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How Much Fiber To Eat, Where To Get Your Fiber, And Is Fiber *Really* Killing Your Insides?

A couple months ago, I published an extremely controversial guest article: Is Fiber Bad For You? The Top 12 Myths And The Real Truth About Whether Fiber Is Killing Your Insides.

96 comments later, it still seems some confusion persists about exactly how much fiber to eat, where to get your fiber, and whether fiber really is a dangerous villain that is killing your insides.

So today, in my interview with health researcher Konstantin Monastyrsky, the original author of that article, you're going to find everything you need to know about out why he says that fiber is bad.

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In my discussion with Konstantin, who is author of the book “Fiber  Menace“, you'll find out:

-The 5 minute cliff notes version of why he's not a fan of fiber…

-Why it is that doctors tell use to eat plenty of fiber…and what doctors don't know…

-How much fiber is “too much”, and how much does it vary from person to person…

-What is the best source of the fiber? For example, is there a difference between just eating lots of fruits and vegetables vs. using a high fiber “cleanse”?

-Which are the more dangerous “laxatives” out there…

-What someone with constipation can do if high fiber and laxatives is not the solution…

-And much more!

If you want to try any of Konstantin's supplements for healing the gut or eliminating constipation, or read his book “The Fiber Menace”, simply click here.

Questions, comments or feedback about how much fiber to eat? Leave them below! And if you enjoyed this podcast, you may also want to check out Zen Of Taking A Good Poop

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36 thoughts on “How Much Fiber To Eat, Where To Get Your Fiber, And Is Fiber *Really* Killing Your Insides?

  1. Hi,

    Interesting stuff. Makes sense to me given my experience that less fiber works better for me.

    Is there a chart somewhere that shows how much of the fiber in common fruits and vegetables is in the peel? That would give me an incentive to peel foods, if I knew that peeling made a huge difference.

  2. I appreciate this discussion but I am disappointed by Konstantin's delivery. He seems very aggressive in his beliefs and it is distracting from his main points. I understood his main point to be that there are major health impacts of too much fiber including diabetes and that fiber has been oversold as a cure to GI problems. He also seems to make the point that having a healthy gut flora is important. However, I was disappointed that Ben did not press him to provide evidence for his assertion. He provided some evidence of the lack of a connection between fiber and cancer in his article but not in the podcast. Where are the studies that back up his assertions about the damage that fiber can cause? He criticized other people for not citing literature but he seemed more interested in calling others idiots instead of building his case. I'm a vegetarian and eat a lot of fiber. This diet definitely seems to increase gas in me but I haven't thought that there are any other health impacts beyond the gas. I'm interested in hearing more about the potential health impacts of too much natural fiber in vegetarians.

      1. Chris, thank you for listening! I've been doing live talk radio several times weekly for the past 15 years, and this format requires "projecting" in order to keep listeners engaged. Whenever I touch a controversial subject that is a complete opposite of the predominant groupthink, I may come across as "aggressive" the way pundits often do. So I understand Cam's reaction, and thank you very much for voicing your alternative impression.

    1. Cam,

      Prior to invitng me to participate in this podcast, Ben read Fiber Menace and my site. Both contain a chuck-full of academic references in support of my "assault" on fiber. If this would be otherwise, I wouldn't be Ben's guest. Please follow this link, and you wouldn't be disappointed: http://goo.gl/WFrfN

    2. I completely agree with your point of view. I am a curent medical student and I have done my work on reviewing of literature and can identify correlative science when I hear it. I believe Mr. Konstantin was aggressive, and if he wishes to not appear that way he should specifically quote a few studies with details to prove a point rather than simply state very serious and possibly damaging ideas such as fiber causes type I diabetes. If that doesn't "catch" the attention of the audience, then the studies are simply not compelling enough. Correlative science only requires authors and speakers to cherry pick topics to sound legitimate, and I unfortunately believe that is what Mr. Konstantin is doing. Too much fiber might cause GI issues greater than just gas, but the fantastical dramatization and serious accusations Mr. Konstantin is making is both unprofessional and damaging to listeners.

  3. Gaby, in general, refined flour is, indeed, better for people who are sensitive to fiber than the same from whole grain because the latter contains bran, an insoluble fiber. Leafy greens are mostly water, and little fiber, but it all depends on the amount and intestinal health. If you do get bloated after eating salads, fiber in them is to blame…

  4. Half way through and it's fascinating! Also disturbing at the same time because of all the misconceptions we were led to believe.
    So I was wondering what's the take on flour. Is white flour better than whole grain because it has less fiber? What about leafy greens, are they bad too?

  5. Whoa! Put the brakes on!?
    Magnesium is bad for the GI? As professed by Mr. Konstantin.
    I use 1tbsp of Natural Calm 30 min before bedtime and also take a magnesium malate caplet since i am concerned of my mag to calcium ratio.
    And yes too much can be explosive. I tried two tbsp and found one is safer.

    1. Magnesium by itself is an essential mineral and key electrolyte (Mg2+) along with calcium, potassium, sodium, and chloride, It is especially important for athletes because of its role in muscle function. That said, too much magnesium in the form of Milk of Magnesia and Epsom Salts can be harmful. Here is a little blurb from my site:

      "Milk of Magnesia is an 8% water solution of magnesium hydroxide, Mg(OH)2. It has strong antacid properties, and interferes with gastric digestion if taken with food. Individuals with impaired kidneys may develop toxic levels of magnesium from extended use of Milk of Magnesia. Epsom Salts is a brand name for magnesium sulfate. It‘s more potent than Milk of Magnesia because it absorbs faster, and may cause severe diarrhea, if overdosed. The risks in each are similar." http://goo.gl/IZd08

      The preparation that I recommend (Hydro-C, same link as above) for managing sporadic or chronic constipation, and related complications, such as enlarged hemorrhoids, anal fissures, incomplete emptying, rectal distention, IBS-C, and similar uses magnesium as well, but the amount is small and synergisitic with other electrolytes.

      1. It would be good to get an idea of suitable use of mag supplements and Epsom salts. I know Ben has said that he (or used to at least) bathe weekly in an ancient minerals magnesium flake bath, plus use oxygenated magnesium for constipation/improved bowel movements. Is this sort of usage likely to be toxic. It is hard to gauge as there has been so much emphasis on magnesium deficiency. I know magnesium has helped me by clearing up migraines and improving sleep. In my experience the laxative effect was great for couple weeks then wore off pretty quick. Thanks.

        1. David, bath isn't the same as ingesting. Oxygenated magnesium is the worse because if it works as advertised, the oxygen release will eviscerate intestinal flora. If you are concerned about magnesium deficiency, just take quality Cal/Mag supplements with plenty of fat, and vitamins D3 and K2.

    1. Chewing well helps a bit for adults to prevent intestinal obstruction and appendicitis, but doesn't work well for small children and older adults with dental issues because they really can't "chew well," Also, “chewing well” fibrous foods wears out teeth pretty bad from mechanical friction for good — unlike ruminant (grass-eating) animals, humans can't regrow teeth.

  6. I have had a total collectomy and with no large intestine, I require an extra helping of psyllium husks twice a day just to keep somewhat 'normal'. If there was a better way to do it, I'd sure like to hear it. I recently started using pure psyllium husks instead of the metamucil type. Sure makes a big difference.

    1. Shon, the physiology of the small intestine is very different from the large intestine. You aren’t going to encounter any damage from psyllium when used in moderation. And make sure to drink plenty of water, so it doesn’t clog. You are not likely to experience any side effects typical for the colon.

    1. Trey, this isn't my “philosophy…” My entire book was written based on the most up-to-date academic research. I simply compiled whatever the scientific data was available at that time into a readable book. And because the damages are so insidious and take so long to develop, it is kind of hard relating to them while consuming loads of fiber in younger years. Please start by reading the original post on Ben's site, and explore from there. The preponderance of evidence is simply overwhelming.

  7. I'm listening to this now while I work. Konstantin is a trip! I like him, and am pretty shocked at what he has to say. Thank you for bringing such knowledgeable people who are not afraid to share real information that may not be popular with the masses.

  8. Only half-way through as lunch break is over, but very much enjoying this one so far. Though Konstantin sounds like a mix between Borat and the Meercat from UK TV Commercials for 'Compare The Market' (UK listeners will understand!), he clearly knows his stuff and it is hard not to assoicate some level of gravitas with what he is saying.

    Looking forward to hearing the non-fibre constipation relief methods at the end of the podcast, and I hope they aren't all just supplements he is selling – a little bit of tradition round these parts Ben, though I love your output so I won't complain too much ;-)

    I am going down a probiotic approach, with extra virgin olive oil and unfiltered apple cider vinegar daily, so far so good.

    Constiptation can be such a frustrating condition, god knows I've had my bouts. A good dump can really make the difference between a great day and a…I'm gonna say it….crap one. Good luck to anyone battling constipation, and may we all optimise the health of our guts! It is such a massive part of the puzzle of becoming, as BG would say, Superhuman.

    To your silky poop!

    1. Well, perhaps the Ukrainian version of Borat… And replace olive oil and vinegar with regular butter from free-range cows… Same effect on stools, better for your health, and none of the toxicity or acidity from too much plant oil or vinegar.

      1. Not a fan of olive oil in diet at all or just not a tablespoon a day type dose? I do eat grass fed butter also, but the oil on an empty stomach does seem to get the bile pumping and get things going…too much info?! :) wont the apple cider vinegar offset some of the acidity?Don’t tell me these things are bad too, I’ve already shelved the psyllium husk I bought last week after reading these articles!! :)

        Maybe Ill ditch the extra olive oil once totally sorted and in ‘maintenance mode’.

        I did only say a hint of Borat ;)

        1. David,

          The effect that you are experiencing isn't so much related to eating butter, oil, or consuming vinegar, but to a simple act of eating, which in turn stimulates gastrocolic effect and peristaltic mass movement — the two conditions that precipitate and stimulate bowel movement. Yes, the bile does that too (stimulates profuse bowel movement), but not as fast, and not when consumed with fats.

          If you are enjoying butter, you can safely ditch the olive oil. It's Ok in moderation with salads, but that's about it.

          Don't mind the Borat joke. The Eastern European accent is what it is. In all other respects, I am not as tall, not as hairy, not as oversexed (anymore), and not as funny as Sasha Baron Cohen.

          1. hmm well i was eating every morning anyway, but only the olive oil has had the desired effect – constipated people eat all the time anyway, no!? Is there no evidence that olive oil helps to lubricate things? You say yourself in the podcast I high fat diet can help with constipation, is that one of the reasons? Also, I read there is something in olive oil that slightly irritaes the gut lining and stimulates peristaltic mass movement, does that ring true at all? Finally EVOO by definition is low acidity (<0.8% i think?), so I am not too concerned about that side of things. EVOO is just very convient, cant really invisage me rolling out of bed to be greeting by a tbls of butter, and bulletproof coffee was never my thing! Ulitmately, surely I am better off reaching for the EVOO than the pysllium ;) Thanks for all your responses!! David.

          2. and final final thing to note is the prevalence of extra virgin olive oil in the Mediterranean diet, where often life expectancies are amongst the best in the world. Many Mediterranean’s swear by a half cup of EVOO every morning (gag)!

          3. Mediterranean countries enjoy high life expectancy because of low impact lifestyle, clean environment, high quality local foods, minimal amount of processed foods, "minimally invasive" doctoring, and extensive social safety net for all citizenry. The rate of obesity in Greece is one of the highest in Europe, though.

          4. David,

            In general, fats don't reach the colon at all. If they do, it takes 10 to 20 hours, and if any detected in the stools, that's a medical pathology. Fats (all kinds) do stimulate gallbladder, which, in turn, may stimulate gastrocolic reflex. If it works for you, on tablespoon a day isn't like to cause any harm, if it is all that it takes. The acidity of oil olive depends on the brand, and some are quite acidic. It is measured in pH, not %%. The lower pH — from 1 to 7 — means higher acidity.

            I don't know if olive oil has an inflammatory effect on the gut's lining. Don't recall seeing anything like this in the literature.

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