Getting A Lesson About the Best Fiber to Eat for Digestive Health

by Dorian Martin Patient Advocate

As I write this, I'm eating a salad, complete with multiple types of lettuce, celery, carrots, bell pepper, tomatoes, red onion, avocado, and bleu cheese, with a smattering of extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. Good for the heart, good for the head, but - as it turns out - not the type of fiber that's good for the gut, according to Dr. Wes Jones, a gastroenterologist and author of "Cure Constipation Now" (which was provided to me to review).

Instead, Dr. Jones recommends a regimen that includes fiber laxative supplements (such as Metamucil and Benefiber) and the addition of high-fiber cereals and breads. However, he notes that you'll need to read the fine print when buying high-fiber cereals and breads since the food industry has focused its efforts on improving taste, as opposed to gut health. "Most 'high-fiber' whole wheat and whole-grain breads and pastas sold in the United States are not a good source of high-quality fiber from the gut's viewpoint," he said. "There are a few exceptions, such as Fiber Five bread sold by Great Harvest." Cereals that he recommends include Quick Quaker Oats, Kellogg's Mini-Wheats, General Mills Fiber One, Kellogg's Raisin Bran, and Kashi GOLEAN.

Using his recommended regiment, Dr. Jones believes you should be having a high-quality bowel movement 3-5 times a day. That seemed high to me, but he assured me that his patients have had tremendous success in achieving that goal. The doctor noted that many people only have bowel movements once or twice a month, which is tolerated by the body. "It's much harder to get bowels started when they shut down. And that food is sitting in you for that period of time and there will be major consequences on down the road. Why do people let stuff decompose inside themselves?" Dr. Jones said, adding that a clue as to whether you're constipated is whether your bowel movement has a foul odor.

And what can a digestive system well-tuned by Dr. Jones' fiber regimen do for you? Dr. Jones said his regiment has significantly helped his patients who suffered from gas, functional abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, heartburn, acid reflux, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac sprue, diverticulosis, depression and fatigue. And although he doesn't have the research to back it up, Dr. Jones has developed a theory that a high-fiber diet can remove body toxins that can lead to cancer and Alzheimer's disease. "Like an aquarium, your body uses filtration systems to remove toxic waste materials," Dr. Jones wrote in his book. "Dietary fiber scrubs your bile as it circulates in your body, which is second in importance only to your kidneys in ejecting toxins outside your body."

This book made a lot of sense. I appreciated the numerous case studies that described the issues that Dr. Jones' patients were facing and the difference that the fiber diet made for each of them. I figure that the regiment is worth trying, especially as a preventative measure since I haven't faced any of the issues mentioned earlier (with the exception of periodic acid reflux). And most of all, I want to do everything I can to prevent Alzheimer's disease, which seems to run on my mother's side of the family.

Another plus in embracing this system is the chance to avoid taking lots of medications (which I personally avoid like the plague). "Gastroenterology doctors are giving people pills and those pills are not working," Dr. Jones said. "This book has the potential to change how physicians manage their patients' illnesses. And I believe my fiber program can reduce health costs."

Dorian Martin
Meet Our Writer
Dorian Martin

Dorian Martin writes about various topics for HealthCentral, including Alzheimer’s disease, diet/exercise, menopause and lung cancer. Dorian is a health and caregiving advocate living in College Station, TX. She has a Ph.D. in educational human resource development. Dorian also founded I Start Wondering, which encourages people to embrace a life-long learning approach to aging. She teaches Sheng Zhen Gong, a form of Qigong. Follow Dorian on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram at @doriannmartin.