Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Any food that has ever been a powder is a processed food. It's not just things that come in boxes. Bread, the staff of life, is a processed food, and depending on the artificiality of the ingredients, it can be more or less toxic. But it is processed, which means a great deal of the digesting has already been done, and all those calories are ready to flood into your bloodstream all at once, rather than trickle in, as chewing the grains would allow for. You see the point -- there can be a big hypoglycemic effect, for anyone who has any sort of a weight issue.


There is a way to unprocess the food. It is a cheat. It does not add nutrients, which should be the major reason for eating -- I'm so idealistic. But reality is what it is, and sometimes we need to undo some of the folly we've indulged in.

Glucomannan is a vegetable fiber derived from konjac root, native to Asia. It does not dissolve in water, but rather forms a thick gooey gel. Konjac is sold under the product name PGX, which expands to 200 times its original mass -- a gram (about the size of a vitamin pill) grows to the size of a quarter-pounder. Pretty amazing. Of course this creates a sensation of fullness, but much more important in terms of health is that it regulates your insulin.

There are two sorts of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble. The insoluble kind adds bulk and roughage to the stool, which is necessary for healthy elimination. And there actually is a nutritional element, in providing energy to the cells of the colon -- but that's pretty obscure. Soluble fiber absorbs water inside the digestive tract, and becomes, as it were, sticky. The benefit of this is that the gel mixes with processed foods and slows down the absorption of sugar. See?

Adding soluble fiber somewhat undoes the hypoglycemic effect. You've still eaten all that cake with all those calories, but they don't go racing into your bloodsteam causing a hysterical insulin response. It's as if you ate little pieces of cake, over five hours, rather than a big piece all at once. You won't be burning the fat you already have, but you won't be adding new fat either, the way you would have without the fiber.

It's a cheat. You should have eaten nutritious food. Why didn't you? Shame! For shame! But you already knew that. Once the blame is out of the way, and the guilt, and the self-loathing and defensiveness, we can get practical. Take a PGX fiber pill. It doesn't make a bad diet good, but it makes it less damaging. That's a sort of good. The best price I've found is here, and here for the, ahem, powder.

It's not a good thing to eat poorly and than try to undo the damage. Eat properly. Nutrient dense, calorie poor foods. But we do live in the real world. So if you cheat on your diet, cheat again. Two wrongs don't make it right, but they make it less wrong.

Another soluble fiber, cheaper, is psyllium, the active ingredient of Metamucil. Yes, it makes you go to the toilet, but it has the same healthful benefit as PGX -- it's just less expansive ... growing up to from 15 to 80 times in mass (the larger number from a commercial site, so less likely to be realistic). It's cheaper though, so you can sprinkle it liberally on your Lucky Charms.

And the solid research is pretty interesting. Supplementing with these soluble fibers can have positive effects on constipation, intestinal gas, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, anal fissures (sorry to put that image in your head), Crohn's disease (inflamed bowel), IBS and colon cancer. It's all so very excretory, I know. It has a beneficial effect on hyperglycemia (pre-diabetes), obesity, cholesterol levels, and it inhibits dietary fat from being absorbed. Digestion is more complicated than thinking. Entertain your bowels, the way you do your mind.

The other cheat is Omega-3. I've spoke at length about it already. It undoes some of the poisonous effects of a diet high in inflammatory fats -- which is the standard American diet. No need to repeat the details. Point is, when wrong foods have been indulged in, do what you can to undo the damage.

Adolescents are idealistic. They still believe in perfection, as small children believe in Santa Claus. When we become mature, we put away these childish things, and do what we can to see the world as it is. Not dark, not cynical. Realistic. Pragmatic. Within which worldview, there is ample room for optimism.

Perfection? Please. Perfection is static, and we are always changing. We don't trouble ourselves with perfection, but we strive for excellence. Such a great difference, in such a small shift in outlook. It makes us smile.

We strive then to be beautiful, in our character and our actions and in our health. If you have remained too long, sitting -- if you've remained too long, sitting at the dinner table ... well? Have hope. Take heart. Take heart by taking action. Sensible diet, sensible exercise. What's the big deal?



Will C. said...

If you are going to take psyllium pills (or an equivalent), you will need to drink alot of water. The expansion ratio of the stuff requires that you do so.

Jack H said...

It's on the label. Please follow all directions. Forgotten Prophets assumes no liability for misused products we recommend.

And you should be drinking a lot of water anyways.

And cheaters never prosper.