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Friday, June 1, 2012

Fiber Supplements for Weight Loss - A Few Things to Consider Before Jumping On Board

Everyone's always looking for that magical pill that'll switch on the right mechanism so they can start losing weight fast and get where they want to be faster. And maybe you're not looking for overnight results, but wouldn't life be amazing if some daily supplement could accelerate your initial progress, so you could start looking great and feel better about yourself that much sooner?

Then, just by stabilizing your diet and making all the right moves, you could hold your weight there where you wanted it and start aging with a little more finesse. Hey, we can dream...

But while there might not be completely magical solutions out there, we do hear about a supplement every now and then that's said to give dieters some pretty amazing leverage. One example getting a lot of attention lately is fiber supplements.

But what's the real deal? Is there anything to the hype? Let's have a look.

What Is Fiber Really?

All right, at the risk of boring you to tears, you need to know that there are two different kinds of fiber important to health and nutrition, both typically derived from plant material.

They're known as soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber is viscous. It absorbs water and ferments in your digestive tract, turning into gases and active byproducts. This reaction produces compounds some people think are very beneficial to your health.

Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, is best described as "roughage." It's basically plant material the body cannot digest (more on this later).

The indigestible insoluble fiber just absorbs water and passes right through your digestive system without fermenting and breaking down because there is nothing in a normal human body that it reacts with. It also changes the way you digest other foodstuffs by attracting and holding water molecules from certain materials.

Not to gross you out, the end result is a bigger, often coarser stool travelling through your body faster.

Fiber Supplements For Weight Loss

So where does weight loss factor in?

Some weight loss enthusiasts believe fiber supplements can trim your waistline because they make you feel full, thus stifling your appetite. Fiber is also difficult to break down into energy, and since your digestive system still attempts to convert it into energy, your metabolism speeds up and you burn more calories.

Make sense?

As well as helping you to lose or maintain weight, fiber has also been shown to yield a number of other health benefits. Because of the way it 'wraps up' cholesterol, allowing the body to get rid of it more easily, it can help to lower cholesterol levels. It also binds with fatty acids and slows down blood sugar absorption (a physical reaction of much interest to diabetics).

To go on, fiber is said to improve digestion and alleviate some of the symptoms associated with health problems, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

But here's where things get interesting...

The Dangers of Fiber

While most government organizations still promote adding huge amounts of dietary fiber to your diet - almost comically so - there is a lot of new research suggesting excessive fiber intake may be extremely dangerous.

Think about it and it makes perfect sense - weight loss and health enthusiasts basically rely on fiber because it's an INDIGESTIBLE MATERIAL.

And it's easy to see why digesting materials the body is not meant to digest could be a potentially bad idea, wreaking havoc on your digestive system and overall health over the long-term.

Konstantin Monastyrsky writes in his alarming book, "Fiber Menace," about a huge range of problems caused by excess fiber. He argues that we have not possessed the technology to process insoluble fiber into food products for very long and, as a result, our bodies have not yet learned to manage the stuff.

Again, it's indigestible!

Effects he warns about include loss of control over the bowels (to the point of depending on laxatives), appendicitis, chronic constipation, rectal bleeding, diverticular disease, and increased risk of colon cancer.

This list, only the beginning of a longer one that reads like a nerve-wracking pharmaceutical commercial, is in exact opposition of everything our society has been told about fiber.

But the evidence is very compelling.

Now, don't freak out because fiber is not going to necessarily kill you or turn your intestines into the Texas Chainsaw Massacre as long as you don't overdo it...hint, hint. Stick to getting small quantities of it from natural foods that haven't been processed - this natural stuff is typically soluble and doesn't mess with your body the way insoluble fiber does.

As far as fiber affecting your appetite and thus aiding in weight loss, at the end of the day, if the growing concerns of fiber are true, losing a few pounds a little faster is never worth the damage it can do your body.

Not Ready to Sign On with the Anti-Fiber Crowd?

Maybe you're not ready to give up on fiber and still aren't convinced the stuff is even bad for you. Mainstream fiber buffs have got their claws in you and they're not letting go...

You still might want to hold back a little bit on jumping on the supplement bandwagon and instead start educating yourself more about the benefits of a good diet, what "good diet" actually means, and how it can change your body and your life.

As indicated in the beginning of this article, supplements are a product of the magic pill phenomenon, and while some do have their benefits, there are dangers as well. For instance, did you know dietary supplements have no warning labels?

In fact, no purity standards are set in place at all, and since supplements are labeled as food, they are largely free of federal oversight.

A recent CBS News article by Sue Chan warns, "Some may inhibit blood clotting. St. John's Wort may negate birth control pills, while Melatonin has been linked to seizures in children."

And the real problem with these "mays" and "mights" is that someone has to prove a supplement (or food) to be dangerous before it can be yanked off the shelves - a far cry from the way we handle pharmaceuticals. Not to mention it's hard to prove a supplement is hurting people when the companies who sell them are not even required to report complaints.

Look, this is my take:

Have you ever noticed how the "supplement crowd" is always so quick to remind us that we should make sure to get our fiber (or whatever nutrient they're promoting) from natural food rich in that nutrient as well?

If supplements are so amazing, why the emphasis on getting your daily dose from natural foodstuffs? I dare suggest they're covering their own rear ends, knowing that getting the nutrients you need from real food is really where it's at.

Certainly food for thought.

And, knowing that all the healthy stuff your body needs to stay trim, healthy, and sexy can be found through the right natural food diet, that's where you should focus your energy.

It really is the key to a long and happy life.

Knowledge, based on fact, is a powerful weight loss tool! At you can read more articles that will give you the accurate, reliable information you NEED to lose weight successfully and keep it off permanently! The author of this article is Lynda Keating.

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