Old school friends use to complain, “I'm fat,” and slap their hands over their distended bellies. I explained to them how fiber could help them lose weight, lose the belly, and have tons more energy, which only earned me some interesting nicknames.
In the article below, scientists are still puzzled at how fiber works its magic when it comes to lowering blood cholesterol and cutting cardiovascular disease in half. They think it coaxes cholesterol out of the blood preventing plaque build up. Others could deduct that when the colon is swept out, it frees up the liver to carry out its duties like regulating blood cholesterol, and processing and manufacturing its own. Many on high fiber and colon cleansing diets claim more energy, that they snap out of bed earlier. It's because when the colon is clear, the liver says to the intestines, “Gardaloo!* Here comes the junk!” A decongested liver means greater energy, it can now fight toxins and process fat.
Many natural health practitioners hold fiercely that all health, especially liver function (which controls blood cholesterol), begins in the colon. One I know is dead serious when he says, “The road to health is paved with good intestines.” Hard not to laugh, but truer words were never spoken.
A new study from Northwestern Medicine shows a high-fiber diet could be a critical heart-healthy lifestyle change young and middle-aged adults can make. The study found adults between 20 and 59 years old with the highest fiber intake had a significantly lower estimated lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease compared to those with the lowest fiber intake.
The study will be presented today at the American Heart Association’s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention Scientific Sessions 2011 in Atlanta, Ga. This is the first known study to show the influence of fiber consumption on the lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease.
“It’s long been known that high-fiber diets can help people lose weight, lower cholesterol and improve hypertension,” said Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, M.D., corresponding author of the study and chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “The results of this study make a lot of sense because weight, cholesterol and hypertension are major determinants of your long-term risk for cardiovascular disease.”
A high-fiber diet falls into the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 25 grams of dietary fiber or more a day. Lloyd-Jones said you should strive to get this daily fiber intake from whole foods, not processed fiber bars, supplements and drinks.
“A processed food may be high in fiber, but it also tends to be pretty high in sodium and likely higher in calories than an apple, for example, which provides the same amount of fiber,” Lloyd-Jones said.
In another Harvard Male Health Professionals study, researchers found that men who ate a high-fiber diet could cut their risk of suffering a heart attack by almost half, according to results published in the February 14, 1996 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
How fiber works its magic still isn't clear, but scientists suspect that it coaxes the body to take more cholesterol out of the blood, preventing it from forming plaques in the arteries and causing heart disease.
In the Northwestern Medicine study, Hongyan Ning, M.D., lead author and a statistical analyst in the department of preventive medicine at Feinberg, examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative sample of about 11,000 adults.
Ning considered diet, blood pressure, total cholesterol, smoking status and history of diabetes in survey participants and then used a formula to predict lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease.
“The results are pretty amazing,” Ning said. “Younger (20 to 39 years) and middle-aged (40 to 59 years) adults with the highest fiber intake, compared to those with the lowest fiber intake, showed a statistically significant lower lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease.”
In adults 60 to 79 years, dietary fiber intake was not significantly associated with a reduction in lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease. It’s possible that the beneficial effect of dietary fiber may require a long period of time to achieve, and older adults may have already developed significant risk for heart disease before starting a high-fiber diet, Ning said.
As for young and middle-aged adults, now is the time to start making fiber a big part of your daily diet, Ning said.
“The study suggests that starting a high-fiber diet now may help improve your long-term risk,” Ning said.
*Gardaloo was a medieval shout to people in the streets below, when warning them you were emptying your previous night's chamber pot out the window.