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How Prebiotic Fiber Affects Your Health

Dr. Neal Barnard enterohepatic circulation hormones liver function prebiotic fibers

Fiber plays a role in the control of your cholesterol, estrogen and testosterone levels, plus other key health factors 

An article on the health web site Experience Life titled "Fiber: Why It Matters More Than You Think" unlocks some of the reasons for the benefits noted when diets are higher in plant fiber intake. In it, fiber is noted to play a part in "...regulating blood-sugar levels, reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, breast cancer, colon cancer and gastrointestinal disorders such as reflux, duodenal ulcer, irritable bowel and diverticulitis, and also supporting weight loss."

Some of the work fiber does is accomplished by keeping liver function in balance. The liver makes a significant portion of the cholesterol that your body needs, and recycles as much of it as possible through the entero-(gut) hepatic (liver) circulation for optimum efficiency. Cholesterol is needed to make the membranes of all your cells, and is delivered in the bloodstream by your LDL or low density lipoproteins, to the cells, then returned to the liver by your HDL or high density lipoproteins.

Dr. Neal D. Barnard, M.D., of The Survivor’s Handbook says, "…when your liver sends hormones, or other chemicals into the intestinal tract, there is nothing for them to attach to. They end up being reabsorbed back into your bloodstream, and the whole process starts over again. This endless cycle – hormones passing from the bloodstream, through the liver, into the intestinal tract, and, unfortunately, back into the bloodstream – is called enterohepatic circulation. It keeps hormones circulating for longer than they should. Fiber stops this cycle by carrying hormones out once and for all."

When present in the diet, fiber can attach itself to hormones like estrogen and testosterone when their levels are too high, to help escort them out of the body. The same is true for fiber's affinity for excess cholesterol. 

In his book Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself, author Dr. Alejandro Junger writes "When we don’t eat fiber, the toxins that we should be eliminating through our bowels get reabsorbed into the bloodstream — and that can cause many problems." He adds "And, the end effect of all this toxicity is inflammation – virtually everybody is inflamed today – which negatively affects various organs in many different ways."

The Experience Life article goes on to explain "Fiber also plays a vital role in improving the effectiveness of the gastrointestinal system, which contains more than half the body's immune system." Junger adds "Fiber feeds good bacteria, so a lack of fiber actually kills the good bacteria in your gut – and the good bacteria in your gut is yet another thing that Western medicine does not clue into in terms of its importance."

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