The Fiber Myth

The Fiber Myth

There was a time when I didn’t go #2 daily and was told by my doctor that my body was just different and didn’t need to go everyday. At that time I was eating a Standard American Diet (SAD) of healthy “whole grains.” But at about age 20, I started to get severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). When my dog, Teva, started losing her hair in patches, the first thing my veterinarian asked me was, “What are you feeding her?” Yes! What a good question! But you know what? I have never been asked that question at the doctor. Not once. My doctor just told me to take that neon-orange powder called Citrucel and said it would cure me. You know what, it helped  a lot for a while, but then I started realizing all the food dye and fake stuff I was putting in my body couldn’t be good. It was killing my intestinal flora and creating a dependency on fiber.  So what is the fiber myth?

 

 The Fiber Myth

There isn’t a day goes by that I get asked “Don’t I need fiber to go #2?” Fiber has been hyped as a critical piece of a healthy diet which I once believed. A common mistake I see many clients do is subtract fiber from the carbohydrate count to get “net” carbs. We see clients kicked out of ketosis all the time with too much fiber.

The theoretical health benefits of a high-fiber diet have not been proven by research. On the contrary, many studies have confirmed that a high fiber is harmful for intestinal health and you become dependent on the irritant that fiber is to the gut in order to eliminate daily, which causes further damage.

Certain functional fibers are often added to foods such as Fiber One bars in order to look “healthy.”

An interesting editorial done by Tan and Seow-Choen in 2007 refer to insoluble fiber as “the ultimate junk food”, stating “it is neither digestible nor absorbable and therefore devoid of nutrition.” They go on to prove that excess insoluble fiber binds to crucial minerals such as magnesium, zinc, calcium, and iron, inhibiting the absorption of these essential nutrients.

We have also been mistakenly told by our trusted doctors that a high-fiber diet is a great defensive against the change of diverticulitis and IBS. On the contrary, it has been proven that a high-fiber diet decreases gut flora and irritates the lining of the gut; which increases risk of this disease. It has also been found that there is no link between the diverticulitis and intake of a high fat diet or consumption of red meat, which are other factors commonly blamed to cause diverticulitis.

An increase in fiber has been proven to alter gut bacteria in only 2 weeks!

One myth of ketogenic diets is that we don’t get enough fiber to provide beneficial gut flora to grow. And that you need soluble fiber to feed friendly bacteria to optimize digestive health and maintaining the integrity of the gut lining through the production of butyrate. Interestingly, butyrate itself is also found in high-fat dairy products such as butter and cheese, and can also be provided by the bacteria found in fermented foods which I commonly recommend. Ideally, dietary fiber should be coming from whole food plant sources such as green leafy vegetables, herbs, avocado, yellow tomato which I also recommend on a ketogenic diet.

I also discuss the importance of adding coconut vinegar (FOS) while taking a probiotic in my Supplement 101 class. Click HERE to watch.

I also recommend a good probiotic to help with gut health, as well as other supplements such as l-glutamine, and aloe to heal the gut lining, which I write about in my book Keto-Adapted. Click HERE to find.

If you think about it, babies that are breast-fed don’t get any fiber and they eliminate multiple times a day! If they don’t it is often a low level of probiotics in the breast-feeding mother which is easily corrected.

If you need help with your intestinal flora, I would be honored to help with a consult.

The Fiber Myth

Testimonies of the Day

PHONE CLIENT: “I was telling my husband that you are the first person I’ve worked with over the last 2 years that has me pooping daily.  He suggested we send you a Poop Award 🙂  Thought you’d like that.” Lisa

PHONE CLIENT:I dropped about 6 pounds and then nothing. You had me go into my doctor for some blood work. Wow am I glad you sent me for blood work. He ran the tests you had asked for. We discovered I had diabetes in April 2013. And in June of 2013 it was confirmed that I have LADA. An autoimmune diabetes type 1.

I wanted to thank you for asking for blood work!! If I hadn’t gone in for blood work, I am told that sometime in the future I would have ended up in the hospital and subsequently insulin dependent. Most LADA patients are diagnosed in an acute manner, not how I was. I am forever grateful!

So far with eating correctly I am still not insulin dependent as of March 2015!!  I am hoping to make it for many more years!!! I have since lost, in total around 30 pounds from 2013 to late 2013 and stay around the same weight. I do fluctuate 3 pounds I have found depending on how my sugars are running.

My goal for this year is to get back in the gym regularly. I seem to be stable now with my health and need to work on keeping me healthy!

Thank you again!

Many blessings!”

Krista

Click HERE to get started on your keto-adapted diet.

 

73 Comments

  • Michelle says:

    My 66 year old, per diabetic mom, now taking meteor min has been diagnosed by colonoscopy with diverticulosis. She was told to increase fiber. She went and bought bran, and made bran muffins. She is going today for the results of a biopsie of a polup they found. Her complaint is her side ached and she does not go #2 regularly. I will share this with her. Thanks for writing.

    • Michelle says:

      That was supposed to read she’s taking Metformin not meteor min…auto correct.

  • Amanda Reed says:

    So it’s a matter of intestinal flora… I take a probiotic, but it’s not the one you recommend.

  • Christine says:

    I had a Sigmoidoscopy a few years ago and was awake for it and watching on the monitor. The technician noted the beginning stages of diverticulitis, as you could see pock type indentations in my sigmoid colon. No one ever mentioned it again with any follow-up appointments. I tried to research on-line but couldn’t find out what in my body creates this disease, only about the pain people get etc. when there are complications. Is this caused from episodes of constipation or poor food choices in my past?
    Thank you as always for the information and thought provoking articles . . . I am a fresh newbie at Keto and your posts inspire me to demand more of myself and my health.

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      It is caused by poor food choices. It is caused by chronic inflammation. 🙂

  • Holly R. says:

    What about for someone who can’t stop going?

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      There are other resolutions that are healthier. Changes in diet (dairy free, nut free), supplements. 🙂

  • Very accurate especially the last part about babies!

  • Anne L. says:

    I can’t imagine why anybody on a ketogenic diet would ever want or need to take a fiber supplement even if they thought they required high amounts of fiber. Between plenty of fresh vegetables and the flaxseed meal and coconut flour that are keto staples, I get a lot more fiber naturally than I EVER ate on the Standard American Diet.

  • Janet t says:

    no problems with the bathroom, since I followed your meal plan and supplement plan. I have never felt better. I am still a bit shocked at the turn around in my overall health and well being that diet has played. thank you maria.

  • Sara says:

    So should we do chia seeds instead of flax?

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      Yes, that would be an ok alternative. But as the article above state, careful with too much fiber. 🙂

  • Brigid says:

    How do I schedule a phone consult?

  • Wenchypoo says:

    Hubby and I are in the middle of a zero-carb experiment, and there’s absolutely NO vegetable matter, coconut flour, or glucomannan being consumed (just meat for me, and meat + dairy for him). To date, we haven’t had problems going at all–probably because (I’m guessing here) the ramped-up fat intake is acting the same as fiber would–helping to clean and lubricate our insides.

    Rumor has it that eating grass-fed and/or pastured meats is actually feeding us plant material indirectly, since the animal ate it before we ate the animal. I don’t know if it’s true, but if it is, then I suppose that would count as some sort of fiber.

    At the end of our experiment, we’ll weigh ourselves and see if we lost any weight. Hubby’s BG has come down and remained in the 70-80 range.

    • Mary says:

      Interesting … please post your results!

    • Dana says:

      All cattle eat plant matter and all beef cattle are grass-fed/pastured before the feedlot. What you refer to as grass-fed is actually grass-FINISHED, because instead of being sent to a grain feedlot they’re finished on grass.

      And no, it doesn’t count as fiber.

      You go regularly on zero-carb because the fat you intake stimulates your gallbladder which releases bile into your intestine. Among bile’s other functions, it also maintains bowel regularity. I find I actually have to introduce some soluble fiber, not much but a little, to slow things down a bit if my carbs are really low. I find pumpkin is a good source, and there are others.

      • Annette Mahoney says:

        Mine is 100% grassfed must no your supplier, as some are tricky and have in tiny letters grass finished or grain finished which is usually the latter. i by jones creek grassfed only

  • kerenli says:

    Would psyllium husks be fibre that makes you go by irritating the gut?

  • DonnaZ says:

    Phone Client, LISA, you make me laugh 🙂 We all understand and yes, that IS a big deal! And my congrats to Maria, for getting her 1st Poop Award!! haha thanks for the smile of the day

  • Mary says:

    I could have a similar testimony to your phone client and 2nd that award and more. I’ve tried for about 20 years various special diets, herbal regimins and detoxes. In just 2 months of following the keto plan from your web seminar, my gut is finally healing. My doctor is really excited about the results.

  • Hélène says:

    O.
    M.
    Gosh!!
    My last baby (totally breastfed as were her 4 siblings) could not have BMs but once every 10-14 days. When she did it would be all over and massive. It was rly worrying to me and I asked the national LLL about it as local leaders were dumbfounded after months of this. Im in their site’s archives as a case study. No one ever figured it out. My baby eventually started being regular when she began eating solids consistently. And it wasnt a massive, several times to get it all out thing–>poor thing would start going while nursing and have to stop as her gut was probably in knots expelling the stuff–never dry or hard or rly that formed even, no. Normal breastfed BM.
    I think the bad gut health of the mother (ME) was the deal. BINGO
    WOW I am floored rite now.

  • Alycia says:

    This article is one I needed most, I’m coming off a high fruit Raw Vegan diet (I went vegan at 15 and I’m 39!), I did this produce vegan diet bc it helped ibs constipation for me and I’m very lactose intolerant BUT being bloated, water logged, needing to eat so often and so much volume just ain’t worth anymore.
    You say to start off with only 10 carbs a day (in keto book) which Im still trying to figure out what that will look like bc I’m not seeing much if any room for produce bc it all has decent amount of carbs naturally,. I’m hoping l-glutamine, magnesium, and some probiotics will do the trick for intestinal function like fiber did for so many yrs. This is a total 180 from how I’ve lived majority of my life.

    • Mary says:

      Alycia – I had a similar raw fruit and then just raw vegan diet for a long time and my body went through an adjustment phase where it was in a bit of shock at the shift. Hang in there through this transition period! And yes, it does not allow for much in the way of produce which is very difficult for me as I’m an organic farmer. However, the health trade-off is worth it for me!

  • Alycia says:

    Not sure why only one sentance appears in my reply, but I’ll try again-
    Which one of Maria’s books would you recommend that would help me the best, since you’ve been where I am as raw food vegan and female?
    Im her size so Id like to base my transition off how she lives, which I havnt been able to find on blog/forum or interviews how she personally eats macros and I know she’s really active too which I love.
    I saw theres also meal plan packages for sale.
    Anything books etc… You’d recomdend to do this rt?

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      My book Keto-Adapted is a great place to start.
      http://mariamindbodyhealth.com/my-books/

      My meal plan packages are really easy to follow all the way down to weekly grocery lists. 🙂
      http://mariamindbodyhealth.com/my-services/

      • Alycia says:

        Perfect Im on it

      • Alycia says:

        Maria, if I’m already intermittent fasting, not wanting any cheats(like nuts, dairy, flours etc..)But hard core keto plan for weight loss and fat adapting within keto 7 price range would ” keto 7 advanced” be best?

        • kerenli says:

          Maria, would YOU consider nuts/dairy/flours “cheats” on a ketogenic way of eating? If so, would you please say why?

          • Alycia says:

            In keto book & Also it’s brought up in blog “10 weightless mistakes “

          • Alycia says:

            “Weight loss” sorry – auto correct and I have a very fun relationship 😉

          • Maria Emmerich says:

            If your goal is weight loss, yes for most people. If you are closer to your goals or in maintenance then they are fine. 🙂

          • kerenli says:

            I understand now what “cheats” mean-the things we like to snack on and get addicted to, as opposed to eating a “well-formulated” ketogenic diet. Know the “cheatin” way well! Thanks for the alert!

        • Maria Emmerich says:

          Yes, that would fit well. Keto-30 advanced would be best if you can swing it. 🙂

    • Mary says:

      I don’t have Maria’s latest book, Keto Adapted. Follow Maria’s suggestions. All her materials are great – books, webinairs, etc. Best to you on your journey!

  • Alycia says:

    SThank You Maria

  • Darlene says:

    Do you no longer suggest the “Gluten Free Tacos” on your post of 6-12-13 which contain psyllium husk? If not, can you suggest an alternative?

  • Nancy says:

    Your article seems to say that fiber is not important on the keto adapted diet but your prior books have found fiber to be one of the positive things found in coconut flour. Since coconut flour is so high in fiber do you no longer recommend it?

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      Fiber is ok in smaller quantities (feeds gut flora). Just just don’t need more than 20-30g a day. 🙂

  • Kelly says:

    beside veggies, what fiber supplement do you recommend – chia seeds, unsweetened coconut ?, also which veggies do you recommend.

  • Kelly says:

    Maria, is it safe to take magnesium citrate everyday ? and is aloe vera juice safe to drink everyday?.

  • CK says:

    Maria – how many grams of fiber do you recommend/day for gut health? Approximately how many servings of veggies is that? What about someone who has a “sick” gut (dx from doc)? I already take the probiotic you rec and am on your 90 day plan. Veggies are truly my nemesis! Thank you for Maria!!

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      The 90 day plans have a good amount of fiber for what you need. Typically you only need about 10 to maybe 20g of fiber a day to feed your gut microbiome. And if you supplement with probiotic and/or eat naturally fermented foods, the requirement is even less. 🙂

  • Charlotte J says:

    Maria,
    I come to you recommended by my naturopath.
    My naturopath put me on a Ketogenic Diet because of carb sensitivity leading to liver issues.
    Due to all the bowel issues I have been experiences going keto and cleansing my liver she recommended more fiber to bulk up the toxins and get them out of my system. Specifically psyllium.
    What are your thoughts?

  • Tanja says:

    I have heard from oat fiber recently. I don’t know it and have never used it before. What’s your opinion on that? Thanks!

  • Kelly says:

    Which veggies do you recommend?, which chia seed – white or black or salba is the best?.

  • Amy says:

    This is a confusing post regarding Chia seeds. In one response you say chia seeds are fine and in another you say they are estrogenic.

    Sara says:
    May 26, 2015 at 8:27 pm
    So should we do chia seeds instead of flax?
    Maria Emmerich says:
    May 27, 2015 at 8:37 am
    Yes, that would be an ok alternative. But as the article above state, careful with too much fiber

    Kelly says:
    August 6, 2016 at 12:54 pm
    Which veggies do you recommend?, which chia seed – white or black or salba is the best?.
    Maria Emmerich says:
    August 7, 2016 at 7:58 am
    Chia is not recommended!!!! Estrogenic!!!
    Green leafy veggies😍

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      Shortly after posting that reply I learned that chia is also very estrogenic. Not as much as flax but still an issue. So I don’t recommend chia anymore.

  • joel Garner says:

    I would like to add that the addition of insoluble and soluble fibers to processed foods may infact cause these foods to be even less nutritious than actually helping it become more nutritious than if they were not enriched with any fiber at all.

  • […] friend and fellow low carb blogger, Maria Emmerich, wrote a great article on The Fiber Myth. I encourage you to give it a read. She discusses how increasing fiber in your diet can actually […]

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