By Konstantin Monastrsky
(Pub. by Ageless Press, 2005)
From a symbolic cover illustrating a cereal bowl full of gold screws, the insightful book, Fiber Menace, reveals the disastrous effects that our modern high-fiber nutritional dictates may have on the proper functioning of the digestive system. From purely a perspective of the problems that a high-fiber diet creates--of large stools that stretch the intestinal tract beyond its normal range and eventually cause intestinal damage and bowel problems, including hernias, hemorrhoidal disease, constipation, malnourishment, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease, to drastically upsetting the natural bacterial flora in the intestinal tract--Fiber Menace describes major health issues that can develop from eating what's considered a modern healthy diet that is high in fiber from fiber supplements, grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes.
The book also details the problems with over-hydration. The recommended 8 glasses of water a day may cause problems such as constipation, mineral depletion and imbalances, which can factor in digestive disorders, kidney disease, degenerative bone disease, muscular disorders and even cardiac arrest from electrical dysfunction. Pointing to traditional healthy cultures, we find that people did not drink large quantities of water because a clean water source was not guaranteed. Instead, they stayed hydrated with dairy, fermented beverages and bone broth soups, which have incredible nutrient qualities and are not flushed through the body as plain water.
The author of this book is a brilliant man who suffered a life-threatening illness from years as a vegetarian. Mr. Monastyrsky is a pharmacologist, and after immigrating to the US from the Ukraine, pursued a career in high technology. He worked in two premier Wall Street firms: as a senior systems analyst at First Boston Corporation and as a consultant at Goldman-Sachs & Co. He has also written two best-selling Russian language books, entitled Functional Nutrition: The Foundation of Absolute Health and Longevity, and Disorders of Carbohydrate Metabolism.
I was fascinated with this author's perspective as I also suffered a life-threatening digestive illness and recovered through eating a nutrient-dense diet, which happens to also be a low-fiber diet. For years, I ate lots of fruits and vegetables--mostly raw--ate lots of grains and faithfully drank 8 glasses of water daily. I ate some meat and dairy and very little fat-- and definitely no butter! I developed severe intestinal damage from undiagnosed Celiac disease and a hiatal hernia, but am convinced, from reading this book, that many of my digestive problems may have been equally caused from a high-fiber diet as a factor in the intestinal damage and severe malnutrition that I suffered.
The author discusses that a low fiber diet and not eating anything that your great, great, great, great grandmother wouldn't eat will heal digestive illness. He advocates eating a high protein diet with foods that are easy-to-digest, build up the intestinal bacterial flora and supply ample traditional fat. These are the same principles that I found effective in building health from a very depleted condition.
This book focuses on what not to eat and why. Mr. Monastrysky explains that the human teeth are fashioned to chop flesh and our digestive system is built to handle mainly protein digestion with small amounts of fiber. When we eat too much fiber, digestion lasts longer and fermentation occurs, damaging the bacterial flora and causing problems such as bloating, flatulence and enlarged stools, which can lead to problems such as constipation or diarrhea, IBS, and diverticular disease.
We must consider however, that many healthy cultures successfully ate a mixed diet that included ample fiber from grains, vegetables and fruits. However, the missing component in the success of their diets compared to many modern mixed and vegetarian diets, is that healthy diets supplied adequate fats, vitamin A and D, easy-to-digest bone broth soups, traditionally fermented foods that promote a healthy intestinal flora and high-quality sources of protein. Although Monastrysky suggests high-quality protein, fats, and building intestinal flora as important, he leaves out discussion of the necessity of adequate vitamins A and D. Our modern diets are inadequate for intestinal health not merely because of a fiber issue, but that we lack the crucial components that are found in healthy cultures, in our diets that allow us to absorb nutrients and maintain proper digestive function.
He cautions the reader of problems with switching to a low-fiber diet in the first stages; that it is important to gradually cut down on fiber and make sure you are getting adequate fats and foods that build the intestinal flora. As stools are smaller, the urge to go to the bathroom will be less pronounced, so it is very important to pay attention to the "urge" signal so that the stools don't harden and cause constipation. Interestingly, he points out that a healthy stool is easy to pass, rather small in diameter and is mostly composed of bacteria leaving the body as proteins are digested completely before hand. He also sites that fiber is not necessary to have regular stools, as we have been led to believe, and that some of the healthiest cultures had very little fiber in their diets.
If you're worried about getting enough nutrients in your diet from cutting down on raw vegetables and fruits, remember nutrient-dense foods contain concentrated nutrients from the animals that "chowed" down on literally bushels of fresh green grass to produce a food that contains all of the vitamins and minerals found in fresh produce and more, in a concentrated form that is easy to digest. Also, if you have suffered from any digestive disorder, it is difficult to absorb the vitamins and minerals from raw produce, and raw produce can be extremely irritating to the intestinal tract and keep it from healing. When healing from any digestive disorder, beet kvass, fermented vegetables, vegetables in bone broth soups and steamed vegetables with butter are much better tolerated.
From a perspective of the benefits that a low fiber diet has to optimal digestion, following the Weston Price Foundation's principles of eating nutrient-dense foods for building health will lead you in this same direction. Many thanks to Konstantin Monastyrsky for writing this important book.