Television and the Internet bombard us with the next best superfoods or supplement often claiming benefits that are unproven or untested. Products like acai berries, probiotics, lycopene, and green coffee come to mind as the most recent darlings of the supplement craze.
Dietary fiber stays in the intestines and is not absorbed or digested. It can modulate the digestion of other nutrients and affect the consistency of the stool. It is made up of soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and can be found in most fruits, oats, barley, peas and beans.
Insoluble fiber comes from plant cells and does not dissolve in water. It can be found in wheat, rye, vegetables and wheat bran. Fiber adds bulk to the stool, making it softer and easier to pass without needing the use of laxatives or stool softeners.
A diet rich in fiber will often make cleaning up prior to any bedroom activities easier because fiber acts like a lint brush of sorts, cleaning up any residue or debris and making our post clean bottoms even cleaner.
The recommended amount of dietary fiber is 20 to 35 grams per day. The fiber content of most foods can be found online or on nutrition labels. Breakfast cereals and/or oatmeal can be a very good source of extra fiber.
Another simple solution is to replace white rice and white bread with brown rice and whole-grain breads. For those who do not like high-fiber foods, there are a number of fiber supplements on the market, many consisting of psyllium. For those that do shakes, smoothies, and pre and post workout drinks, 1-2 tbsp of a tasteless and odorless clear fiber can make a huge difference.
When starting a fiber supplement, it is important to start slowly and to use adequate amounts of non-diuretic fluids. Avoid sugary or caffeinated drinks. This will help to avoid gas, bloating and cramping which can occur if too much fiber is ingested too quickly. Be wary of fiber pills or fiber bars as they are often lower in fiber than the powders and not enough fluid is ingested with them.
Changes in bowel movements, diarrhea and constipation can all be normal from time to time, but if you feel that these affect your life daily even with proper fiber, you ought to seek medical care as there are often reversible causes and lifestyle modifications that can be made to take control over your life and not live in the bathroom.
Dr. Schochet is a colon and rectal surgeon practicing at South Florida Colorectal Institute in Aventura. He has the largest anal cancer prevention program in South Florida and captains the Happy Hiney Florida AIDS walk teamraising over $270,000 for local charities over the last four years.