-fiber diet usually gives much better results. In general, patients are asked to add wheat bran to their diets.

Dental researchers believe that whole grain foods may play a role in preventing tooth decay. Studies show that something in whole grains may protect the teeth from decay-producing acids in the mouth. The bacteria in the mouth produce these acids.

( The Next Fiber’s Benefit and How to Estimate Fiber Content )