What is The Truth About Fiber High Foods?
The truth is, fiber high foods when you are on the ketogenic diet……NOT required!
Wait a minute you say! This is the opposite of what we have all heard for so long.
Before we clear all this up, let us begin with the basics:
What do we know about fiber? Carbs equal simple sugars, yet a complex mix of carbohydrates is fiber. The most common carbohydrates include glucose, fructose, and galactose. When we start adding those molecules together, we can get a string of carbohydrates that do not break down in our human gut. This is fiber.
FACT: Your body does not require carbohydrates and they are NOT essential.
But what about the high fiber recommendations you see in medical textbooks and everywhere else? It says that our brains need glucose to survive and we need fiber for our gut to be healthy. NOT TRUE! Nope. Neither statement is true. Our bodies cannot live without certain minerals, vitamins, proteins, and fats. We can live without carbohydrates. And our bowels can be healthy without fiber.
What are monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides, Fiber high foods?
Sacaraide means sugar. Mono(one) and di(two) saccharides form strings of sugars called carbohydrates. Combine certain sugar-molecules together and those strings of carbohydrates become starches. Other combinations can’t be digested by humans. We call those strings of carbohydrates fibers.
Combine one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose to create sucrose i.e., table sugar. We call this a disaccharide because it took two molecules to make it. Add one glucose to another glucose to make another disaccharide called maltose.
What about polysaccharides?
“Poly” means many. Add that to our sugar word and we get MANY SUGARS.
Examples of polysaccharides include starches. Find strings of sugar in potatoes, carrots, rice, wheat, oats, rye, barley, and buckwheat. Legumes, peas, lentils also fall into this category.
Our body makes polysaccharides. Yes. We string many sugars together for storage when we eat too many carbohydrates. One such polysaccharide called glycogen gets stored in our muscles and liver cells. Glycogen quickly reverses into simple sugars again when our body is low on fuel.
FARTING FROM CARBOHYDRATES
One glucose and one galactose make the disaccharide found in dairy is lactose. This is a carbohydrate. Patients with lactose intolerance do not have the enzyme needed to break these two molecules apart. Their glucose and galactose remain linked as they travel through the gut. The unbroken glucose and galactose hang out in our gut and do not get into circulation. Without that enzyme, this carbohydrate acts much like a fiber — a string of sugars that can not be broken down. This undigestable chain of carbs feeds bacteria resulting in gas, indigestion, and loose stools. Farting can be one sign of bacteria replicating in your guts.
Methylcellulose*** a synthetic fiber (Citrucel) prevents bacterial fermentation. This is important because it decreases gas, a big problem with fiber. It absorbs water and increases the mass of the poop. This helps in its movement allowing for a quicker visit to the toilet.
Fructose and galactose together form lactulose, a man-made carbohydrate.* Importantly, this cannot be absorbed by our bodies. It passes right through our gut into the toilet and it often makes patients kinda gassy at first.
What about fiber? Like several starches, soluble-fiber cannot be digested. The problem with eating soluble fiber? It can spike your blood glucose just like eating starch.
Let’s talk more about Fiber. There are two types: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber is fiber that attracts water and this turns into a gel during digestion. This slows digestion. Where do you find soluble fiber? Nuts, barley, seeds, oat bran beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables. It can also be found in psyllium, a common fiber supplement (Metamucil).
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and you will find in vegetables, wheat bran, and whole grains. By adding bulk to the stool fiber has been “sold” as a way to improve the movement of food through the stomach and intestines. There is more to this story if your gut is also filled with carbohydrates.
Most people take fiber to help with their constipation. The problem with this? The evidence is weak.
One study looked at 63 patients.**** All of them had constipation, strain opening, bloating, rectal bleeding and pain.
They were then divided into 3 groups. Those who got high fiber foods, those who ate foods low in fiber and the last group that stayed away from foods that had any fiber. Meaning no vegetables, no cereals or fruits, wholemeal breads or rice. Basically the third group had zero fiber.
In the high fiber group, symptoms of constipation, strain opening, bloating rectal/anal bleeding and pain actually got worse.
In the reduced/low fiber group, the symptoms got somewhat better.
The zero fiber diet group on the other hand showed no symptoms. Constipation, strain opening, bloating rectal/anal bleeding and pain all went away. They all got better. Every person in this group had one normal bowel movement per day. The high fiber group on the other hand had on average one bowel movement every week. ****
So the question is, do you need Fiber High Foods on a strict ketogenic diet?
Correct! One does NOT need fiber in this case! Why? Your intestines will regulate over time. It may take weeks to adapt, but it will. While on a strict keto diet, the mucus layer will repair. The gut will behave normally and hone its special movements to push waste along. You won’t need fiber to maintain regularity.
Bottom line, I don’t recommend fiber to my ketogenic patients. Your read that correctly – fiber has been over-prescribed.
So what was the big deal about fiber all this time? Adding fiber made sense when eating a regular American high-carb diet. The chronic inflammation from that diet found less inflammation when adding fiber. The reduced inflammation was just a tiny amount.
When on a keto diet, the inflammation-causing carbohydrates are absent. Your intestines chug along normally and your gut-slime-layer stays intact and healthy. The normal bacterial growth and the natural “movement” of the intestine develops over time and allow for a normal daily bowel movement. No fiber needed.
Forget running after “net” carbs and counting out the fiber from the carbs. I have seen blood sugars go up even when the “net” carbs seem low.
So stay away from thinking fiber is harmless. Fiber can be harmful. It destroys your natural slime layer, raises blood glucose, and adds bowel symptoms. On a strict ketogenic diet there should not be a need for fiber to maintain regularity.
Watch me talk more on the Truth about Keto and Fiber in my live recording here:
* 1. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/lactulose
** 2. Slime layer mentioned here
Han, S. H., Hong, K. B., Kim, E. Y., Ahn, S. H., & Suh, H. J. (2016). Effect of dual-type oligosaccharides on constipation in loperamide-treated rats. Nutrition research and practice, 10(6), 583–589. doi:10.4162/nrp.2016.10.6.583
*** 3. fiber => bulk effect to stretch colon & stimulate peristalsis mentioned here: Portalatin, M., & Winstead, N. (2012). Medical management of constipation. Clinics in colon and rectal surgery, 25(1), 12–19. doi:10.1055/s-0032-1301754
**** 4. Ho, K. S., Tan, C. Y., Mohd Daud, M. A., & Seow-Choen, F. (2012). Stopping or reducing dietary fiber intake reduces constipation and its associated symptoms. World journal of gastroenterology, 18(33), 4593–4596. doi:10.3748/wjg.v18.i33.4593