Fiber- I’m Bound to Tell You All About It

It is a running joke in my family that I talk about poop too much. Though I spend half of my waking hours asking my two kids to stop talking about their butts, and to put their penises back into their pants, I secretly have the sense of humor of an 11-year-old boy.

This puts me in the unique position to be able to discuss our digestive systems openly and without judgement. And though the running joke is a slight exaggeration, at the ripe age of 43 I do feel I have enough experience to be able to share some important tips that will hopefully enlighten people enough to understand why poop is so very, very important.

I try to use supplements sparingly with my patients, and to let food and lifestyle changes be our most powerful medicine. Yet I struggle to find a reason NOT to put nearly every person who walks through my door on a daily dose of supplemental fiber. I ask and want to know that my patients are having at least one, satisfying poop every day. This is not just something to talk about; there are very important reasons why this needs to happen.

The digestive system includes everything from your mouth to the very far other end. The entire length of this system is lined with skin cells- very similar to what is on the outside of your body, but with a few small differences. Its main job is to allow your body to take in the nutrients that it needs to make energy and build your body parts, and to get rid of all of the things that you do not need or want in your body. When the liver breaks down all the many things you are exposed to every day- including things that are toxic to our systems- it dumps the waste products into our intestines to literally be eliminated as our waste. If the bowels are moving well, they function as an excellent mechanism for detoxification.

If things are moving slowly, or if a person becomes constipated, the large intestine basically acts like a large sponge. This last stage of digestion is actually a very effective mechanism for the body to not waste anything that is actually useable to our systems. We reabsorb nutrients from the large intestine, and water, too. If a person is constipated, and stool or poop sits too long in the large intestine, some of those hazardous waste products will be reabsorbed into the bloodstream and basically our exposure will be repeated and amplified.

Some examples of this are hormone waste products. In an average day in the average body, hormones that are manufactured in the body are processed, and broken down into a form that is disposable. This is usually a water-soluble product that can be excreted in urine, and some products that are eliminated via the intestines. So imagine if you have PMS, or another set of symptoms that are related to too much hormonal activity: if you are constipated you are basically re-exposing yourself to hormones that otherwise would be eliminated.

There are many reasons why a person might not be having regular bowel movements. Some are more complicated and have to do with the endocrine system, a method in the body for making all different kinds of hormones. But many people lack adequate fiber in the diet- and this is always where I begin when working with someone on digestive issues.  Fiber essentially acts like a sponge: it helps to bind and absorb the waste products that are eliminated in the intestines, so that they cannot be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. Fiber can also help bulk up the actual stool itself, which provides for easier muscular movement towards elimination.

The digestive system is also its own ecosystem- which means there should be a very diverse environment of bacteria residing within. “Probiotics” are the umbrella name for this population of organisms that help support a healthy immune system and support a strong barrier between your digestive system and your bloodstream. This bacteria needs a healthy environment in which to build a home, and needs food to eat. A great fiber product will include types of fiber that are food for probiotics- also called “prebiotics.” If there is no food to eat, the bacteria will not thrive and survive.

In this day and age of rushing and hurrying and eating on the run, many of us do a less than stellar job of eating a broad variety of foods high in fiber. One of the best and simplest ways to improve your digestive health is to supplement with a basic fiber product that helps keep the bowels moving every day.

 

 

As of August 2017 we are STILL working on getting processing for our supplement retail website. Until then you can call us and we will ship a fiber option to you. Our favorite fiber is also available from Thorne: FIBERMEND. You can see it here: https://www.thorne.com/products/dp/fibermend-trade

And if you want to set up an account to purchase go here:

https://www.thorne.com/signup/patient

and use the practitioner code HCP1005509

One Response

  1. Nancy Debevoise says:

    This is a well- written, concise explanation. I learned a LOT. Thanks, Dr. Riley!

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