By Cheryl Wright, RHN, BA

Over the last 60 years the average Canadian diet has changed dramatically. Previously locally grown, farm fresh food was readily available. However with urbanization also came a change in the quality of food. Processing food has become common, and therefore so has nutrient deficient food. Canadians, particularly men, are also eating more fast food, and less whole grains, fruits and vegetables. This type of diet is causing major health problems, and one of the main reasons for these health problems, is a lack of fibre.

According to Health Canada the adequate intake (AI), for fibre is 14g/
1000 kcal/day for all age groups 1 year and over. This converts to basically:

•    38 grams per day for men aged 19-50
•    30 grams per day for men 51 and older
•    25 grams per day for women 19-50
•    21 grams per day for women 51 and older

A Statistics Canada survey showed that all 4 groups are consuming well below the required amount of fibre, and that the men in both age groups are worse off than the women. It was found that the men in both age groups were consuming just 19g per day –that’s only 50% of what 19-50 year olds need and 63% of what men over 51 require.

These percentages mirror the limited consumption of whole-grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans considered the best natural sources of dietary fibres; the same foods that are often lacking from men’s meals. Meanwhile, there are commercials on TV touting the benefits of fibre in mainstream cereals. These cereals are probably the most common ‘high’ fibre food that guys eat. However, very few of these cereals even come close to the fibre requirements for optimal health.

Fibre is a necessary part of our diet. It is required for a number of important functions in the body including; enhancing the body’s ability to remove toxins, helping to regulate blood sugar levels, absorbing excess cholesterol and increasing the volume of stool. Health organizations including The Heart Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Canadian Diabetes Association and the Canadian Cancer Society all recommend Health Canada’s AI of fibre for preventative measures.

Let’s face it, most guys don’t think about taking fibre, but they should, and the first thing they need to know is what type of fibre they should be consuming. There are two main types of fibre, soluble fibre and insoluble fibre. Insoluble fibre has a cleansing effect (like a scrub brush) removing toxins and hardened material from the intestinal wall by scraping them off as it passes by. It also works to tone the bowel by creating a resistance that the muscles of the colon have to work against. This is the opposite of soluble fibre, which works by absorbing toxins (similar to a sponge), soaking up material as it passes. It is for this reason that soluble fibre is recommended to help lower blood cholesterol. Soluble fibre soaks up cholesterol that the liver has broken down. It is also strongly recommended to use soluble fibre when performing a cleanse, as it will absorb the toxins and help to carry them out of the system. Both fibres play an important role in the body.

Many people take supplemental fibre because they are constipated and think extra fibre will help. Sadly this is not always true. It depends on the type of fibre you are taking. Most constipation is caused by dehydration, and the majority of fibre products sold today are made from psyllium fibre. Psyllium is a highly water-soluble fibre meaning it can actually dehydrates the colon, making many people more constipated then they were to begin with. 

There are a number of other fibres available in supplemental form including flax, guar gum and acacia gum. When these fibres are combined a better blend of soluble and insoluble fibre is provided, which is similar to what is found naturally in food. An example is Renew Life’s FibreSMART, which contains a mixture of defatted flax seed, acacia fibre and guar gum to provide a fibre supplement blend of roughly 50% soluble and 50% insoluble fibre. This blend allows FibreSMART to bind to toxins and to increase elimination, without the constipating side effects created by other highly soluble fibres. FibreSMART is not only a source of dietary fibre, but a complete digestive care formula. It contains ingredients like L-Glutamine which works to rebuild the intestinal tract lining, and fennel to decrease gas and bloating.

Taking FibreSMART can create a range of noticeable effects in the body. It increases the volume of stool and if taken while cleansing, can lessen symptoms associated with detoxification (muscle aching, cold and flu like symptoms). It minimizes these symptoms by binding the released toxins so they cannot be reabsorbed. FibreSMART can be taken either once or twice daily, with water or juice. It is available in powder but also comes in a convenient capsule form.

Men- if you are looking for optimum health you need to ensure you are getting the recommended 30-40 grams of fibre per day. You can achieve this by consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, and complimented daily with a good quality blended fibre supplement like FibreSMART, available from your local Health First store.

References:

Canadian Cancer Society. Fibre. [Internet]. [Cited 2012, Sept 10]. Available from: http://www.cancer.ca/Ontario/Prevention/Nutrition%20and%20fitness/Healthy%20food%20choices/High-fibre%20foods.aspx?sc_lang=en

Canadian Diabetes Association. The Benefits of Eating Fibre [Internet]. [cited 2012, Sept 10]. Available from: http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/nutrition/fibre/

Haas, Elson (1992) Staying Healthy with Nutrition, The complete guide to diet and nutritional medicine. Berkeley, California: Celestial Arts.

Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada. Fibre.  [Internet]. [Cited 2012, Sept 10]. Available from: http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.4391495/k.FA36/Health_Check_nutrient_standards_for_fibre.htm

Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada. Cholesterol control through food and activity.  [Internet]. [Cited 2012, Sept 10]. Available from: http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.6430823/k.A5EB/Heart_Disease__Cholesterol_control_through_food_and_activity.htm

Natural Standards Database. Fennel (foeniculum vulgare) Monograph [Internet]. [cited 2012, Sept 10].Available from:
http://www.naturalstandard.com/databases/herbssupplements/fennel.asp?

Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey, Cycle 2.2, Nutrition. P.141. [Internet]. [Cited 2012, Sept 8]. Available from http://equinox.uwo.ca/Docfiles/cchs/c2.2/NutrientIntakes/English%20Files/English%20Summary%20Data%20Tables%20by%20Nutrient/Nutrient%20Intakes%20from%20Food%20-%20Volume%201.pdf

Trepel, F. (2004). Dietary fibre:more than a matter of dietics.II. Preventative and therapeutic uses. Wien Klien Wochenschr Aug 31;116(15-16). 511-22.