Monday, September 9, 2013

I must be missing something (Fiber)

Last week on Mark's Daily Apple Konstantin Monastyrsky, author of Fiber Menace, did a guest post about fiber.  A lot of people in the comment section didn't seem keen on the idea that vegetable fiber isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Oh, those beloved veggies.

Now, I do agree that Konstantins tone was too abrasive.  Just give me the facts please.  Anyway, today on MDA we had Mark himself weigh in with his take on fiber ... basically on vegetable fiber.

Here it is in a nutshell:
  • Soluble fiber can be fermented by bacteria in our colon with benefits to our immune system and short chain fatty acid production, along with some unwanted gas and gut discomfort.
  • Insoluble fiber cannot be broken down anywhere in our system and does not help with constipation.  
  • He's going to continue to eat his Big Ass Salad every day (which, along with some protein, appears to be very high in insoluble fiber)

WTF am I missing?  Is there a disconnect here or is it just me?  Why are green leaves so friggin sacred?  WHY?  A few here and there - fine.  But the Big Ass Salad is basically his lunch every day.

Alright, I don't want to come across as hating on Mark.  I just happen to disagree with him on the salad thing.  He is a super nice guy who genuinely is in this game to improve people's health and gives out oodles of free information to back that up.  He's da man.  However, it's all about soluble fiber kids.  And bacteria.  We should be eating some soluble fiber (but not an excessive amount) and taking care to also ingest a variety of bacteria.  Here is a link to one of the best articles I've found on the subject (by an expert in the field no less ... Dr. Art Ayers).

Leaves, stalks and grasses?  Let ruminants break those things down ... and then eat the meat of those ruminants  Okay,  I'm getting off my soap box now. 


The Primalist said...

Lol. I've been eating a bigass salad every day, all through summer. But more inspite of the fibre than because of it. I figure there's some vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, etc. that could be good supplements to my diet. Plus, Terry Wahls defeated MS with a large veg intake, so there's probably something beneficial there. However, I'm not the type to try to fit x veggies servings into my day, or sweat it if I don't eat any veggies at all on any given day. Although I do identify with the view that us paleo/primal folk probably end up eating more veg than vegetarians, simply because we're not eating grains or lots of starches. Anyhoo, just my 2 cents.

Aaron said...

I appreciate your 2 cents. I agree that paleo/primal types by and large tend to eat a lot of veggies.

There are loads of people like you and Mark who just enjoy eating salads. I suppose from the 30,000' view of things here, I'm nitpicking about how cellulose foods (leaves and stems) have come to be seen as uber healthy. There are many more important things like eliminating gluten and veggie seed oils.

Still, I have my doubts as to whether or not we can even use many of the vitamins and nutrients locked up in that tough fiber matrix. On the occasion I do eat salads (yes, it has been known to happen) it's merely for variety.

This isn't to say that I don't eat any veggies. I eat plenty of things like carrots, onions, avocados and beets. Undoubtedly I get some insoluble fiber in my diet, which is fine. I'm just not sold on the idea of eating things like kale and broccoli day in and day out.

The Primalist said...

Are you familiar with Terry Wahls? What's your take? (if not, great video on youtube)

Aaron said...

I had seen her video when it came out almost 2 years ago, but I just watched it again.

So here's my take. She's eating a very good paleo/primal template. Very, very nutritious. But, in my humble opinion, it's in spite of the green leaves, not because of them. She's getting nutrients in spades from the fish, meat, fruits, and in particular, organ meats.

I agree with including bulbs and tubers in one's diet as well (like she does). Carrots, beets, onions, garlic, etc. These are more soluble fiber than insoluble and feed the bacteria in your gut (prebiotics). She mentions that greens have lots of vitamins and nutrients (and they do) but, as you know, I'm just not convinced we can access those nutrients from the cellulose. Not in any meaningful way anyhow. I could be wrong on this, but it's what I'm finding in my meanderings (I'm not going to call it research). So basically, I think she's getting all of the stuff she needs from the rest of her diet and the green leaves are mostly just passing through.

Could she drop the green leaves to find out? Probably, but why would she want to? What she's doing is working, and, if I was in her shoes, I wouldn't want to mess with the success.

By the way, she doesn't really tell us what kind of foods she was eating before hand. If it was SAD like, then simply eliminating stuff like grains and seed oils would also be a big contributor to her success.

The Primalist said...

I was pretty sure you'd say that - that she's eating clean relative to what she was probably eating prior, the paleo diet itself is healthy, and the improvement is in spite of not, due to the greens. And that's how my brain thinks, too. But when I see her focusing SO MUCH on greens, it makes me think that there might be something to it. Especially since her story is so remarkable. But again, who knows - perhaps a typical paleo diet would've sufficed. I just bring her up because that video made such an impression on me that whenever anyone questions greens, it comes to mind.

Aaron said...

You know, this topic about greens reminds me just how confusing nutrition can be in general. Anyone enters this rabbit hole at their own mental risk.

Out of curiosity, who else have you run across that questions greens? I feel very lonely taking this view.

The Primalist said...

You're right, not that many people... I just pulled out my Nora Gedgaudas book, which is my fave paleo book.. she says "Fiber does not appear to be a critical part of the equation, however, and vegetables and fruits are not the be-all and end-all."

This is interesting: "On the plus-side, "soluble fiber (found in nuts, seeds, fibrous vegetables and fruit) may serve to feed healthy bacteria in the gut (assuming, of course, one has healthy bacteria in the gut to feed) which they may then convert to useful nutrient substances such as butyric acid - the primary fuel for colon cells and the #1 colon cancer-preventing substance, along with vitamins A and D. Incidentally, butyric acid is also richly found in grass-fed butter... Butter - also a superb source of true vitamin A - may in fact be a greater preventative food for colon cancer than dietary fiber ever could be."

So she's a proponent of fibrous veg.

If I come across some important anti-green stuff, or think of someone who is, I'll try to let you know..

Aaron said...

Yes, pretty much the info I'm finding says the exact same stuff. I do wonder if the short chain fatty acids we get from foods like butter is 'interchangeable' with the stuff that is manufactured from soluble fiber by our gut bacteria.

I've not read Nora's book, but obviously I should look into it. Thanks so much for all of your input!