Where should fiber come from?

Ray had the usual protuberant belly overhanging his beltline of someone who was over-reliant on processed starches, particularly wheat.

After all, he ran a sandwich bakery. He sheepishly admitted that he ate the products of his own production line every day while at work, even bringing a few sandwiches home.

At 5 ft 10 inches, 201 lbs, he wasn't terribly overweight, but all the excess was in his beltline. He had the lipoproteins to match: HDL 38 mg/dl, triglycerides 180 mg/dl, 83% of all LDL particles were small, excess VLDL and IDL. Blood pressure: 140/88. Blood sugar: 112 mg/dl.

With a CT heart scan score of 698, Ray had some work to do.

Among the strategies we discussed was a need to dramatically reduce, perhaps eliminate, wheat products and other high-glycemic index foods.

"You've got to be kidding me!" Besides the inconsistency with his business, he was puzzled on what foods were edible for his pattern. We discussed how he could easily replace his reliance on wheat and breads with more vegetables, more fruits, more lean proteins, and more healthy oils.

"But I won't get any fiber!" he declared. That was why he tried to choose whole wheat bread for his sandwiches.

This is a common concern when we discuss how grains, particuarly wheat, need to be sharply reduced. In the most recent edition of his Paleo Diet Newsletter, Dr. Loren Cordain has laid out a wonderful graph that beautifully illustrates the issue:

(From The Paleo Diet Newsletter at http://www.thepaleodiet.com/newsletter/back_issues.shtml)

In other words, reducing or eliminating "fiber-rich" grains and replacing their calories dramatically increases fiber content of your diet.

For Ray, whose livelihood depends on promoting and perpetuating the use of wheat breads, it will be tough to keep him on the right track. My prediction: the results he will see will be substantial and it will become difficult to return to eating his own products.

There's no doubt that this concept can be economically disruptive for many people, including Ray. It's a tough situation we've created: a huge industrial complex based on growing grains and wheat, processing it into breakfast cereals, bagels, pretzels, crackers, and sandwiches. But it has also contributed to the epidemic of obesity and the patterns that people like Ray have.

But the startling fact remains: If replaced with vegetables and fruits, reducing grains increases the fiber content of your diet, and not jsut a little bit, but enormously. If green peppers and spinach had brand names like "Fiber One" and "Smart Start" along with flashy boxes, then maybe it would be an easier concept to grasp.

To sign up for Dr. Cordain's wonderfully informative newsletter, go to http://www.thepaleodiet.com/newsletter/back_issues.shtml.

Comments (1) -

  • JT

    7/7/2007 1:24:00 PM |

    Good to learn that wheat is bad for heart health and that other food sources provide greater beneficial fiber amounts.  It can be hard to socially avoid wheat completely at first.  As a society a lot of how we interact with each other revolves around food.  But I've found when i say I avoid wheat for heart health, others seem to be understanding.