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High Fibre Diet is essential - its importance cannot be overstated

Written by Dr Gifford-Jones
Provided by Sun Media

Monday, December 1, 2003

Recently a patient, who is extremely health conscious, asked, "If you had to pick the most important food, what would you choose?" I replied, "fibre." I've believed for years that fibre is the corner stone of a healthy diet and without adequate amounts people are headed for a variety of health problems.

The National Academies' Institute of Medicine formulates dietary recommendations for the government. It recently reported that the average North American consumes only 14 to 15 grams of fibre a day. This is a failing grade as it's less than half of what people should be eating.

Fibre's primary benefit never crosses the minds of most people. Fibre is bulky and therefore filling. Years ago, my father-in-law called it "roughage" and swore by it. You can drink a cola loaded with eight teaspoons of sugar but it has practically no effect on deadening the hunger reflex. However, eat one apple containing 3.3 grams of fibre and you rarely need a second.

The consumption of fibre is, therefore, one of the first steps to controlling weight. There simply isn't enough room left for all the other snacks you shouldn't eat. And maintenance of normal weight is a major step in circumventing heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and a variety of degenerative problems.

This fact isn't rocket science or anything new. History has numerous examples of the benefits of fibre. Dr. Denis Burkitt, a British researcher, showed that African natives who consumed large amounts of fibre did not suffer from constipation, appendicitis or large bowel problems.

During Britain's war with France in the 18th century, food was scarce. The British parliament passed a law designed to stretch the supply of grain. This meant that 80,000 English soldiers ate bread from unbolted flour. Army physicians noted that the health of the troops improved.

Most people remember the battleship King George V for chasing Germany's battleship The Bismark. But the history books fail to mention that constipation was rampant among the sailors. Their ship's surgeon Captain T. L. Cleave was also constipated and he hated to take laxatives.

Faced with this situation, Cleave decided to experiment on himself. For several days, he consumed raw, unprocessed bran. It cured his and, eventually, his sailors' constipation.

All these people were doing what Hippocrates had preached in 400 B.C. But as has been aptly said, "The only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history." His sage advice to the people of Athens was to keep healthy they must always have bulky bowel movements. He suggested they consume whole bread, fruits and vegetables.

In my office I know immediately if patients are getting sufficient fibre. During rectal examination those with insufficient dietary fibre have small hard stools. Those eating large amounts of fibre have large, bulky stools as soft as toothpaste.

The best way to start the day is with a high-fibre cereal. It's hard to beat All-Bran. Just one-third of a cup contains 10 grams of fibre. It would take nearly four cups of Cheerios to get the same amount of fibre!

High-fibre bread is hard to find. Don't be fooled by labels. Look for the words "whole wheat" and it should contain two grams of fibre per slice. Those labeled "multigrain" or "wheat" may contain little or no fibre.

To boost your fibre content further, add lentils, black beans, green peas, pears, bananas, prunes, broccoli, tomatoes, celery and roasted almonds to your diet. Fibre supplements can be taken, but it's better to obtain fibre from food.

I've suggested in earlier columns that fibre reduces constipation thereby decreasing the risk of colon cancer. Foods remaining in the bowel harbour cancer-containing compounds. The longer they're left in contact with the intestinal wall, the greater the chance of malignancy. Some recent studies question this theory, however.

But no one has ever proven that fibre is bad for you. It's best to add it to the diet slowly as it may cause bloating and gas. And remember if your stools never float, you're not getting enough fibre.

What happened to Captain Cleave? He should have been awarded a Nobel Prize. But he became known as "The Bran Man" and the subject of ridicule.

Recommended food FIBRE from Osumex

Concentrated Natural Flax Hulls is a very good dietary fibre as it contains both soluble and insoluble fibres. It is totally natural and suitable for vegetarians as well as "raw foods" practitioners. In addition the Flax Hulls provide you with the recommended daily value of Vitamin B12. At the same time they contain lignans, which are great immune system boosters, reduces free radical activity in the body and support the prevention of prostate, bowel and breast cancers. Used with LB17 "live" probiotic will ensure that the lignans are absorbed efficiently by the body and helps reduce gas and bloating usually associated with a high fibre diet.

See below for a sample of Fortified Flax Hulls (1st pic) and Flax Hulls (2nd pic)

Each jar contains 180gm of fortified flax hulls or 150gm of flax hulls

The above information is provided for general educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace competent health care advice received from a knowledgeable healthcare professional. You are urged to seek healthcare advice for the treatment of any illness or disease.
Health Canada and the FDA (USA) have not evaluated these statements. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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