January 20, 2014


Articles by Dr. Erdman are for informational purposes, and are not to be taken as specific medical advice.

The recommended daily intake of fiber is between 20 and 30 grams per day. Most adults don’t eat half that much. This isn’t surprising, since health fibers are processed right out of our largely refined food diet.

Unless you regularly eat whole fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, you are probably missing out on the healthiest forms of fiber. You may think your diet of bran muffins and cereals has you up to capacity, but that may be a big mistake.

There are major health benefits from eating adequate fiber regularly. Soluble fiber helps control your blood sugar by slowing the breakdown of carbs and sugar.

There is an inverse relationship to heart disease. The more fiber in your diet, the less incidence of heart disease, up to a 40% lower risk.

Fiber helps manage weight loss due to increased bulk in the stomach and a more satiated feeling.

Researchers have found that for every 7 grams of fiber in your diet per day, you have a 7% reduced risk of stroke.

Diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) all reap benefits with higher dietary fiber.
The risk of gallstones and kidney stones are reduced, likely due to the blood sugar regulation of fiber.

One thing fiber does not do, as advertised by some well known brands, is increase energy. It cannot. Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate. There are no calories and fiber does not produce energy on its own.

If you ask your doctor about fiber, they will likely tell you the best way to get your fiber is through bran muffins, whole grains and cereals. As usual, that would be incorrect. As Dr. Loren Cardain, a professor at Colorado State University and an expert in Paleolithic lifestyles says, humans are not meant or designed to eat grains, and doing so may actually damage your gut. Vegetables and fruits are a far superior fiber source than grains.

Grains actually contain anti-nutrients that can damage your health. The high fiber, bran portion of whole grains contain substances such as gliadin and lectins, which increase intestinal permeability, called leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut can cause digestive problems such as bloating, gas and abdominal cramps. It can also contribute to symptoms such as fatigue, skin rashes, joint pain, allergies, autism and psychological conditions.

All grains contain prolamines, that are binding, pasty substances our bodies were just not meant to breakdown correctly. While fiber is great for blood sugar regulation, getting it from grains may worsen conditions such as diabetes. Grain carbohydrates increase the risk of cancer by increasing insulin levels.

Here is a short list of easily found and highly edible foods with a significant source of fiber. Almost all berries, beans, green beans and peas. Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, and flax seeds contain lots fiber. Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts…most root vegetables and tubers including sweet potatoes and onions, are a source of fiber. If you must buy fiber, be sure it is from psyllium seed husk, flax husk or chia seeds.

The most simple rule is to get your fiber from fruits and vegetables, not from breads and grains.