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Part i

Truth, More Truth, and Diet Failure

“Get the facts, or the facts will get you. And when you get them, get them right, or they will get you wrong.”
Dr. Thomas Fuller (1654—1734)


Fiber Madness or
Madness From Fiber?

While studying the history of Japanese cuisine, I came across a re­markable historical fact: in the name of Buddhism, which postu­lates strict vegetarianism, the Samurai class prohibited ordinary Japanese citizens from hunting, fishing, and keeping livestock. They didn’t, however, apply that prohibition to themselves. If you’re a fan of Akira Kurosawa’s movies, you must remember the striking visual re­sults of that social policy—huge, well-endowed, Samurai masters vs. diminutive, hunched peasants and servants, who subsisted mainly on rice.

Just like the powerful Samurai warriors, early humans flourished on abundant meats, fish, and seafood. This is apparent from look­ing at a human dental chart—protruding canines, razor-sharp inci­sors, rock-hard premolars, and massive molars are not exactly the imple­ments intended to slurp bananas. Had humans had an evolu­tionary predisposition for eating fibrous plants, their teeth would have evolved along the lines of sheep and cows, and we wouldn’t have be­come the canine-wielding predators that we really are.

If you continue analyzing the evolutionary functions of each diges­tive organ, you’ll find the same pattern: the functionality of each organ matches the specific food group: the mouth to macerate and masticate flesh; the stomach to ferment and digest proteins; the duodenum (the first section of small intestine) to mix chyme with en­zymes and absorb water; the gallbladder to store bile needed to break down and assimilate fats; the jejunum and ileum (the last two sections of small intestine) to complete digestion of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and absorb their basic components (amino acids, fatty acids, monosaccharides); the large intestine to recover remaining water, nutrients, and electrolytes, convert liquid chyme to semi-solid stools, and expel them.

If you interfere with this natural order by matching each organ with the wrong food group or specific constituent, the organs will eventually get dysfunctional for the same reason a luxury car may stall on cheap, regular gas—they aren't meant for each other. So to keep the digestive organs functional (i.e. healthy), you should pair them with foods that match their functionality (the stomach with pro­teins, small intestine with digestible carbohydrates, gallbladder with fats, and so forth). Otherwise...

Otherwise, if you feed cows with meat, first they get mad (the con­dition is called “mad cow disease”), and then they die. If you feed humans with only carbohydrates and fiber, first they get bloated, then emaciated and mad (the condition is called maras­mus, which means a physical and mental wasting from protein-en­ergy mal­nutrition, or PEM [1]) and then they die too. It just takes longer be­cause, unlike cows, humans are omnivorous, and can, for a while, sub­sist on a carbohydrate-only diet.

That’s why we raise cows for meat and dairy rather than just graz­ing on the greenest pastures ourselves. And that’s why fiber is a rela­tively new phenomenon in human nutrition. As little as a few hun­dred years ago—an eye blink on the evolutionary timeline—peo­ple couldn’t consume fiber because there were no industrial mills, no stainless steel grinders, and no high-temperature ovens to convert (process) what is really livestock feed into foodstuff fit for human consumption.

Nutrients Reference Lookup

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Since we now can mill, grind, and bake fiber with the push of a button, its advocates may argue that it’s suitable for people, but the simple fact that humans don’t have digestive enzymes to break down fiber inside the intestines speaks volumes for itself. Hence, for anyone who aspires to remain healthy, adapting to evolutionary reali­ties is far more practical than to wait for evolution to adapt to one­self.

Some people attempt to cheat evolution with digestive aids, such as Beano®, but even a fistful of Beanos can’t change the goings on in­side one’s mouth, stomach, and intestines. Besides, breaking down fiber into glucose with factory-made enzymes may prevent bloating and flatulence, but only at the expense of even more weight gain and related metabolic disorders from digesting even more carbohy­drates.

Other people, upon hearing that fiber is a menace, assume an igno­rant or naive posture: “I (we, they) eat plenty of fiber and noth­ing happens, therefore everything you say is nonsense.” Well, if you smoke, abuse alcohol, cheat on taxes, or run red lights, noth­ing hap­pens for a while, either. That’s exactly why fiber is so insidi­ously and maddeningly menacing. After reading the next three chapters you’ll be able to make your own judgment on just how menacing it really is:


1Protein-Energy Malnutrition; The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy; 17th ed,; Section 1, ch. 2; [link]