Fiber Variety

Using different fiber sources together boosts the power of a cleansing routine.

November-December 2012

by Lisa James


What could be more straightforward than the idea of consuming more dietary fiber? Most Americans don’t get enough of either bowel-regulating insoluble fiber or the cholesterol-controlling soluble type, so health authorities have been telling us for years to eat additional helpings of fiberous foods such as whole grains and fresh produce.

As it turns out, fiber isn’t as simple as we once thought. Different types of fiber have been found to provide distinct benefits, including the ability to enhance a cleansing routine.

High Fiber, Good Health

The term “fiber” covers a number of compounds. Some are viscous, forming gels that delay stomach emptying (which promotes a sense of fullness) and help to lower cholesterol. Others are fermentable, supporting healthy probiotic bacteria found in the intestinal tract and producing fuel for cells in the intestinal lining. Other fibers supply bulk to maintain bowel regularity.

Different types of fiber come from various sources. Prunes, either whole or in supplemental powder form, are famed for their ability to fight constipation; they aren’t as well-known for their stores of vitamin K and antioxidants. Acacia gum helps normalize bowel function and has been linked to better blood sugar control and improved probiotic function, as well as providing protection against bleeding caused by NSAID use (Pharmacognosy Research 4-6/11). Oat bran contains beta-glucan, which helps keep cholesterol and blood sugar in check; studies indicate it may also work with calcium to reduce levels of inflammatory substances within the intestines (Journal of Nutrition 4/12).

Besides supplying omega-3 fats, flax seed also contains lignans, fibers that promote healthy hormone balance and may fight colon cancer development (Drug Discoveries & Therapeutics 6/10).

Given all the functions fulfilled by the various types of fiber, it’s not surprising that high fiber intake has been linked to reduced disease risk. For example, one large study found an association between fiber consumption and reductions in the occurrence of colorectal cancer (PLoS One 6/12).

Fiber and Friends

Fiber’s benefits explain why it plays a key role in helping the body rid itself of noxious substances. “Colon cleansing is among the most important parts of detoxification. The large intestine releases many toxins, and sluggish functioning of this organ can rapidly produce general toxicity,” says Elson Haas, MD, author of Staying Healthy with Nutrition (Celestial Arts). Calcium and magnesium also support colon health, including promotion of proper neuromuscular function within the digestive tract.

An algae called Algas calcareas provides these minerals in an absorbable form.

As crucial a role as a clean colon plays in detoxification, however, a complete cleanse requires addressing all of the body’s detoxification channels. That’s why fiber works best for cleansing when combined with herbs that support organs such as the liver, the body’s main chemical processing plant, and gastrointestinal gateways such as the cardiac sphincter, which keeps stomach contents from backing up into the esophagus. Using organic herbs for this purpose lets the cleanse work more thoroughly, without introducing additional toxins into the body.

Looking to get more fiber into your diet? That’s a great idea—as is using a blend of fibers to promote internal cleansing.

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