Health Sachet No 286:

Guess which is the world’s most forgotten nutrient? Fiber.

Just because it does not get absorbed in the body, people think fiber is not important.

Science is slowly learning fiber’s myriad health benefits in heart disease, blood pressure control, obesity, diabetes, colon cancer, gastric reflux and autoimmune conditions such as IBD / IBS.

Dr Robynne Chutkan, a gastroenterologist with specialisation in ulcerative colitis, interviewed on ConsumerLab:

A few highlights:

  • Men need 38 gm fiber a day, while women need 25 gm (the rule of thumb is: 14 gm of fiber per 1000 calorie from diet). Most get 15 gm of fiber a day.
  • 10 gm/day more fiber lowers heart attack deaths by 25%.
  • Fiber binds to cholesterol and lowers it.
  • Water-soluble fiber helps in diarrhoea (yes, by absorbing water) as well as constipation (helps in piles).
  • Fourteen gm fiber a day extra helped lower 2 kg in 4 months by increasing satiety (feeling of fullness).
  • Fiber helps in diabetes by slowing down sugar absorption, helping stay full longer, reducing belly fat and by not letting insulin levels rise too high.
  • Fiber is food for useful bacteria in intestine (pre-biotic, which is different from pro-biotic such as yogurt). It helps by raising population of beneficial bacteria in colon which reduces inflammation (swelling) in intestine. So it helps in autoimmune conditions.
  • Most people think they eat enough fiber, but they actually don’t.
  • If you cannot get enough fiber from food, take fiber supplements, preferably in the morning to let gravity help you.

Increase your daily intake of fiber (from diet or supplements) by 10 gm, and up to 20 gm if you have medical issues such as diabetes, constipation (or piles), high cholesterol, autoimmune conditions and obesity.