Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Importance of Dietary Fiber

Past food-processing techniques focused on eliminating fiber, considering it unnecessary and difficult to digest. Now, fiber is recognized as useful in preventing and treating such ailments as diabetes, obesity, and cancer.

A British scholar first addressed the importance of dietary fiber after realizing that the English suffer a higher incidence of colon cancer than Africans do. He noted that an English person's average daily stool quantity was 110 grams, and it took 45 to 60 hours for the excretion to pass through their colons. In contrast, Africans had average daily stool quantity of 200 grams for urban dwellers, 300 grams for rural people, and their stool took 30 to 40 hours to pass through their colons. He found that saprogenous bacillus existed largely in English stool, while African stool contained more beneficial bacteria. The reason: the Africans' greater amount of vegetable intake gave them more fiber, which reduced their chances of colon cancer.

Fiber is an excellent internal cleanser. It absorbs and removes harmful waste products and poisonous materials, while reducing cholesterol and heavy metal levels. Fiber absorbs water like a sponge, and adheres to digestive tracks, which reduces digestion duration. This cuts the time carcinogens stay inside the body.

According to a study at Washington University, lab mice with large fiber intake were less likely to develop cancer, even when injected with carcinogens: 39% of the mice fed a large quantity of fiber developed cancer, compared to 69% of those not fed fiber.

Your colon contains approximately one hundred types of bacterium, with a total of about a hundred trillion bacteria. Such beneficial bacteria as lactobacillus or lactobacillus bifidus thrive on fiber in the colon, thus retarding the growth of harmful bacteria. They dissolve fiber to make vitamins and amino acids.

Fiber can be obtained through vegetables, whole grains, marine plants, and mushrooms, but not through most processed food. And more fiber is obtained by eating raw food and fruits with rinds than through cooked food.