Richard G. Petty, MD

How Does Fiber Help You?

Unless you’ve been living on Mars (!), you will doubtless have heard of the advantages of increasing the amount of fiber in your diet. A high-fiber diet reduces your risk of colon cancer, constipation, hemorrhoids hypercholesterolemia and insulin resistance syndrome.

We have always wanted to know how fiber does so many magical things at once, and now we may an answer. In a paper published in the open-access Public Library of Science Biology today, by a group from one our local institutions – the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta – collaborating with a researcher from Josai University, Sakado, Saitama in Japan.

The epithelial cells lining the intestine have a life span measured in 1-5 days. They spend their short life times working to process enormous amounts of food residue on its way past. It is this layer of cells that acts as the barrier between the body and items floating past on the inside of the intestine.

Long before it became the topic of some popular books are over-enthusiastic magazine articles, we became very interested in the idea of the “Leaky gut:” the concept that some illnesses are a result of breakdown of the normal integrity of this protective barrier. Over 20 years ago, a friend and colleague at Northwick Park Hospital – Ingvar Bjarnason – did some pioneering work on this important issue. Several recent studies have indicated that a breakdown of this barrier may be involved in several childhood illnesses including allergies and asthma. There is also some early information suggesting that “leaky gut” may be involved in some autoimmune processes involving the intestine. Both zinc supplementation and oats may prevent gut leakiness under certain very specific circumstances.

When the epithelial cells in the gut wall encounter indigestible fibrous foods, the outer covering of the cell ruptures, releasing a coating of cell-protecting mucus. In a matter of seconds, the cell begins to repair itself, in the process releasing yet more of the beneficial mucus. Not only does it lubricate, but also it may keep some carcinogens and allergens out of your system.

The constant buffeting of the cells causes mild damage that increases the level of lubricating mucus. Injury at the cellular level promotes the health of the gastrointestinal tract as a whole.

Here we see a basic principle of nature: many of the same things that apply in the cells of the body apply equally in the life of someone trying to achieve success. Without the buffeting, the cells of the intestine could not produce the mucus on which your life depends.

Without some occasional adversity, you will find it more difficult to grow as a human being.

“Storms make oaks take deeper root.”
— George Herbert (English Religious Poet, 1593-1633)

“He who knows no hardships will know no hardihood. He who faces no calamity will need no courage. Mysterious though it is, the characteristics in human nature which we love best grow in a soil with a strong mixture of troubles.”
–Harry Emerson Fosdick (American Clergyman, Writer and Broadcaster, 1878-1969)

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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