Real Food Fiber

My daughter was born with vesicoureteral reflux, which is an abnormal flow of urine from the bladder to the upper urinary tract. In her case, urine flows back (refluxes) into both ureters and both kidneys. Because she has vesicourtereal reflux, she is at a higher risk for developing UTIs. When a child with VUR gets a UTI, bacteria can move into the kidney and lead to scarring. Scarring of the kidney can be associated with high blood pressure and kidney failure. Constipation can increase the risk of developing a UTI. Therefore, constipation should be treated quickly, or prevented.

We are currently on a fourth antibiotic trying to kill the bacteria (proteus vulgaris) found in her most recent urinalysis. When visiting her doctor yesterday, we were told to keep an eye on her stools to make sure they are not hard, which is a sign of constipation. If her stools appear hard, we were told to give her Fiber One bars. Yikes! Have you ever looked at the ingredients in a Fiber One bar? After reviewing the ingredients I could not believe they were prescribing this to a 4-year-old or to anyone for that matter.

There are many varieties of Fiber One bars, this particular ingredient breakdown is for the Oats & Chocolate version (ingredients in red are at-risk of being genetically modified):

Chicory Root Extract, Semisweet Chocolate Chips (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, natural flavor), Whole Grain Oats, Corn Syrup, Rice Four, Barley Flakes, Sugar, Canola and Palm Kernel Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, High Maltose Corn Syrup, Maltodextrin, Tricalcium Phosphate, Sugarcane Fiber, Soy Lecithin, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Salt, Fructose, Malt Extract, Caramel Color, Cellulose Gum, Baking Soda, Milk, Natural Flavor, Mixed Tocopherols added to retain freshness.

fiber one bar

Besides being a bar filled with GMOs, the bar also contains Caramel Color which is carcinogenicThe artificial brown coloring is made by reacting corn sugar with ammonia and sulfites under high pressures and at high temperatures. This produces the chemicals 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, which have been found to cause lung, liver and thyroid cancer in lab rats and mice.

This bar also contains Natural Flavor. Natural Flavors as defined by the USDA are, “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolystate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf of similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

Often times, “castoreum,” which is emitted from the castor sacs within a beaver’s anus is used as “natural flavor.” For a beaver, this slimy brown substance is used to mark its territory, but for us humans, it’s used as an additive that is often labeled as “natural flavoring” in the foods we eat – vanilla, strawberry and raspberry probably being the most common. Instead of smelling horrible, like most people would expect from an anally produced secretion, it has a pleasant scent, which supposedly makes it a perfect candidate for food flavoring and other products. Yuck!

Lastly, this bar is also loaded with sugar:

1. Sugar is Not Food – It is empty calories with little nutritional value and actually causes your body to steal vitamins from other vital organs in attempt to process the sugar, leaving you undernourished.
2. Sugar Makes You Fat – It is filled with calories that are stored in your fat tissues.
3. Sugar Makes You Nervous – There is a clear link between excess sugar and disorders like anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia, because of extreme levels of insulin and adrenalin.
4. Sugar Causes Diabetes, Kidney and Heart Problems – Excess sugar can damage the pancreas’s ability to function properly.
5. Sugar Kills Your Teeth – Sugar increases the bacteria in your mouth that erodes enamel. The biggest crime is that many popular toothpastes contain sugar which is not required to be put the on the label.
6. Sugar Suppresses the Immune System - Sugar interferes with the body by overtaxing its defenses.
7. Sugar Causes Wrinkles – A high-sugar diet damages collagen.

The average American consumes 20 teaspoons of added sugar each day; that is 2-3 pounds of sugar per week!  This is added sugar; not sugar naturally found in fruit, vegetables, grains and milk. The World Health Organization says no more than 10 percent of calories should come from added sweeteners; that is a maximum of 12 teaspoons of sugar for a 2,200-calorie diet.  Twenty teaspoons may sound like a lot of sugar to get through in one day, but…

Consider the following:

  • Low-fat fruit yogurt (125ml) contains 4 1/2 tsp of sugar.
  • 2 slices white bread contains 6 tsp of sugar.
  • Wheaties (1 bowl & 1/2 tsp sugar) contains 3-4 tsp sugar.
  • 1 glazed donut contains 6 tsp of sugar.
  • A 12 ounce Pepsi contains 10 tsp of sugar.

That is a total of 29.5 teaspoons of sugar!  It is easy to see why sugar consumption is on the rise when we look at how many foods have added sugar in them.

Instead of a Fiber One bar, we will be making sure she gets her fiber via REAL FOOD. There are two main types of fiber found in foods: insoluble and soluble. 

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains and on the outside of seeds, fruits, legumes, and other foods. It is also called roughage. Its job is to hold onto water in your digestive system. It uses this water to move waste through your intestine and get rid of all of the toxins and material that your body doesn’t need. Insoluble fiber acts like a sponge. It absorbs water and then swells up inside of your intestine, producing a “full feeling.”

Soluble Fiber

The other type of fiber is soluble fiber. It is found in fruits, vegetables, seeds, brown rice, barley, oats, and oat bran. It works by passing through the intestine and forming a “gel” like substance. Fiber and digestive enzymes made by the liver form this gel. Soluble fiber works on a chemical level to prevent and reduce the absorption of certain substances that are harmful to the body.

Sufficient daily fiber intake is important, not just because of helping the bowels function, but to provide nutrients to friendly bacteria in the digestive tracts. Low-fiber diets have been connected to numerous diseases and conditions such as colon cancer, constipation, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, heart disease, high blood pressure, hemorrhoids and varicose veins. 

These are the foods we use to ensure she is getting enough fiber: almonds, almond butter (in smoothies), raspberries, pears, apples, mangos, bananas, oranges, strawberries, kiwis, figs, raisins, spaghetti squash, broccoli, peas and carrots. There are many other sources of natural fiber (grains & legumes), these are the ones she likes best.

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“When you know better, you do better.”

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