Bowl of Cereal

A Healthy High Fiber Diet May Not Be What You Think

In our last blog post, we talked about the importance of a high fiber diet and how it can help you correct or avoid chronic constipation and the myriad health issues it can cause. Medications and/or enemas aren’t the answer, since each can cause its own set of complications, even having the opposite effect and becoming the cause of constipation themselves.

While the idea of a high fiber diet may sound relatively simple, there’s a lot of misleading information about what constitutes a healthy high fiber diet. Just scour the internet and you’ll see practically every healthy living and medical website recommending high fiber cereals as a good way to get your daily fiber. However, most of these sites aren’t discussing a few important considerations.

If the cereal isn’t organic, it’s probably made with genetically modified (GMO) ingredients.
The safety and health risks of GMOs throughout our food supply—meats, fruits and vegetables—is probably one of the most hotly debated topics today. Gene manipulation in plants, insects and animals has raised concerns among consumers as to its safety for humans as well as for crops and nature in general. And with no long-term studies on their effects on human and animal health prior to releasing these altered genes, there are good reasons for concern. Among them are:

  • the creation of new allergens
  • increasing the level of allergens already present in a food
  • introducing allergens to a food without public knowledge
  • creating more antibiotic-resistant genes
  • increased human exposure to pesticides
  • the unpredictability of altering genes without enough testing for long-term safety and reactions

The wheat, soy, corn and other grains used to make non-organic cereals all contain GMOs, so while they’re touted as being “healthy” in the respect that they may be high in fiber, they’re also potentially harmful because of their genetically-modified ingredients. By choosing a high fiber organic cereal, you’re getting the extra fiber without the risks that GMOs can present.

If your cereal isn’t organic, every spoonful contains dangerous chemicals.
There’s been a lot of news about the dangerous pesticide glyphosate that’s been found in just about every non-organic grain-based cereal on the market. Glyphosate, a key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is an herbicide that has been greatly minimized or banned in 14 other countries (that number continues to rise) due to its strong potential as an endocrine disruptor and for birth defects, its disruption of the reproductive system and destruction of beneficial gut bacteria. It has been classified as a “probable carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.

And that’s just the start, because plenty of other pesticides and fungicides are also used on crops that go into breakfast cereals, including corn, wheat, oats, soy and more. Certified organic cereals not only eliminate these toxic chemicals, they also contain no GMOs. Be careful to choose “certified organic” foods and products rather than those simply marked “non-GMO”—by definition, organic crops and products cannot contain genetically modified ingredients, but products marked only “non-GMO” may not be organic and so may still contain harmful pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.

How much sugar are you starting your day with?

Reading and understanding ingredients and nutritional information on cereal packages is a cornerstone of choosing the right high-fiber cereal. Added sugar can appear in different forms including fructose, dextrose, maltose, sucrose, glucose, lactose and corn syrup; this is also true of terminology used for sodium. Check the serving size as well—what may look like a low amount of sugar could actually be the amount of sugar you get in a very small amount, like a quarter of a cup, which is far less than you’d have in one breakfast serving. It’s also important to remember that starchy ingredients like corn turn to sugars once consumed, adding to the total amount of sugar delivered to your system.

How much fiber is enough and how do I get it safely?

Recommendations vary as to how much fiber we need, ranging from 21 to 38 grams per day, but it’s safe to say that if you base your diet on organic foods high in fiber, you’ll not only get enough to keep you “regular”, but you’ll also be supplying your body with plenty of important and essential nutrients naturally. These include such choices as pears, apples, chia seeds, avocados, raspberries, lentils, artichokes, carrots, oats, almonds, popcorn and many more.

It’s not difficult to reinvent your family’s diet to include high fiber selections that are free from toxic additives, and you’ll be surprised at how much better you feel and how much more energy you have. At the same time, you’ll be strengthening your body’s immune system and creating a healthy gut microbiome, both of which are important to maintaining good health.

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