If you’ve spent any time at all looking at various colon cleansing and/or detoxification programs (also known as cleansing, cleaning, internal cleaning, detoxing, detoxifying, and “spring cleaning”), you’ve undoubtedly seen fiber as a main ingredient in many – if not all – such programs. And it’s no wonder: fiber exhibits incredible health effects on the colon and is good for promoting health and wellness in other regards, as well.
Most people are aware that fiber improves bowel function. If you up your fiber intake, you can notice your bowels functioning better in as little as 24 hours. This is because dietary fiber absorbs water as it moves through the intestines, thus providing bulk and softening stools. That means less straining and pushing with bowel movements. Fiber also can absorb toxins that are released naturally via our innate detoxification systems and aid in their expulsion from the body.
Because fiber bulks up, softens stool and sweeps the intestines clean on its way through, it also decreases the “transit time”; of the food you eat. There is 20-30 feet of intestinal tubing in your body and everything you eat has to eventually make its way from start to finish. It takes about 10 hours for food to go from your mouth to your colon, but the length of time it can sit in the colon can vary dramatically. A diet containing enough fiber will result in a transit time of between 10-50 hours; the typical American, however, whose diet is very low in this essential nutrient, has an average transit time of 65-100 hours. You want your metabolic waste products to leave your body as quickly and efficiently as possible; every extra hour that you play host to impacted fecal matter allows disease-producing yeasts and bacteria to multiply. Additionally, the fast you move waste through your colon, the less environmental and dietary toxins have time to come in contact with the highly-absorbent lining of the colon.
Fiber has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels. While the exact mechanism by which this occurs isn’t completely understood, studies confirm that higher intakes of dietary fiber lower the level of harmful (LDL) cholesterol while simultaneously raising the valuable and protective (HDL) cholesterol levels.
Another quality of regular, increased fiber intake of which most people are not aware is that it protects against chronic degenerative diseases. In the long run, daily intake of adequate amounts of dietary fiber protects against the risk of a number of chronic diseases. It’s anti-toxic properties, combined with its ability to nourish “friendly” intestinal bacteria and its swelling and colon-sweeping actions in the colon all contribute to long-term health. Some of the diseases that can be side-stepped by maintaining an adequate intake of fiber include colon and rectal cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, among others.
One relatively recent discovery is that fiber also normalizes blood sugar. By slowing the release of sugar into the bloodstream, fiber prevents an exhausting demand for the release of insulin. In fact, fiber is so effective at helping to slow the uptake of sugar into the bloodstream that even insulin-dependent diabetics may be able to reduce their required dose of insulin if they increase their intake of dietary fiber!