All the Proof You Need
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
George Bernard Shaw (1856—1950)
The Fiber Menace Gets Real
Conceivably, an experienced medical writer can write about anything related to health and medicine. The amount of information—textbooks, physicians’ references, academic research, clinical and epidemiological data—is infinite, and it’s yours for the taking in the libraries and on the Internet.
Predictably, a book about dietary fiber based on all of those sources would recommend more fiber, more water, and more exercise, because that’s what the consensus is among the top clinical, academic, and public health researchers.Why, then, would someone write a book that calls fiber a menace and declares it a threat to public health—the complete opposite of mainstream opinion?
The answer is: because it is! And I have the first-hand knowledge of it not from studying medical publications, but from years of pain and suffering caused by progressively worsening irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, hemorrhoidal disease, and anal fissures. None of them came from poor health, lack of medical care, or misfortune, but from a high-fiber diet, recommended by well-intentioned physicians.
So I knew from the get-go that fiber-related complications would be a tough nut to crack. But it was only after I began researching and writing about it that I came to realize just how complicated, multifaceted, and challenging this problem really is, especially when all of the “aggravating” aspects are factored in—age, health, gender, occupation, medications, ethnicity, even one’s character. In a nutshell, what I learned during the years of hardship, recovery, and research into this subject, is this:
- At one point or another, anyone may experience costiveness (large, hard stools) or constipation (irregular stools). There are many reasons behind these conditions, ranging from bad parenting to bad poisoning, from too much fiber to too little fat, and everything in between. Whenever external factors compromise bowel movement, the normal bacteria inside the large intestine are the first to suffer. Because these bacteria make up the bulk of normal stools, once they’re gone, stools become harder and irregular. Chapter 4, Dysbacteriosis, describes the sorry travails of these hard-working little bugs, deciphers the events that precede their demise, and explains their connection to health, longevity, and disease.
- After the bacteria are gone, fiber enters the picture to replace their function. For a while, it works as advertised. Fiber makes stools larger and not as hard, and the problems appear to be gone. Unfortunately, this is merely calm before calamity: “normality” comes not from restoring the body’s natural clockwork, but from replacing it with an outside bulking agent; essentially, a laxative. For a while, the problems are hidden because you don’t yet feel them. Chapter 5, Constipation,describes the transition through the three phases of fiber-dependence that accompanies the functional (reversible), latent (hidden), and organic (irreversible, only manageable) stages of constipation.
- Here comes the reckoning: large stools and the straining needed to expel them wear out and damage the small, taut and extremely delicate anal canal. Enlarged hemorrhoids are the first signs of trouble. As hemorrhoids get larger, the anal canal opening gets smaller, and constipation gets worse. When that happens, most people add more fiber to their diets. Naturally, the stools get even larger, the anal canal opening even smaller, and the constipation more severe than ever. Chapter 6, Hemorrhoidal Disease,describes the role of fiber in the pathogenesis and evolution of this disorder, which afflicts up to half of all adult Americans. That’s close to the same number of people who became overweight on high-carb, high-fiber diets. What goes around, comes around.
- As we get older, the muscles, bones, eyes, and hearing all grow weaker. The large intestine is no exception. If, by the age of 50, up to half of Americans are affected by hemorrhoidal disease, by the age of 60 up to half are affected by diverticular disease, which is an irreversible bulging of the large intestine. There is only one force that can make the intestinal walls bulge out: large stools. There is only one food component that can cause them: dietary fiber. Chapter 7, Diverticular Disease, explains why this happens, what you can do to prevent it, or how to make the condition benign if you already have it. Trust me, you don’t want to experience the complications.
- The combined impact of dysbacteriosis, a fiber-rich diet, laxatives, constipation, and hemorrhoids (not necessarily all of them or in that order), brings along yet another torment—irritable bowel syndrome. It is a functional condition, which means that it’s completely reversible. The problem is that everyone tries to reverse it with more fiber and more drugs, rather than with less fiber and bacterial supplements. Chapter 8, Irritable Bowel Syndrome,explains why up to 60 million Americans “can’t get no relief,” and how many of them set themselves up for what’s addressed in Chapter 9.
- Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are considered irreversible conditions, points of no return. Sure they are, as long as they’re treated with even more fiber, even more antibiotics, even more immunodepressants, even more antispasmodics, and even more laxatives. After you finish reading Chapter 9, Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, you, too, will be scratching your head in disbelief. If, God forbid, you suffer from one of these conditions, you’ll know what to do to turn back the tide. If you do nothing, ulcerative colitis increases the chances of your getting colorectal cancer by 3,200%.
- Think about it: according to this book, dietary fiber is the primary cause of ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis increases the chances of getting colon cancer a great many times over. To prevent colon cancer, you’re being told to consume more fiber. Well, hope springs eternal, as they say. Chapter 10, Colon Cancer,reviews recent research data that tells the unwelcome truth: fiber does little or nothing to prevent colon cancer, and may actually contribute to colon cancer. This research doesn’t come from the bowels of the Internet, but from some of the most distinguished medical publications and establishments out there, such as The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The National Cancer Institute, The World Health Organization, and the like.
It simply can’t be so, right? Well, keep reading!