eat more fiber to put those toxins where they belong: in the toilet bowl
Have you noticed a trend with some of the little ways you can detox every day? A lot of them have to do with what you should or should not put in your mouth. Here’s another thing you should stick in your mouth: fiber.
Fiber helps you poop. Pooping is a natural means to detoxify. We were made to get the crap out. By eating fiber, you are beefing up your body’s own natural route of elimination. A high fiber diet can prevent a number of health conditions, including atherosclerosis and several different types of cancers. Why do you think fiber can ward off so many different diseases? Because it plays a central role in getting inflammatory and carcinogenic toxins out of your body.
Fiber pulls toxins out of your body and into your poop. If you don’t eat enough fiber, the toxins either hang out in your colon a lot longer than they should or they get re-absorbed back into your body. Fiber gets them out for good. Remember, we want toxins out as soon as possible. For this very reason, fiber is especially crucial on a therapeutic detox, but if you’re eating the amount you should every day, you’re preventing the build-up of toxins in the first place.
If you want to learn about the exact physiology of why fiber is so detox friendly, you can look up enterohepatic circulation of bile salts. Basically, the liver spits out the toxins in the bile. The bile, along with the toxins, goes into the intestines. After the bile helps to digest your food, your intestinal flora changes its structure to prepare it for re-absorption. This means that it goes back into your body. Your body likes to conserve things, so most of the bile is recycled in this manner. Fiber interrupts this recycling loop. It binds to the bile (toxins included) and puts it in your poop. When you pull bile out of the recycling loop, it forces your liver to make new bile (this is how fiber can lower cholesterol).
Fiber also removes heavy metals from the body. Heavy metals can be included under the umbrella term ‘toxins’, but I wanted to highlight them here because this is significant! Heavy metals, particularly mercury and lead, are secreted in the bile when the liver is trying to get rid of them. That means if you eat enough fiber, you can help your body eliminate these heavy metals. When your diet is lacking in fiber, heavy metals are reabsorbed, going back into your body. This is why a low fiber diet can be so damaging. You lose the protection that a high fiber diet provides, allowing heavy metals, carcinogens, and other toxins to roam around your body.
A lot of people like to think they eat a lot of fiber, but if you live in the United States, you probably don’t. The average dietary fiber intake in the United States is about 15g a day, way below the recommended 25-38g we should be consuming daily.1 If you want to see if you ate enough fiber today, you can look up almost any food in the USDA Nutrient Database.
1. Slavin, JL. “Position of the American Dietetic Association: health implications of dietary fiber.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009 Feb;109(2):350.
2. The World’s Healthiest Foods. <http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=38>.