[Transcript] – How Much Fiber To Eat, Where To Get Your Fiber, And Is Fiber *Really* Killing Your Insides?

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Podcast from:  https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/nutrition-podcasts/how-much-fiber-to-eat/

[00:00] Introduction and Special Announcements

[07:37] Why Konstantin is Not a Fan of Fiber

[21:28] How Much Fiber is “Too Much”, and How Much Does it Vary From Person to Person

[27:40] Which are The More Dangerous “Laxatives” Out There

[31:14] What Someone with Constipation Can Do if High Fiber and Laxatives is not the Solution

[47:21] End of Podcast

Ben:  Welcome to the BenGreenfiledFitness.com podcast.  This is Ben and if you missed the podcast on Monday then you missed the announcement that I am actually over in Vietnam right now competing in a triathlon that actually takes place this Sunday called the Laguna Lang Triathlon.  Don’t worry, I’ll put a bunch of updates out on the Facebook.com/BGFitness page if you want to predict my race time and win some cool swag and stuff like that.  But, in the meantime, that’s why Brock isn’t with me today for this episode and that’s why it might sound a little bit different.

So, today in this special episode, we are revisiting a controversial topic of fiber and a couple months ago on the BenGreenfieldFitness.com website I published an extremely controversial guest article entitled “Is Fiber Bad for You?: The Top 12 Myths and the Real Truth About Whether Fiber Is Killing Your Insides.”  Well, 96 comments later on that blog post, it still seems like some confusion persists about exactly how much fiber to eat and where to get your fiber and whether fiber really is a dangerous villain that is killing your insides.

So, in today’s episode, I have Konstantin Monastyrsky on the line and we’re going to talk about everything you need to know about fiber.  If you still are confused and you have more questions after this episode, just head over to BenGreenfieldFitness.com where I have the show notes for this podcast.  Now, just a couple things I wanted to mention before we jump in: first of all, and you may have missed this if you didn’t listen in to Monday’s episode, the official video, audio, slides, takeaway notes, and DVDs are now available from the Become Superhuman Live event and I’m going to put a link in the show notes for this episode down at the bottom of the show notes where you can click to get them now, and that’s everything that allows you to experience that live event in HD format.  It’s really, really cool information.

A couple of other things I wanted to mention is that for the members of my inner circle, in just about a week on Saturday the 26th, I’m going to be doing a live Spreecast entitled “Ask Me Anything About Minimalist Triathlon Training.”  So, if you want to join the inner circle, it’s ten bucks a month and I know that there are a lot of other membership websites out there in the podcasting community charging 50 bucks of 97 dollars a month or something like that, and I’m trying to make this just, really, an affordable experience for pretty much any listener to the podcast.  So, you can check that out over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/InnerCircle and get in on all of the live Spreecasts that we do and we recently did one called “How To Create Superhuman Kids” and of course replays for all that stuff are also available on the inner circle.  We’ve got 600 forum thread topics going right now and there are over 20 different webinars; there’s over 40 different bonuses and PDF downloads and all sorts of stuff for you over there.  So, check that out.

And, I think that’s all that I’m going to bore you with for special announcements today.  So, let’s go ahead and jump into this interview with Konstantin.  And, again, if you have questions and follow-ups, go ahead and surf over to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and leave your comments in the show notes.  I know this fiber stuff can seem kind of confusing and almost frustrating to know what’s good and what’s bad.  So, I’d encourage you to join the conversation over there and let’s go ahead and jump in.

Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield and if you have been a fan of the website bengreenfieldfitness.com of late, you may know about a rather controversial article that was published there by my guest today.  It was an article that discussed the myths about fiber and it seems to have really strike a chord with folks because, of course, we’re all lead to believe that fiber is God’s gift to mankind.  And, the guy that I have on the call today actually wrote a book called Fiber Menace: The Truth about Fiber’s Role in Diet Failure, Constipation, Hemorrhoids, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis, Crone’s Disease, and Colon Cancer”.  And, this is certainly not the view of fiber that we’re used to getting.  And, the name of my guest is Konstantin Monastyrsky and I’m really hoping I didn’t just butcher your name, Konstantin.  And, he graduated from medical university in 1977 with a Pharmacy degree, he’s a certified nutritional consultant and an expert in forensic nutrition which is a field of science that looks into the connection between supposedly healthy foods and nutrition related disorders like diabetes and obesity.

Now, I first found Konstantin at the risk of a too-much-information overshare here, when I was constipated.  I actually went through a period of time last year where I had about three or four weeks of pretty severe constipation for which I tried a few popular laxative and cleanse-type of compounds unsuccessfully.  I found this guy; I read his book; I wrote him a few emails; and, long story short, he fixed me over a few weeks.  And in my case, my constipation was due to some antibiotics that I had to go on that messed up my gut and there were some different things I had to do, but ultimately this guy took care of it.  So, he knows what he’s talking about even though it is a controversial view.  So, I am going to shut up now and thank you for coming on the call Konstantin.

Konstantin:  Ben, it’s my pleasure.  Thank you for inviting me to your podcast.  Thank you for allowing my views to be shared with your loyal followers.

Ben:  Yeah, my… our pleasure.

Konstantin:  I absolutely envy you, your youth, your energy, the work you’re doing.  It’s absolutely remarkable.  I wish we will be partners one day in doing something we talked about.  I mean, I’m old and lazy and you’re young and energetic.  So, it’s going to be a good mix.  But, this is not what we’re about to talk about, right, or about how we met over constipation.  What a way to meet you last year!

Ben:  Everybody loves to talk about poop.  Everybody loves to talk about poop on this show.  You know, I know that you did produce this article and of course you’ve written an entire book and whenever I have an author on the show I link to your book in the   show notes.  But, we could of course spend hours and hours talking about everything that’s in your book.  Can you give us the five minutes cliff’s notes version though about why you’re not a fan of fiber?

Konstantin:  Okay, well, first of all, what is fiber?  Fiber is a cellulose, essentially – just a connection of a bunch of molecules of glucose, fructose, galactoses that make a very, very long chain which makes it either insoluble or undigestible… or indigestible.  So, essentially when you consume fiber, it is the same thing as you would be, let’s say, eating toilet paper.  The only difference: toilet paper contains glue to hold it together and it was processed with a different type of machinery.  So, let me ask you a question, will you willingly consume toilet paper or regular paper or wood?  And, you would say no.

Ben:  Yeah, I would definitely say no and I see what you’re saying, but…

Konstantin:  And, it’s exactly what you’re doing when you consume fiber.

Ben:  But with fiber, there are other things that come along with fiber.  I mean, I know that for example it serves as a prebiotic or it can get metabolized or produce fatty acids in your colon which could potentially be used as a fuel and a lot of times it’s wrapped up in all these phytonutrients and things inside fruits and vegetables and things of that nature.  So, what is it exactly about fiber, if we go beyond just the toilet paper analogy and get a little bit more scientific, that would make it bad?

Konstantin:  Ben, it is actually not true that fiber is a prebiotic.  Native human flora does not require prebiotics.  Native human flora resides inside your mucosal layer, mucosal membrane of your large intestine, and it doesn’t require any prebiotic.  And, if you’re using fiber as a prebiotic, all you attain is essentially either inflammatory bowel disease on a later stage or, in an early, irritable bowel syndrome.  Fiber is traditional as an indigestible…

Ben:  When you…  Sorry to interrupt, but when you’re saying “fiber” are you painting with a broad brush?  I mean, are you saying all fiber, say if I were to eat an apple, are you talking more about high fiber supplements, enriched bran cereal, stuff like that?

Konstantin:  Fiber is called indigestible substance.

Ben:  Okay.

Konstantin:  There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.  And when people say it’s indigestible, it means that it will not digest inside the stomach and it will not digest inside the small intestine.  But, after reaching the colon, the large intestine, our large intestine contains a gradual of bacteria and this bacteria will start to ferment fiber – the same process that is used during beer making.  And, in the process of fermentations, both fibers, soluble and, to a much less extent, insoluble will produce the exact same things as produced when making beer or wine – lots of gases, lots of acidity, and lots of alcohols which are very bad for humans, not suitable for stomachs, but for humans because they will assimilate inside the large intestine.  And yes, they will produce also fatty acids, but they will know it will not produce essential fatty acids.  Essential fatty acids can only be obtained through the diet.  So, anyone who is telling you that fiber is a prebiotic, it is nonsense.  A human body does not require a prebiotic.  So, I wish to remind you that there are a lot of people in the world that do not consume fiber at all in their diets and about 30/40 years ago I’m 58, so when I came to the United States in ’78 nobody heard about fibers.  There were some fiber laxative, but that was about it.  In fact, fiber came into prominence in the early 80s right before the early 80s, if you go travel to Europe now, you got France and to Italy and you will see that everybody is peeling fruits and vegetables before they go into your dish or especially before giving them to children.

Ben:  They’re peeling them you said?

Konstantin:  Exactly because if you consume… especially for a child, overconsumption of fiber is a primary reason for little children developing type I diabetes because fiber causes clogging and inflammatory conditions inside their duodenum and that leads to acute pancreatitis or acute colitis which leads to very serious problems in the pancreas and it’s no longer capable of producing insulin for a while and then it’s just inflammatory process develops [12:22]______ reaction and that’s how it cascades into a full-blown type I diabetes.  I described this back on my site for about seven years ago and the same thing in my book.  People are still… if you ask any endocrinologist, pancreatic endocrinologist what is the cause of type I diabetes in children and they say we don’t know.  Again, I know and when you start to go on and investigate how this condition happens in young children, usually it is related to fiber.  And now, we have a catastrophic epidemic of type I diabetes.  It was really never a big issue, it was a very, very small problem, but not it’s a really huge problem for young children especially because they have very small digestive organs.  So, they’re much easier to clog unlike adults.

 Appendicitis in young children when physicians open up the body and they cut out appendicitis, what do they find inside?  Seeds, some fiber, food nutrients that will not digest and assimilate in human body.  And, also, if you go into any book on physiology and you study the structures of stools of fecal matter, it’s 75% water, the rest is just cellular debris and bacteria.  If you detect undigested substances in human stools, that’s very serious problem I say if you have undigested fats or undigested proteins or undigested fibers/carbohydrates, that’s a problem!  And so, this whole thing got perverted and fiber entered into mainstream medicine for what people don’t even know the reason why they enter.  But the reason it became so prominent is because a lot of Westerners developed chronic constipation after taking antibiotics – the exact same situation that you found yourself in recently.  And, physicians didn’t really know how to deal with it on a day-to-day basis other than prescribing some strong medication over-the-counter or by prescription and they said well, fiber probably will help because what fiber will do… why do people develop constipation after taking antibiotics in the first place?  Because broad spectrum antibiotics disseminate your bacteria inside your large intestine and bacteria is essentially a water-binding factor.  It’s a cellular… cells which will retain water and so it’s what makes stool soft and pliable and moist and when bacteria got in stool becomes very hard and very quickly dehydrated and so when you consume fiber, because it can retain water especially indigestible fiber, it kind of becomes a substitute for bacteria.  But, bacteria play a very essential role in human digestion and human health to begin with.  They’re essential for primary immunity, they are essential for producing biotin, it’s one of the most prominent vitamins in the B group and some other B vitamins as well, but biotin is the key one, and it’s also responsible for producing vitamin K which is responsible for blood coagulation.

Ben:   Right.

Konstantin:  And so, when bacteria are gone and you replace it with fiber, you’re causing yourself even more harm.  But yes, if you’re young and your body is supple and you’re lucky, yes, it’ll help you.  It didn’t help you, but helps a lot of people.  So, that’s how it’s working.  But, Ben, there are absolutely no scientific reasons anywhere for fiber consumption.  But, what happens later is, big pharma came into the picture and said… realized you can take essentially bran or psyllium – that’s how your pronounce it, which is essentially, bran…

Ben:  Like Psyllium?  Psyllium MC?

Konstantin:  So, well yeah, and they can use heavy machinery to mill it and then package it in a bottle and it costs nothing!  The most expensive pot of fiber supplements is, apart from itself, the packaging.  What’s inside is worthless because it used to be, like, they would sell bran to feed lots for, let’s say, a dollar per 40-50 kilograms.  So, 100 pounds for a dollar.  And now, if you mill the same stuff that cows don’t even like to eat and put it on the store at RiteAid we can actually sell it for 100,000 markup and make a lot of money.  And then when you go and do this, you start to look for justification why it is good and so you feed people the stupid stories about fiber being prebiotic, about fiber being good for heart disease, about fiber lowering cholesterol, about fiber being protected from colon cancer, about fiber inhibiting appetite, so you don’t gain weight and you don’t overeat, and so forth and so on.  It’s all lies; there is absolutely no scientific proof.

You wouldn’t find any serious academic article that actually says these things and, in fact, one of the, again, going back to the fiber relationship with constipation, back in 1991 FDA said to all the people who were selling fiber supplements as laxatives, it said it’s against the… there is absolutely no proof anywhere that fiber helps constipation.  So, you are not allowed even to claim this.  So, in fact, it is against the law to sell a supplement, a fiber supplement, saying it’s good for constipation.  So, what they know say is it’s good for regularity.  But, trust me, if you become regular, you won’t need fiber because actually it will cause… eventually it will cause constipation.  So, it’s not that my book is controversial, it’s simply we had this perversion of common sense, perversion of logic, perversion of decency, and big pharma came in and now we have this universal group thinks everybody, if you tell people for 20 years that something which is bad is actually good, they will start believing it at one point or another.

Ben:  So, I get what you’re saying about babies peeling the skin of fruit and vegetables to when you’re going to feed it to a child or something like that, but do you personally ever just pick up an apple and eat an apple or would you ever, for example, slice up a cucumber and have that on a salad or something of that nature?  Are those things that you think we need to worry about or you’re more coming at this from a standpoint of a lot of these products that are on the market, like laxative products and high-cleanse type of products.

Konstantin:  Ben, there are two questions in…  You asked me two questions.

Ben:  Yeah I guess it is kind of two questions.  Yeah, you can answer both of them I guess.

Konstantin:  It’s okay.  First question, do we peel what we eat?  Absolutely.  We peel cucumbers, we peel tomatoes, I don’t eat fruits personally because I’m a former diabetic, but yeah, if I were to eat an apple, yes, I would peel it.  Simply because I don’t want… just, peel itself is very, I mean, it has a lot of properties which are not desirable for human digestion.  The whole purpose of the peel is to actually protect the plant from insects, from environment, and so they may contain toxins and they also contains all the environmental garbage that it’s in contact with continuously.  So, yes, for reasons of common sense and good health, you absolutely have to peel everything your children will get or even for adults, but it’s because we know.  We are in the know and actually, when I was growing up, everything that my parents were providing for me was peeled.  And if you go to Italy or France and you go to high end restaurants, everything will be peeled as well, even tomatoes that goes on a pizza.  If you go into WholeFoods and you buy Italian tomatoes canned, they’re peeled.  Why do the peel them?  Well, it’s just because it’s what they do at home.  Once it’s canned it cannot be peeled.

Second question, what am I against?  And that’s what confuses a lot of people.  They say, if I can’t eat fiber, that means I cannot eat anything that contains fiber.  That’s not true!  My book opens up with the following paragraph.  It says if you consume minor quantities of fiber from natural, unprocessed food there isn’t anything wrong with it because (a) small amounts of natural fiber, which is mostly soluble will not obstruct your intestines to cause diarrhea, (b) most of it will get fermented in the large intestine, and (c) the remainder will not bulk up if the volume of stool is high enough to cause any damage from “roughage.”  But, that is not what most Americans do or are urged to do.  And, what they are urged to do, they are actually urged to consume a great deal of processed fiber which comes in, guess what, morning cereals, fiber fortified bread, or there’s laxatives, specifically formulated capsules or tablets or wafers or drinks and so forth and so on.

Ben:  Right, right.  And I do want to get into those because I know that you certainly have an opinion on laxatives and there are some things people need to know.  But, before we get into that, is there a certain number of grams of fiber that people need to be paying attention to when it comes to the potential for creating some of these issues like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulitis and some of these things?  How much fiber is too much is basically what I want to ask you?  And, as a follow up to that, because I’m making it a habit here by asking you two questions at a time, how much does that vary from person to person?  I mean, is there going to be a big difference between how much fiber you can actually handle?

Konstantin:  It depends if you have this bacteriosis meaning your bacteria inside your gut was decimated with antibiotics, so, heavy metals, what have you.  Then, you can actually consume a granule of fiber with impunity because you will not have the process of fermentation going on in your gut.  Secondly, some people who have already digestive autoimmune disorders such as sensitivity to gluten, celiac disease, or they already have some preconditions so therefore they have IBS and this and that, they will be very sensitive to even small amounts of fiber.  Also, it depends on the type of fiber.  Some fibers are more violent to people than others.  For example, people think that soluble fiber is more benign than insoluble, but it’s reverse because actually bacteria will consume soluble fiber much faster.  It will reach the large intestine undigested and it actually will have to go through this process of intense fermentation.  And so, you’ll have a little small beer-producing factory inside your gut.  So, it depends.  There really isn’t any answer and my guidelines to everybody are: if it is processed, if it is added don’t touch it at all!  And if you don’t feel bloated, if you don’t feel flatulent, if you don’t have IBS or, God forbid, IBD or crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis then you’re fine.  It’s just like people ask me how much water do I have to drink?  And I said, well if you drink it, a glass of water every hour, and you then run to urinate 10-20 times a day and you get up twice at night to urinate, then you drink too much!  And then they’ll say, well how little should I drink?  I’ll say it’s very simple.  If you don’t feel thirst, then don’t drink.  Drink only when you feel thirsty!  Same thing with fiber.  It’s not like we are not robots, we are not sewing machines, we are not car carburetors, we are not engines that you feed a specific measured amount of oil or gas, we are human beings.  We’re all different.  We’re all different ethnic backgrounds, different physical profile, different style of work, different stress level, different conditions that are accumulated from our early childhood that may impact us more or less.  There isn’t really an answer, but if you feel wrong, it means you’re overdoing it.

Ben:   Is there a certain number of grams that you recommend as a range?

Konstantin:  No, not really.  For as long as it’s natural, meaning that whatever you get from, again, natural… I mean, if you look at the statistics, every article says Americans don’t consume enough fiber, Americans consume an average 10 to 15 grams, but they need 30-40.  Well, if you consume an average 10 to 15 grams and they don’t cause you any problems, that’s enough!  And also, if you go to those books that promote fiber as a health food, they say, well, if you start eating fiber, it’s actually not easy.  You have to adopt your body to it, meaning that it will have some side effects.  You may feel bloated or flatulence.  I mean, this is stupid.  Think about it, why would a normal human being, a healthy human being, will start to eat essentially the same thing as paper and will experience side effects and will have to adapt his or her body to it.

I mean, if I’ll tell you, Ben, you have two beautiful children, but they don’t really consume enough fiber, you have to give them more fiber.  But then, you know, they will be uncomfortable, they will be cranky, they may be flatulent, they may cry, they may have difficulties moving bowel because they will have large stools, but it’s okay!  Don’t worry, Ben.  It will go away.  It’s very healthy for your children and you will look at me and say Konstantin, you’re an idiot!  And it’s exactly what people who pedal fiber, they are idiots!  They are!  And it’s mostly hearsay.  They don’t even know why they’re saying it.  They read it somewhere, they heard it on television, and it’s ignorance is so prevalent and people who are ignorant, they also have another, very obnoxious qualities.  They have enormous confidence of saying things they don’t know and when you can’t go on and start discussing this with them, they don’t want to hear it.  They’ll always say, ‘well, every doctor is saying that fiber is good’ or ‘I read it in the New York Times.’  They’ll say those kinds of arguments and I’ll say, well, come on, be serious!  Come go back to academic sources.

Now, a lot of people think that I’m nuts and my work has no influence, my work has a huge influence.  The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy’s, a conservative primary text and a reference bible of every American doctor, and guess what, just a few months ago, they finally changed their section on constipation and they wrote there explicitly that fiber is not effective for people with chronic constipation.  It only works for people who are healthy.  They didn’t use the exact same words, but that’s what they’re saying.  So, it’s not like I am alone, it’s going on, but my book is already 80-years-old so this message is taking hold and the reason it’s taking hold is because people like you, who run into the problems, they come across my book, they read it, they go to their doctors, they stick it in front of their faces, and they say, ‘Look doctor, here is Mr. Monastyrsky and that’s what he wrote.’  And the doctor is saying ‘well, he is a stupid idiot Russian, he’s crazy, fiber is good for you.’  So, those people go back home, they follow their doctor’s advice, they still feel terrible, they read my book again, they stop eating fiber, they suddenly feel better, and you know what they think?  They think ‘my doctor is an idiot, I need another doctor.’  That’s what’s happening.  That’s how it happens, but it just takes a lot of time and that’s the problem.

Ben:  That’s true.

Konstantin:  But it’s not me who is wrong, it’s actually people who are promoting this who are wrong.

Ben:  So, I want to talk about some of these laxatives that are out there.  We’ve got metamucil and psyllium seed and any number of different compounds and I was actually trying out a few of these when I stumbled across your book and website, as I was going through my own little bout with constipation, tell me about why some of these are not all that great for your body?

Konstantin:  Well, psyllium laxatives like metamucil, I mean it’s really funny, if you go on and read the label on metamucil and it just lists side effects and it’s really profound.  It says bloating, flatulence, obstruction – it has a great number of side effects and you have to be very careful when taking them.  And, the reason they work, there are two reasons for them working.  One is, insoluble component of psyllium is a bulking laxative.  Meaning, it will reach your large intestine and because even bacteria cannot act on it, it will absorb water about ten times its volume and so it will increase the size of your stool and basically gravitations will start to work.  It’s just heavier stools, they will go out faster!  That’s the first reason.  The second reason they contain a granule of insoluble fiber and what insoluble fiber does is it blocks assimilation of fluids inside the small intestine and the large intestine and so you kind of create pseudo-diarrhea and so you combine this essentially fluids moving into the large intestine to kind of create that and, by the way, a lot of people when they start taking fiber laxatives, they do experience diarrhea.  Not everybody, but some.  It depends on the dosage and it depends on the person’s sensitivity.  So, that’s the dual action and now, let me go back and ask you a question.  If you’re an athlete, if you’re a breast feeding mother, if you’re just a person who wants to be health, would you willingly, knowingly take a substance which actually inhibits assimilation of fluids inside your small intestine which will mean that you will not digest proteins, you will not digest carbohydrates, you will not digest vitamins, you will not digest microelements, you said no.  Of course not, I will not do anything like that, but that’s exactly what these laxatives are doing.

Ben:  Right, right.  Gotcha.  What about additives, like, I noticed an article, I think it was by you that recently came out talking about additives in Metamucil.  I think it was ethylene glycol or something of that nature?

Konstantin:  No, it’s p-p-polyth…?  How do you pronounce poly…?

Ben:  Why, was it polyethylene glycol?

Konstantin:  Glycol.  Exactly!  And, you see, I can read more words than I can pronounce!  That’s one of the problems with being a writer, when I was working with patients, my English dictionary was much better, but now I’m mostly writing.  There’s this famous laxative called Miralax and there’s a whole bunch of laxative which are similar to Miralax and they used essentially as very powerful…  Miralax, the foundation of Miralax, is polyethylene glycol, it is made essentially by stringing together molecules to ethylene glycol and ethylene glycol is a substance which you can find in break fluids and anti-freeze.  And, if you go into a store and buy anti-freeze or break fluid, you will see a big skull with bones and think poison, don’t take it!  30 milliliters will kill you!  And that’s what this laxative is made from.

Ben:  Wow.  Interesting.

Konstantin:  And the reason…  Yeah, exciting, right?

Ben:  So, basically, one of the things and I think this was something you told to me when I was having difficulty and was taking a lot of fiber to try and cleanse myself and push stuff out, yet it almost creates this backing up effect, can you explain how that happens?

Konstantin:  Exactly!  When people have constipation already, meaning they have what is called a motility disorder, meaning they are not able to move bowels naturally, and when we talk about moving… what does it mean to move bowels naturally?  Well, in general, humans, children and adults, are supposed to move bowels at least twice a day as a minimum or at least after every measured meal.  It has to do with the way human physiology works and when we were not as sophisticated as we are today, meaning when we lived all natural in a natural environment and we were not wearing any clothes essentially, any time we sensed the urge to defecate, children or adults, they would just step away from the place they were sitting and they would just move their bowels without any inhibitions the same as what your dog is doing.  By the way, dogs are getting constipated also because they are not allowed… they are not “free range” and they also consume foods that contain a granule of fiber.  And so people never had this problem with constipation, I mean how come human physiology is so sophisticated there was so many years of evolution, I mean, millions of years, hundreds of thousands of generations, and this problem really became… this only came about when we started to urbanize.  When you move to live in an apartment or in a house and you depend on having a clean toilet and your mommy is telling you don’t use the toilet in school because it’s dirty, and you’ll learn to suppress defecation urge.  And when you earn that, and you miss one single stool, what happens?  The large intestine’s function is to actually remove excess fluids and sodium, to recover sodium, from the remnants of the digestive process.

Ben:  Right.

Konstantin:  And, if you don’t move your stool once, stool becomes drier and larger and it starts to impact, and our anus, our anal canal, is very tiny.  It can only stretch a maximum 2.4 inches…  I’m sorry, 1.4 inches, to about 35 millimeters.  And so when stools impact, for them to go out naturally without you feeling it, you actually have to start to strain.  And when you start to strain, it can either cause trauma to fissure or some other abrasion or it will actually eventually, after 5-10 years of straining, and you will develop a hemorrhoidal disease – enlarged hemorrhoids.

Ben:  Wow.

Konstantin:  And so, when you start straining your stool…

Ben:  So, you might not notice any bad things right away?

Konstantin:  No.

Ben:  This could have, basically, mess you up down the road by using high fiber supplements even though in the short-term you might notice a little bit of relief.

Konstantin:  Exactly, it takes five, I mean, depending on your age…  It takes years and years and years to develop damage.  Now, it doesn’t apply to children.  Children develop damage from fiber very, very fast simply because their digestive organs are so small, relative to the size of adults.  That’s number one.  Number two, because children cannot communicate their feelings the way adults can.  So, we may not know that they’re having problems and because they’re growing also and so, when you’re [35:07] ______ all those things grows, and they’re growing up and this kind of component that causes damage, it’s just very difficult to notice when the damage starts to appear.  And, if you read statistics right now, hemorrhoids become fairly prominent among very young children as young as five years old.

Ben:  Wow.

Konstantin:  It’s just bizarre.  And so, you want to keep children now.  If you start a high fiber regimen when you are 40 and your digestive organs are no longer as supple as they are when you are 20 and 25 and 30 and so forth and so on, of course you will develop damages much faster.  But in general, if you start it when you’re 20 and everything is going well, you may not notice anything, but by the time you’re 35-40, and especially for women, you will probably already have hemorrhoidal disease.  And, what hemorrhoidal disease does, it actually constrains your anal canal even more.  So, next time around, you actually have to strain even more.  So, you keep straining and then internal hemorrhoids develop and then external hemorrhoids develop and so you cause yourself more and more problems.  And then, by the age 50, 50% of Americans have hemorrhoidal disease already and by the age 60 it’s about 80%, by age 70 it’s about 90%.  And, then, by age 60, about 50% of Americans will also develop diverticulum disease, meaning, they have pathological enlargements inside their colons.  So, that’s what happens and the primary reason behind it is, again, over consumption of fiber.

Ben:  Man, that’s scary.

Konstantin:  It is.

Ben:  So, I don’t want to leave people hanging basically constipated, just in case we do have any listeners who are unfortunate enough to be out there listening constipated, I do know that it’s an issue though of people.  What are some of the things that people could do if they don’t want to use a high fiber supplement or don’t want to go eat a bag of spinach or five apples or something like that, but they’re trying to clear up constipation?

Konstantin:  Well, there isn’t really any simple way.  Constipation, Ben, is a very complex syndrome, it’s not a binary condition where on and off, you cannot really turn it off because lots and lots of things are involved.  It’s partially psychosomatic; it’s partially microbiological meaning related to bacteria; there is an endrocrinological component; there’s a neurological component; there is also a muscular component.  So, you have so many components in this condition.  So, if you went to your honeymoon and you suddenly develop constipation because you’re embarrassed to go to the bathroom in front of your future wife… or I mean, in front of your wife or husband in the beginning of the period, it may clear up very fast and you may not have it.  But, if you’ve already had it for some time and you were taking laxatives, most likely you developed a lot of those damages: psychological damage, psychosomatic damage, meaning that you are an expert suppressing stool in the wrong moment and you may have this bacteriosis meaning an insufficient amount of bacteria in your gut to maintain normal stools.  You may also have large stools, you may also have hemorrhoidal disease and some nerve damage inside your anus so you don’t have a perception of urge and you miss it.  So, there are all those factors.  So, what I suggest to all of people who are listening to us now or will be listening to this podcast later, to go to my site…  Actually, first go to Ben’s site and read this article on 12 myths about fiber to understand because…

Ben:  Yeah, I’ll link to that article for people so you can read it.

Konstantin:  We are touching only the surface of it and that article on Ben’s site is a very good kind of summation of everything what’s wrong.  And, I know you will question and you know you’ll say well, maybe it’s wrong, but read it first and try to understand it.  Not, viscerally, like, that guy is wrong, but logically.  It’s a very, very simple logic.  If you eat something and it causes you harm, then something must be wrong with it.  It’s not something is wrong with you, it’s something is wrong with the substance.  So, that’s what the article talks about.  And then, from that article, it will link to my site.  And, go to my site and start reading the materials.  Actually, my site has my second book which is called “Gut Sense: How To Relieve Constipation in Children and Adults” and my entire book is published there completely free of charge.  You can read the book there and it talks about all kinds – there isn’t like one type of constipation.  There is pediatric constipation, geriatric constipation, traveler related constipation, alcohol related constipation, hemorrhoid related constipation, and so forth, about 15 types of constipation described there for every contingency, every gender, and every group age.  So, I’m kind of the world’s leading doctor of carpology.

Ben:  Get into, I want to hear you talk a little bit about supplements because I know that there are things like minerals and vitamin C and things of that nature that can help with constipation.  Can you talk a little bit about that, about the type of compounds you can put into your body that aren’t fiber but that would still be classified as a dietary supplement that can help out with this kind of stuff?

Konstantin:  Well, again, let’s distinguish between functional constipation, meaning you suddenly became constipated and then you can take some substance, a laxative, for for all of it to help.  And then, there’s chronic constipation.  And again, they’re all very different and they require very different approaches.  And people ask me this question quite often: can I help, with a diet, to relieve constipation?  And I’d say no you can’t because, again, it’s a complex syndrome.  If you want to fix constipation permanently and don’t depend on anything, you have to restore your intestinal flora, you have to restore your inner rectal sensitivity, you need to overcome fiber dependence, this requires some effort and some time.  And again, if functional stage, very, very easy.  Like, the first substance you need to put in your mouth to overcome constipation is salt.  A lot of people are on low salt diets and low salt diets causes hardened-up, dried stool.  So, that’s the first thing.  Second thing you need to do, actually, if you have been on fiber for some time and you have developed constipation, you need to reduce fiber.  Why?  Because fiber causes large stools and large stools tend to stuck-up very fast and require from you more straining.  And, if this is not enough to actually help, well, another thing that you need to do, you always have to be watchful of your body meaning if you feel the urge to defecate, you have to run to the bathroom immediately, that way it happens naturally, otherwise it just doesn’t happen.  And, if those thigs will not help, again, Ben’s site, you can access my site, and I have a supplement on it called hydro-C colonic moisturizer which I developed and essentially it is a substance which combines vitamin C with magnesium, calcium, and potassium – three mineral ascorbates and when you take this stuff to a certain threshold, it works very fast.  It kind of floods your large intestine with fluids and it stimulates normal defecation.  And so…

Ben:  Konstantin, how is that any different than just using magnesium because magnesium is something I know that’s one of those things that folks will take to improve bowel movement?

Konstantin:  Absolutely, magnesium is a toxic substance, it is not intended for long term use and it’s also quite violent.  So, it’s very difficult to control.  If you don’t take enough, it doesn’t work; if you take too much, it works too well and so you develop diarrhea.  But in general, if you read the label on any magnesium supplement because the dosage is so high like milk of magnesia, it’s toxic.  You shouldn’t take it for extended doses because it might cause a lot of other problems.  So, that’s the primary difference.  So, hydro-C is easier to dose, magnesium, calcium, and potassium they’re in a synergistic amounts, it is not as obnoxious tasting as, let’s say milk of magnesia, and it’s more effective, it works faster, and it doesn’t really cause any painful side effects.  So…

Ben:  Okay, gotcha.  Just curious.  Are there any other things that you recommend besides the vitamin C and the mix of minerals, anything of that nature for constipation?

Konstantin:  Not really, no.  Diet, that’s first.

Ben:  What about flora?  What about just taking probiotics or something like that?

Konstantin:  Flora is important for lots of reasons, not only constipation, but unfortunately, the flora that you’re buying in stores, all kinds of flora, it’s not the same kind of flora as used to be… endogenous flora that used to be in your body from the get go.   It does serve a purpose, it works as a filler.  Essentially it fills up stools with those bacterial cells – alive and dead, and they retain water and they do soften up stools, and they do… and some of them actually, also there are some strains that are beneficial that will also produce vitamins, but in most cases, this flora does not become part of your… it doesn’t really survive in the environment of the large intestine.  So, the only reliable way to restore flora after taking biotics is what’s called fecal bacteria therapy.  It’s a very popular subject nowadays, there are lots and lots of articles on it.

Ben:  That’s like the poop transplants basically?

Konstantin:  That is correct.  Exactly.  You just have make sure that you find a healthy donor.

Ben:  Yeah, seriously.  Seriously.  Well, it’s been a fascinating discussion and I know we probably just kind of opened up another can of worms because when I published your article on my site, people had a lot of things to say about that and I’m sure people are going to have some things to say about what you’ve just talked about.  So, what I will do for people who are listening in, in the show notes, I’ll put a link to Konstantin’s book, I will put a link over to his website for you to check out some of his articles over there, I’ll put a link to the article that he published on BenGreenfieldFitness.com about fiber myths, and that one is not on his website, but it is at BenGreenfieldFitness and then you can explore this topic for yourself.  And, I mean, just kind of enclosing here, since I kind of stumbled upon what Konstantin has to say, for me, I’m probably not as extreme as him to the point where I’m peeling my vegetables and avoiding the skins of fruit and stuff like that, but I certainly have a whole new perspective when it comes to a lot of the things that get pushed on us in the supplement industry and the pharmaceutical industry when it comes to laxatives and high fiber compounds and kind of the whole strategy behind getting everything down there moving along properly.  And I definitely own Konstantin a thanks for saving my butt, literally, when I found some of his stuff.  So, check it out, read the book, I do highly recommend you do read the book before you start to make too many judgments, it won’t take you too long and it makes really good sense going through the book too because maybe it’s better for you or easier to understand than Konstantin’s accent, right.

Konstantin:  Everybody’s saying, well, you’re difficult to listen to, but we kind of assimilate what you’re saying, better because they have to work harder to listen to you.

Ben:  There you do.  Alright folks, so this is Ben Greenfield and Konstantin signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com.

A couple months ago, I published an extremely controversial guest article: Is Fiber Bad For You? The Top 12 Myths And The Real Truth About Whether Fiber Is Killing Your Insides.

96 comments later, it still seems some confusion persists about exactly how much fiber to eat, where to get your fiber, and whether fiber really is a dangerous villain that is killing your insides.

So today, in my interview with health researcher Konstantin Monastyrsky, the original author of that article, you're going to find everything you need to know about out why he says that fiber is bad.


In my discussion with Konstantin, who is author of the book “Fiber  Menace“, you'll find out:

-The 5 minute cliff notes version of why he's not a fan of fiber…

-Why it is that doctors tell use to eat plenty of fiber…and what doctors don't know…

-How much fiber is “too much”, and how much does it vary from person to person…

-What is the best source of the fiber? For example, is there a difference between just eating lots of fruits and vegetables vs. using a high fiber “cleanse”?

-Which are the more dangerous “laxatives” out there…

-What someone with constipation can do if high fiber and laxatives is not the solution…

-And much more!


Ask Ben a Podcast Question

One thought on “[Transcript] – How Much Fiber To Eat, Where To Get Your Fiber, And Is Fiber *Really* Killing Your Insides?

  1. Tracey Drew says:

    Do you have any info for those of us that suffer from chronic diarrhea? I’m assuming fiber is not the answer. I am now diabetic too and eating carnivore recently.

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