Q&A About Fiber Menace
Considering what you've been hearing from all quarters for so long, dropping fiber from your diet may be a serious concern. To help you along, here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about this subject and Fiber Menace. They range from its veracity in questioning fiber's role in nutrition to Katie Couric's opinion about colon cancer, and everything in between.
Q. Give me ten reasons why should I read Fiber Menace?
Imagine feeding a rare white tiger a high-fiber diet because it curbs the tiger‘s natural aggression and makes it safer for handlers. Though the motive may be admirable, this diet will quickly kill the tiger, and that‘s something no zoo can afford.
Thus, unconstrained by human nutritional dogmas, zookeepers simply observe tigers in the wild, and feed them accordingly. Lo and behold, most captive animals live close to their natural age limits, while their human captors barely manage to last two-thirds of their allotted life span.
Less fiber may not help you celebrate your 100th birthday, or turn you into a tiger — but living a long, healthy life free from flab, pain, drugs, and degenerative diseases may not be such a bad deal, either. If that‘s what you are after, here are the top ten reasons why you should read Fiber Menace:
1. To learn why dietary fiber causes chronic digestive disorders and irreversible colorectal damage — even though your menu choices, conventionally speaking, may be impeccable.
2. To protect your body from accelerated aging and degenerative diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, or atherosclerosis — all of which stem from digestive and endocrine disorders caused by fiber consumption.
3. To get off lifestyle medicines used to manage common digestive complaints, caused or made worse by fiber, such as heartburn (GERD), gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, and constipation.
4. To save a bundle of money otherwise spent on drugs, co-pays, and deductibles to treat digestive disorders related to fiber consumption.
5. To withstand the enormous pressure coming from all quarters to conform to the one century-and-a-half old medical doctrine regarding the 'health benefits' of fiber. If you study morbidity charts, so far the increased consumption of fiber has brought neither 'health' nor 'benefits.'
6. To avoid becoming a victim of medical error. Acute digestive disorders related to the consumption of fiber — such as appendicitis, ulcers, cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder), intestinal obstructions, hernias, and ulcerative colitis — are the leading causes of hospitalization and surgical intervention among people under fifty. Sadly, you‘re six times more likely to die from a medical error while hospitalized than from getting killed in a car accident.
7. To speed up your recovery from most medical conditions by simply improving the quality and efficiency of your digestion. Even supplements are useless when their assimilation is blocked by the ill effects of fiber on the stomach and intestines.
8. To improve your appearance, vitality, and outlook by getting rid of the chronic abdominal pain, bloating, and flatulence caused by fiber, and the side effects of drugs used to treat the underlying digestive disorders.
9. To maintain a stable weight. If you‘re overweight, this book will empower you to lose weight without failure and side effects. If you are underweight (because of diabetes, digestive, or eating disorders) this book will help you to regain your weight.
10. To teach your family, friends, and associates the elements of prudent nutrition. Nothing improves the quality of one‘s life as much as a healthy family and happy work environment.
Finally, once you accept all of the above, there are also important practical considerations. Just as with caffeine or nicotine, fiber is an addictive substance, and it won‘t let you out of its “deadly embrace” without putting up a tough fight. To prevent a “hard landing” from fiber withdrawal, you're better off learning how to get weaned off of it in advance.
Q. Is this book really for me, and not my doctor? What if I am okay?
It's best to read this book while you are still young, healthy, and vibrant. If you're no longer young, but still healthy, your risk of getting hit with digestive disorders caused by fiber grows exponentially. You may as well get to know fiber “up close and personal” before it has the chance to harm you.
If you‘re already affected by diabetes, obesity, digestive, or colorectal disorders, you‘re living proof of fiber‘s menace. I believe, however, there isn‘t anything wrong with you, but with what you've been eating all along. If your problems haven‘t yet convinced you of that, hopefully reading Fiber Menace will.
If you‘re a committed vegetarian, the odds of remaining a “healthy vegetarian” are about as good as beating Russian roulette. I was one myself, and it was fine for a while; I accepted all of the pros, and I dismissed all of the cons. That‘s human nature. If you still prefer a vegetarian diet, reduce the fiber content in your diet so you‘ll be able to enjoy your lifestyle longer. This book will tell you why.
Finally, Fiber Menace is a must-read for anyone who is responsible — directly or by example — for other people‘s health (especially children and seniors). Here's a list of people who would benefit from learning from it:
Doctors. Medical doctors enjoy reverence and respect from the general public. For this and other good reasons, physicians exert an extraordinary influence over patients‘ choices regarding health as well as disease. In addition, doctors and their families are affected by the same plagues that affect their patients. I believe doctors genuinely want to see their patients and themselves get well, and this book may help them achieve this goal. In no way is Fiber Menace anti-doctor, anti-medicine, or anti-establishment. On the contrary, it acknowledges the crucial role of doctors in diagnosing and treating disease. But nutrition isn‘t a clinical discipline, and you shouldn‘t expect doctors to teach you when, how, and what to eat — just as you don‘t expect a chef in a restaurant to wait on you.
Nurses. The real brunt of patient care falls on the shoulders of nurses. It‘s my belief that nursing is one of the most honorable and esteemed professions a person can undertake. I myself couldn‘t do it. If you‘re a nurse, particularly in the ICU, pediatric, oncology, genitourinary, or gerontological fields, the application of this book will have a great impact on your work, because it may substantially reduce some of the most troubling and difficult conditions you treat. I‘m speaking of diarrhea, constipation, fecal impaction, intestinal obstruction, nausea, and vomiting. That‘s in addition to speeding up patient recovery, reducing post-surgical complications, and improving the mental outlook of patients.
Nutritionists and dietitians. If you‘re up in arms about this book and boiling over just from reading its title, I ask you to please read Fiber Menace without prejudice. Check out the same sources that I did, and then judge it on its merits, rather than on your first impression. I believe after reading this book you‘ll come to the same conclusions as I did. Remember, I didn‘t set out to write it because I was a healthy and vibrant vegetarian, but because a high-fiber, high-carb diet almost killed me.
Parents and grandparents. Children, particularly infants and toddlers, are damaged by fiber more than any other age group, because their digestive organs are small and undeveloped. If fiber can cause irritable bowel syndrome in over 40 million adult Americans, imagine how ruinous it is for little kids.
Medical researchers and scientists. Please approach the findings in this book with an open mind. You have the power to shape the attitudes that will help millions of people improve their health. Your health, too.
Teachers. Healthy students are good students, and good students reflect well on great teachers. Kids who enjoy a low-carb, low-fiber diet don‘t suffer from attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders, and don‘t ruin the atmosphere of your class. Everyone wins.
Public health officials in federal, state, and local governments. Diseases cost money. When the average life span was under 50, fiber was okay. With the average life span today approaching 80, fiber means treating tens of millions of obese and diabetic individuals until they die from heart attack, strokes, or cancer. (And, in between, treating chronic GERD, ulcers, IBS, colitis, and Crohn‘s.) Medicaid is bankrupting the states already, and Medicare is breaking the Treasury. Less fiber will not solve all of these problems, but it‘s a good start.
Insurance executives. Fiber in the diets of your clients erodes your profits. For the sake of your shareholders and your own bonuses, read this book and laugh all the way to the bank.
Business owners. The money for medical insurance and disability premiums is coming out of your own pockets. The money for lost productivity, absenteeism, and employee turnover is coming from your own pocket. Your business is as good as your staff's health. And your own, too. If I were a business owner worth my salt, I would make Fiber Menace mandatory reading for all of my employees. From all of the investments you can make, the investment in the health and well-being of your employees — a backbone of any enterprise — would be the least expensive and the most rewarding endeavor.
Congressman and Senators. Honorable People's Representatives: You are the ones signing the checks for hundreds of billions of dollars wasted on health care for self-inflicted diseases. Deal with this issue now, and you won‘t have to raise taxes later. You'll have more money left for other important projects. Please protect your constituents from this plague!
The list is far from all-inclusive, but it‘s representative. If you aren‘t on the list, but still believe in the benefits of fiber, this book is for you, too.
Q. Does this site repeat Fiber Menace?
No, it doesn‘t at all, except when noted! This site expands on Fiber Menace with practical advice related to colorectal disorders caused by fiber and dysbacteriosis. It also provides additional background information, answers frequently asked questions, and provides detailed information about supplements, recommended to overcome fiber dependence and reverse related colorectal damages.
Some of the materials on this site are excerpted from my forthcoming book entitled Gut Sense: How To Reverse Bowel Diseases And Escape Colon Cancer. This book takes up where Fiber Menace left off to answer questions, as presented in the subtitle. I started working on Gut Sense in 2003, and have been researching and writing it along with my other projects ever since.
Q. But what if you are still dead wrong about fiber?
It's not like I am asking you to jump off a cliff, am I? Continue “enjoying” fiber, and if and when all kind of problems will pop up after a colonoscopy or whatever, just consult the list of fiber-related disorders on the right. To find this site in the future, please create the “I told you so” folder in your browser's Favorites list, and bookmark this site.
Q. Why isn't my doctor telling me about your approach if it is so simple and effective?
The answers to this question are complex, and range from philosophical to practical. I go into them in greater depth in my book, and here, and here. Still, there is a common thread to all these answers:
First, it's true, that after you have read about my approach here, it appears simple and obvious. But so do paper clips, microwave ovens, cell phones, and all the other “simple and obvious” things after someone else has developed them.
Second, your doctor simply doesn‘t know about this approach yet because it wasn't written up in the medical journals or taught in medical schools and continuous medical education (CME) courses. Refer your doctors to this website, so they don't have to wait.
Third, doctors are trained to use conservative—which literally means “resistant to change”, “old-fashioned”—treatment protocols based on drugs, tests, and invasive procedures. It takes just a few minutes to prescribe a drug, test, or procedure that matches your symptoms. But a physiological approach, such as this, takes time to learn, and even more time to explain to uninitiated patients. That‘s not what doctors commonly do, or are allowed to do by the freakonomics of medical business.
Fourth, according to this article (Training Daze, Why do doctors fixate on diagnosis, not treatment? by Dr. Darshak Sanghavi, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School), physicians in the United States are notoriously shy on treatments. Interestingly, this article refers to www.UpToDate.com as “the cookbook for medical treatment[s]." I reviewed several selected recommendations for treating common colorectal disorders, and found them not just out of date with already published research in the field of clinical gastroenterology, but also exceptionally damaging to patients. In essence, you are better off ignored by a backward hack than overtreated by an enthusiastic, take-charge, and well-intended specialist, who relies on this outdated resource.
Finally, medical doctors are trained and paid for to take care of acute conditions. What‘s happening in the privacy of your own kitchen or bathroom isn‘t your doctors‘ business until an ambulance takes you to a hospital. If you expect otherwise, you may as well quit this page, update your will, and hedge your bets by investing in a prepaid funeral.
If all this still surprises you, I recommend reading How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman, M.D., a prominent professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. When Dr. Groopman describes his first disastrous encounter with a critical patient, he explains that he ran into problems because he was actually thinking about what he should do, rather than reacting instinctively.
He doesn‘t directly answer the question “how doctors think?” raised in the title, but after reading his book cover to cover, the answer is self-evident — doctors are trained not to think, but to react. So if that‘s what guides routine diagnostics and medical advice — a reaction — then don‘t be surprised to hear more of the same: irregularity—fiber, IBS—fiber, constipation—more fiber, or what is aptly called “a knee-jerk reaction” to a common stimuli, in this case a patient complaint.
As an aside, Dr. Groopman‘s account of his disastrous travails to obtain treatment for his own medical problems is really something. Think about it: if a professor of medicine at an elite University — with access to the top medical minds in the country, and whose wife is also a prominent physician in her own right — ended up having unnecessary procedures, suffered pain for years, and was repeatedly misdiagnosed for obvious conditions, then what are your chances?
How Doctors Think was one of the scariest health-related books I have read in a long time, and I am not one who gets scared easily. I was also shocked to the core by the astounding gullibility of Dr. Groopman and his physician-wife, whose blind trust in the “top doctors” myth has resulted in so much misery.
I realize these answers may not completely satisfy you, but there it is, so deal with it. Otherwise, wait until a few years from now when your smiling doctor will hand you a booklet with the verbatim description of my approach, except by that time you'll be facing even more hardship than today.
Q. But I am still scared to get off fiber. What should I do?
That's okay— it's a human nature to be afraid. Talk to your family physician, talk to GI specialists. Ask them to review Fiber Menace and the information on this site. Both are thoroughly referenced. Both rely on mainstream sources of medical information and textbooks approved for doctors and medical students in the United States.
Your doctor won‘t find anything objectionable in my book or on this site, or anything that contradicts the tenets of mainstream allopathic or naturopathic medicine. The only things that are missing here are the style of writing and jargon, typical for medical journals and references. (Well, some may object to occasional puns and pictures, but I poke fun at myself just as much as at everyone else. In other words, I am dead serious, but would rather not bore you to death. Also, give me credit: writing so prolifically about stools without once resorting to bathroom humor is an art in itself.)
Medical doctors love to learn new treatment methods. When you feel well, your doctor feels well too, and gets more referrals from grateful patients. Don‘t be embarrassed or shy to discuss this approach with your doctor. Nowadays, doctors are no longer freaking out when patients show up with reams of Internet printouts because they themselves research the Internet just like you and I do.
This site and my book contain more up-to-date information about the harms of fiber than any other available source. Your doctor will appreciate learning this unique information because similar problems confront doctors themselves, their spouses, their children, their parents, and their other patients just as much. I know for a fact that many people read my book and this site on the recommendation of their doctor, so neither is 'radioactive.'
Finally, doctors are people too, and they hate to deal with someone else‘s stale stools—particularly before and after a lunch, dinner, or date. Doctors nowadays don‘t even have viable drugs to prescribe for the non-infectious side effects of fiber consumption. The last two—Propulsid and Zelnorm—were yanked from the market by the FDA, Zelnorm just recently. Do you recall those nice smiling people with Zs written across their flattened bellies in Zelnorm‘s TV commercials? Well, some of them are already smiling in heaven. And it wasn‘t a Zorro‘s sword that sent them there, but 'conservative' treatment with presumably a 'safe' drug. What a farce...
I realize you may find that this answer contradicts my answer to the previous question, but that's the whole point — doctors in the United States are the best trained, the hardest-working, and probably the smartest in the world. Unfortunately, the system that trained and rewarded them is so out-of-date and out of touch that they themselves are becoming victimized by it, just as badly as the rest of us. But thanks to the Internet, a disgraceful medical orthodoxy will soon become a thing of the past. This evolution will be driven by a new generation of doctors, who are no longer limited to acquiring new skills from references, textbooks, slick 'academic' journals, and CME courses produced, subsidized, or owned by Big Pharma.
As far as the “what should you do?” part of this question, I may only suggest this: study (don't simply read, but study) this site, study Fiber Menace, and talk to a doctor you feel comfortable with. Then, try it. Observe how well you feel, and how well your body functions. From this point on, it's either success breeds success, or return to your previous diet.
And always keep this in mind—fiber is an indigestible substance and fiber has zero nutritional value. In this respect, staying off fiber for a few weeks or even few months will impact you just as much as changing from Coke to Pepsi. In other words, if you are still alive with all that fiber inside your gut, a few weeks or a few months without it aren't going to kill you either.
Q. I am confused about what I should eat?
Here is what Fiber Menace recommends for people who do not have any prior digestive disorders:
“If your daily consumption of fiber exceeds 15 g, first identify those foods that have the highest fiber content in your diet. These are usually processed foods, such as anything with “bran” in it, cereals, whole-wheat bread, muffins, bagels, and the like. Ideally, you shouldn‘t eat these, because nutritionally speaking, all processed foods are unwholesome, loaded with carbs, and hard to digest..
If you aren‘t inclined to make any changes in your diet, at least replace high-fiber food with low-fiber analogues: corn flakes instead of fiber-fortified cereals, white bread instead of whole wheat, regular muffins instead of bran muffins, green peas instead of lentils, pine nuts instead of peanuts, zucchini instead of broccoli, and so on.”
That's all there is to it. I don't recommend anything radical or extravagant. If someone tells you that I do, they aren't familiar with my book.
If you already have some preexisting disorder(s), I recommend that you follow all of the above guides and read Fiber Menace for more background and details. The book recommends a balanced low-fiber diet, no different from what most people eat anyway. The book may recommend that you don‘t eat wheat bread if you are allergic to gluten, or avoid dairy if you are sensitive to lactose, or that you further reduce fiber consumption if you have acute diverticular disease—but it's all common sense, not “medical” advice.
Q. Where do I find the fiber content of common food?
There are close to 40,000 food items on supermarket shelves. By law, each of them must have a prominent Food Facts label. And by the same law, this label indicates the exact fiber content per serving. Read the labels—that's all you need to do to determine the fiber content.
If you would like to learn the total nutrient content (i.e. water, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, ash, vitamins, minerals, microelements) of most popular foods before leaving your house for the supermarket, just visit our Nutrient Reference Lookup page that is based on the data derived from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. It‘s a great resource.
Q. I went to my doctor, and he told me that if I stop taking fiber, he'll drop me as a patient because he can't take these risks.
I doubt that very much! It's quite possible that your doctor may have told you that following the suggestions in my book “it‘s a risk I wouldn't take myself”, or that “I don't know if I'll be able to help you if you run into problems.” But that's a normal reaction, because your doctor isn't familiar with my book, and has no obligation to you or anyone else to study or follow it.
Unfortunately, some patients may interpret this explicit and reasonable response as an implicit threat, when actually it isn't. That's why I said I doubted it. No sane medical professional will risk his or her license, reputation, and livelihood over a patient's stool size.
If you really wish to get unambiguous advice, then educate your doctor first, following the approaches suggested in prior answers.