Mar
12
2016

Fiber, An Essential Food Ingredient

The Standard American Diet will not provide enough fiber, an essential food ingredient. The fiber intake in the US population is between 12.5 grams and 16.8 grams on average, which is way below the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine as listed below.

Depending on age and gender the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies has recommended the following guidelines for adequate daily fiber intake in grams per person.

Institute of Medicine fiber recommendations (gram per person per day)

Males: age 9-13: 21 grams; age14 to 50: 38 grams; age 51 and higher: 30 grams

Females: age 9-18: 25 grams; age 19-50: 21 grams; age 51 and higher: 21 grams

Children: age 1-3: 19 grams; age 4-8: 25 grams

Brief history regarding fiber

Sir Dr. Denis Burkitt, the famous English surgeon, examined bowel movements (stools) of African tribes in comparison to his English countrymen and came to the conclusion in the 1940’s that the Western world needed to remedy constipation problems and cancer of the colon problems by eating more fiber.

He is still right: fiber is mainly treating the constipation (not preventing the cancer), but the chemicals that are also in the vegetables contain a multitude of natural anti-carcinogenic substances, which provide the powerful preventative action against colon cancer and many other cancers. Lycopene, not known at the time of Sir Dr. Burkitt is one of these and is found in tomatoes and tomato products.

Old historic observation by Dr. Burkitt still relevant today

Sir Dr. Burkitt’s observation that high bulk foods (like vegetables and green leaves) prevent cancer is as valid today as it was in the mid 1900’s. In the meantime it has become evident that fiber also lowers cholesterol and helps prevent heart attacks and strokes as well.

What are some of the problems with fiber intake?

Here is a typical day for a Standard American diet:

1. The average breakfast with two toasts, an egg and sausage. This contains 0.7 grams of fiber. The coffee or tea or juice that is consumed contains no fiber.

2. For lunch you may eat a hamburger in a bun and a helping of French fries. There are 2 grams of fiber in the bun and 3.9 grams of fiber in the French fries, a total of 5.9 grams. Alternatively you may want to eat a pepperoni medium pizza: 0 grams of fiber!

The Standard American diet goes on

3. Dinner may consist of one baked potato (3.4 Grams of fiber), beef steak (0 grams of fiber, no matter whether it is an 8 oz. or 10 oz. steak) and mixed vegetables (1 cup, which contains 5 grams of fiber). For dessert you may have a bowl of ice cream (1 gram of fiber). If you eat in a restaurant you also get a bun with butter (0 grams of fiber) plus a small garden salad (0.9 grams of fiber).

4. Snacks during the morning: medium oat bran muffin: 5 grams of fiber

5. Afternoon snack: cinnamon roll: 1 gram of fiber.

Fiber total of the day for Standard American diet

Grand total of the day for Standard American diet: 22.9 grams of fiber. It depends whether or not you consumed the mixed vegetables and the bran muffin. If you did not eat the mixed vegetables and the bran muffin, you may only have consumed 12.9 grams of fiber. If you had pizza for lunch, you only got 7 grams of fiber that day.

Sources of fiber from foods

You can see from these few examples that processed foods tend to have a lot less fiber than vegetables and fruit. Particularly pastas and bread are devoid of fiber, but very rich in calories. So, if we were serious about wanting to increase our fiber content in the food we eat, we need to ensure enough intake of fruit and vegetables that contain fiber. There are many useful websites that list the fiber content per food item: if you look for the fiber content of a medium sized apple using this website, you find that it contains 4 grams of fiber.

This would be a much better snack than an ice cream with no or very little fiber. Here are more fiber suggestions.

How can we increase fiber intake?

We need to think about the whole nutritional equation, how many calories are in food, how much sugar, how much fat and protein. If we want to increase the amount of fiber we take in, we definitely have to watch the sugar content of the food item in question.

For instance ¼ cup of raisins has 2 grams of fiber in it, but also 29 grams of sugar, translating into 130 calories. Conversely, ½ cup of raspberries contains 4.6 grams of fiber and has only 20 calories. This choice is definitely a winner compared to raisins.

Use the Internet to learn about the fiber content of the various foods while you keep an eye on sugar content and calories as well. The idea is to maximize the fiber content in your food intake by cutting out fiber empty foods and adding fiber rich foods as much as possible.

Example of a fiber rich day

1. Breakfast: Omelet with green onions, mushrooms and spinach. Garnish this with ½ avocado and two tablespoons of salsa. The spinach/onion omelet with mushrooms has 3 grams of fiber. ½ avocado provides 5 grams of fiber; the salsa adds 0.6 grams of fiber. Breakfast total: 8.6 grams of fiber.

2. Lunch: Greek salad with turkey breast (4 grams of fiber). Add a snack of one handful (1.5 oz.) of walnuts as desert: 3 grams of fiber. Lunch total: 7 grams of fiber.

The fiber rich day goes on

3. Dinner: Small salad, salmon with broccoli and 1 grilled tomato. Fruit salad for desert. Salad: 0.9 grams of fiber; salmon: 0 grams of fiber; ¾ cup of cooked broccoli: 7 grams of fiber; grilled tomato: 0.6 grams of fiber; fruit salad: 3 grams of fiber. Dinner total: 11.5 grams of fiber.

4. Snacks throughout the day: 1 pear in the morning: 4 grams of fiber; 1 apple in the afternoon: 4 grams of fiber; 1 handful of walnuts: 3 grams of fiber. Snacks total fiber: 11 grams of fiber.

Total of fiber for the fiber rich day: 38.1 grams of fiber.

Fiber math

This is where it is getting interesting. Depending on whether you are a woman aged above or below 50 years or a man aged above or below 50 years, you have different fiber intake requirements as mentioned above. With the fiber rich diet you have exceeded your daily goal easily whether you are a man or a woman above or below 50. You won the race easily. Fiber intake does not mean that you eat fibrous food that tastes like sawdust! This diet example shows you delicious and nutritious food.

Measuring fiber content of food

But with the American Standard diet you barely reached the goal if you ate your mixed vegetables and the bran muffin and you are a woman above or below the age of 50. 22.9 grams of fiber is not enough for a child between the ages of 4 and 8 and it is definitely not enough for a man above or below the age of 50.

Watching what we are eating based on fiber content

This type of math just shows you how deficient our modern Western type food intake is. And if you look at the aspect of it being delicious or even nutritious it leaves a lot to be desired! This is what Sir Dr. Denis Burkitt found when he compared the food intake of civilized English citizens with tribes in the African jungle. He recognized last century that England’s fiber deprived diet compared to the fiber rich diet in Africa was responsible for the much higher colon cancer rates in England. It is only now that we are recognizing the enormity of his investigations.

Cardiovascular significance of high fiber

Apart from reducing colon cancer incidence fiber has also gained recognition for prevention against heart attacks and strokes. It turns out that the enterohepatic pathway is interfered with through the intake of fiber. Cholesterol from bile is bound to fiber in the gut and transported to the sewer instead of being taken up through the enterohepatic pathway, which includes the portal vein system and the liver. The end result is that triglycerides and LDL cholesterol fall, while HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) is raised, and hardening of the arteries slows down significantly. The patient lives longer, heart attack and stroke rates go down, and there is less disability.

Supplement fiber, if you are not getting enough in food

There is good news. Psyllium husk, Metamucil and any other fiber supplement can help you to reach and surpass your daily fiber goal. There is no danger of overdosing as any surplus simply comes out in your stool. You will notice as you increase your fiber intake that your stool volumes go up. Sir Dr. Burkitt actually weighed the stool of patients in Africa and in England: African tribes had voluminous stools, while people in English had much smaller stool volumes. This is how Sir Dr. Burkitt detected the importance of fiber intake.

Example of how to fit fiber into your dietary schedule

Let’s assume you are a male aged 45 years and your diet is a bit better than the average Standard American diet with a daily intake of 25 grams of fiber. Your daily goal is 38 grams of fiber, so you are 13 grams short. You can solve this problem. Get a fiber supplement from the health food store where 1 teaspoon contains about 5 grams of fiber. Be careful: fiber is very thirsty and uses up a lot of water. If you use psyllium husk powder, make sure to add about 1 cup of water to 1 ½ teaspoons of the psyllium husk powder or another similar product. Once you added enough water and stirred well you can drink it down.

Always drink enough fluids to get the fiber down

Between fiber gulps drink some more water to dilute any fiber stuck in your esophagus as it goes down into your stomach. Enough fluid intake is crucial, as the fiber binds fluid in your digestive tract. Repeat this procedure (1 ½ teaspoons of psyllium husk powder with lots of water) at lunchtime. You have now added 15 grams of fiber (2×7.5 grams) to your daily 25 grams of fiber. This brings you to a total of 40 grams of fiber, well above your goal of 38 grams. If you plan to use a fiber supplement it is recommendable that you start with small amounts of fiber. Start  maybe with just one teaspoon per day and increase the amount gradually.

The best is to switch your diet to the fiber rich diet

Your alternative would be to switch your diet to the fibre rich diet described above. Your basic intake was 38.1 grams, just enough to reach your goal. If you want to play it even safer, you may want to add another handful of walnuts (3 grams of fiber) or ¾ teaspoonful of psyllium husk powder with water to bring your total fiber intake to above 41 grams.

With the introduction of the various fiber products that you can buy at the health food store, it is now much easier to manage your total fiber intake.

 

Fiber, An Essential Food Ingredient

Fiber, An Essential Food Ingredient

Conclusion

In the past few years we heard from cardiologists that heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure could all be helped by much higher fiber intakes. But the public in general has not listened very well to this message. Gastroenterologists also have been urging people to eat more fiber for colon cancer prevention, but many other cancers are also diminished by regular fiber intake. Breast cancer is one of these cancers responding to extra fiber intake. The bottom line is that we all need to pay attention to what we eat. We need to learn how little fiber there is in many foods. The tables can be found online. It may come as a surprise to you that a healthy bowl of tossed salad has only very little fiber. The total fiber content in our food may not add up to what we need (see table above). Simply supplement with psyllium husk powder or another fiber supplement. Do not forget to drink plenty of liquids. This is not only help for those who experience constipation. It is powerful prevention of heart attacks, strokes and many cancers.

Mar
29
2014

Alternative Treatment Of Hyperactivity (ADHD)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD or ADD, attention deficit disorder) has been in the spotlight on and off over the years. It affects 8% to 10% of school-aged children, and about 2% to 5% of adults who still have this condition.

Typically a parent receives a note from school that they must come to a teacher/parent meeting and it is discussed that the child is disruptive in class, not paying attention, interrupting the teacher inappropriately and forgetting to do their homework. The teacher suggests that this may be a sign of hyperactivity. The school nurse is also of this opinion and they suggest getting a prescription for Ritalin or Adderall (amphetamine type medications), drugs that have been shown in other kids to be fairly effective in treating the symptoms.

Next the child is seen by the doctor who confirms the diagnosis and Ritalin (methylphenidate) is prescribed.

In an attempt to quickly control the situation, the side effects of Ritalin are often not discussed in detail: agitation, insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite, palpitations, dizziness, headaches, an increase in the heart rate, blood pressure elevation, and even psychosis (Ref.1).

It is easy to just write a prescription for Ritalin and hope that all is well. Had the parents heard of all the possible side effects, they may have asked whether there were alternative treatments available.

The causes of hyperactivity (ADHD)

The exact cause of ADHD remains unknown, but there is a clustering of this condition in some families, so there seems to be a clear genetic component (Ref.2). It appears that several genes are involved, namely those associated with serotonin and glutamate transporters, but also those affecting dopamine metabolism. Males are affected with ADHD more often than females (in children 3:1, in adults 1:1).

Alternative Treatment Of Hyperactivity (ADHD)

Alternative Treatment Of Hyperactivity (ADHD)

Some remarks regarding brain development are in order: Dr. Kharrazian describes that the grey matter of the brain develops before the age of 9 and the development of the white matter is completed by the age of 19 (Ref. 3, p.3). In ADHD patients the frontal brain is underdeveloped resulting in an inability to suppress unacceptable behavior, immediate desires and impulses. Prescription drugs may alter the behavior on the surface, but the frontal brain development is still lagging behind. The only thing that can influence this is behavioral/cognitive therapy and extra tutoring while the symptoms are controlled. The window of opportunity is closed by the time the ADHD patient has reached the age of 19. After that a juvenile ADHD turns into a permanent adult ADHD. The cases that had only childhood ADHD and outgrew it were the ones where the frontal lobe abnormalities had corrected themselves before the age of 19.

This review article has noted that there is an association between a Western style diet (sugar and fat rich) and ADHD.

Interestingly both Ref. 1 and 2, which I would categorize as having originated from mainstream conventional medicine circles, deny such an association. But the link also noted that a healthy diet with fiber, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids as well as supplementation with iron and zinc when these minerals are found to be low in the blood, do make a significant difference in ADHD patients towards normalization of their symptoms.

One of the under diagnosed causes of ADHD is gluten sensitivity as Dr. Perlmutter described in his book (Ref. 4, pages 150-158). This can spare the child or teenager the toxic side effects of anxiolytics, antidepressants or antipsychotics that may be inappropriately prescribed by their physicians, and a gluten free diet would allow the brain to recover very quickly in such cases. A food sensitivity history and some simple gluten sensitivity blood screening tests will diagnose this condition or rule it out.

To complicate matters even more, Dr. Amen has mentioned in several books that there are at least 7 different subcategories of ADHD that he has found in ADHD patients when studying thousands of single-photon emission computed tomography brain scans (SPECT brain scans). Dr. Amen mentions that the 7 subcategories of ADHD are the combined type ADD, the primarily inattentive ADD subtype, overfocused ADD, temporal lobe ADD, limbic ADD, ring of fire ADD and trauma induced ADD. Dr. Amen explains that each of these types needs to be treated differently and some of the treatment failures are explained by the fact that the wrong type of ADD was treated (Ref.5).

Treatment of ADHD

In the following I mention 5 steps that are useful for treating ADHD patients.

  1. A first step toward normalization of the metabolic changes in the brain metabolism of the affected child or adult is to adopt a diet that has been linked with low risk for ADHD: avoid food additives, cut out refined sugar, avoid known food allergies like gluten sensitivity and others. You may need to test the patient for food allergies using an elimination diet. Add a good amount of molecularly distilled omega-3 fatty acids (the pure form of omega-3 without mercury, lead or PCBs) as this has shown beneficial effects in ADHD patients.
  2. Involve a behavioral psychologist for behavioral/cognitive therapy treatments. This is particularly effective in the 9 to 19 year old category where the frontal region of the brain is still developing.
  3. Work together with the schoolteacher and get supplemental teaching in areas of academic weakness to reduce the frustrations in the classroom setting.
  4. In adolescent girls who just started their period, a relative lack of progesterone (estrogen dominance) may be a contributory factor. A small dose (20mg to 30 mg) of bioidentical progesterone from day 6 to 16 of the menstrual cycle may help significantly in alleviating the symptoms of ADHD. You may need to consult a naturopathic doctor or anti-aging physician to get a prescription for that.
  5. If all of this helps only marginally, then a smaller amount of Ritalin may be helpful; however, blood tests should be drawn from time to time to monitor for drug toxicity as the rate of absorption and elimination of the drug varies significantly from patient to patient.

It is interesting that studies have shown that a combination of Ritalin or Adderall with alternative treatment methods had a better outcome than either method alone.

Conclusion

It is important to think about the various possible causes of ADHD and not just get caught up in the knee-jerk reflex of treating ADHD with Ritalin (note that this was only step 5 above, if all the other things failed). In co-operation with the school system and using alternative ways at home first (change of diet, possible addition of low dose bioidentical progesterone cream in girls) and additional tutoring in weak school subjects the need for Ritalin may be avoided. If all else fails, the conservative approach is still available, but I suggest that drug monitoring (blood levels that should be done from time to time to avoid toxicity) is important.

More information about ADHD: http://nethealthbook.com/mental-illness-mental-disorders/developmental-disorders/attention-deficithyperactivity-disorder/

References

1. Ferri: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor 2014, 1st ed., © 2013 Mosby.

2. Jacobson: Psychiatric Secrets, 2nd ed., © 2001 Hanley and Belfus

3. Dr. Datis Kharrazian: “Why Isn’t My Brain Working?” © 2013, Elephant Press, Carlsbad, CA 92011

4. David Perlmutter, MD: “Grain Brain. The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, And Sugar-Your Brain’s Silent Killers.” Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2013.

5. Daniel G. Amen: “Use Your Brain To Change Your Age” © 2012, Harmony Books, An imprint of Crown Publishing.

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014

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Dec
01
2004

Nuts To Bust Gallstones Says Harvard

Gallbladder problems rank fairly high among health problems in Canada: nearly 20% of women and 10% of men harbor gallstones.  According to the Canadian Liver Foundation certain racial groups have an even higher incidence: in the aboriginal population between 70 and 80% are affected. Statistics in the US would be similar.
Leaders in gallstone research at Harvard Medical School came up with new studies recently from the large scale Health Professional Follow-up and the Nurses Health study with respect to how eating habits influence the formation of gallstones.

Dr. Chung-Jyi Tsai and colleagues examined the relationship between nut consumption and the risk of gallstone disease. Men who consumed about 5 oz of nuts per week had a significant decrease in gallstone development than those who ate less than 1 oz per month. Women fared similarly. The 20-year study involving 80,718 female nurses found that women who consumed at least 5 oz of nuts per week had a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones requiring gall bladder surgery than those who rarely ate nuts or nut butter. It turned out that not all nuts have equal benefits. Peanuts decreased the risk only by 19%, peanut butter consumption decreased the risk by 15%, whereas other nuts lowered the risk for gallstones by 35%. Nuts offer this prevention due to a combination of fiber, unsaturated fatty acids, as well as magnesium and beneficial plant chemicals. Fats as “the good guys” in gallstone prevention may sound like a novel idea, but there are differences in fats: it is the monounsaturated fats and the polyunsaturated fats that are the winners. They are the ones that are found in nuts or vegetables, but not in meat.

Nuts To Bust Gallstones Says Harvard

Nuts To Bust Gallstones Says Harvard

The coauthor of the Harvard study, Dr. Edward Giovanucci, points out, that a diet that is high in saturated fat (the fat which prevails in meat products) and high in refined carbohydrates (bakery products, pasta, sugar) increases the risk of gallstones. It also depends on the dosage: those who consumed a diet high in insoluble fiber decreased the risk by 17%. So, what is the reason? Insoluble fiber acts like a broom that sweeps waste out of the intestinal tract faster than a diet that lacks fiber. It also reduces the bile acid secretion, increases insulin sensitivity and lowers triglycerides (harmful blood fat levels). The good news is, that you can get it all at a local supermarket. Nuts, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, whole grains like cracked wheat (as opposed to flour), beans, apples, berries and pears are all good and inexpensive sources.

For more info on gallstones: http://nethealthbook.com/digestive-system-and-gastrointestinal-disorders/gallbladder-disease/cholelithiasis/

Reference: National Review Of Medicine, November 30,2004, page 13

Last edited October 27, 2014

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