Heart Disease - Cancer - Diabetes
1. They are the three biggest killers in industrialized nations. In the United States; heart disease, cancer, and adult onset diabetes (in that order) are the three most common causes of death.
2. Medical research has shown that all three diseases are to a large extent preventable.
3. Research has confirmed that insufficient dietary fiber is a major contributor to all three!
Fiber, or roughage, is the undigestable part of the plants we eat. It provides the "bulk" necessary for our digestive tracts to function normally. We often take fiber for grantedthinking that as long as we are not constipated, we are getting enough of it. That is a dangerous fallacy.
A recent medical study concluded that "If we could increase the per capita consumption of fiber by 13 grams, the risk of colorectal cancer in the U.S. would decrease by 31%." That translates to two lives saved every hour! Other forms of cancer have also been shown to be related to a low intake of dietary fiberincluding breast cancer, which will strike one out of every nine women in the U.S.
Fiber absorbs or binds with harmful fats, cholesterol, and toxins in the digestive tract, helping to carry them out of the body. It helps control the appetite which is good news for weight watchers. Fiber also helps the body regulate blood sugar levels more effectively.
Most of the fiber has been removed from our foods by modern processing methods. For example, when whole wheat flour is "refined" to white flour, nearly all of the fiber is removed (along with many other nutrients including most of the B vitamins and key minerals like magnesium.) We also tend to eat too many foods that are poor sources of fiber; including "junk foods," foods high in sugar and overcooked foods.
In some societies, such as traditional societies in Africa, the people eat seven times the amount of fiber as those of us in the industrialized nations. Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are nearly non-existent in those societies.
What Can We Do to Increase Our Fiber Intake?
Diet: A proper diet should include plenty of fruits and vegetables. These supply fiber as well as other vitamins and minerals that are needed to keep us healthy. (For more on healthy eating see our Dietary Guidelines.)
Supplementation: Because most of us will never achieve an ideal diet, fiber supplementation should be considered. Psyllium hulls have proven to be the best source of supplemental fiber.
Psyllium seeds are small, dull-colored seeds covered with a thin white hull. They contain 10-30% mucilage. This mucilage lubricates and cleanses the areas through which it passes. The seeds have been used in Europe for intestinal health since the 16th century, but did not catch on in the U.S. until the early 1900s.
Psyllium has the highest level of soluble fiber knownmore than eight times that of oat bran. When placed in water, psyllium swells up to 14 times its original size and forms a mucilaginous type of fiber that is very beneficial to the entire digestive tract. It helps both constipation and diarrhea.
As an all-natural vegetable substance, psyllium's purely mechanical action to promote health and provide bulk fiber in the diet is unsurpassed. Psyllium has no harmful chemical side effectsjust pure food fiber.
Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
See also Lesson on the Intestinal System