1 May 2022

Book Review: Fiber Fueled

I am getting more and more convinced that books written by medical doctors have basically one message – “Here is the one thing – and it will solve all problems of your body”. This book – referred to me by my dietitian – left a similar aftertaste as after reading the book “Why Zebras do not get Ulcers” (remember?). At least that book had a lot of humor and kept the delivery interesting while almost trying to prove that glucocorticoids were the solution to all your problems.

This book was initially interesting to read – it does a great job in explaining the microbiome and how the bacteria works and also how fiber rich foods are processed by our body. But then as you proceed thru the chapters, the author’s pitch become more and more shrill and the writing becomes almost a marketing pitch. Apparently, fiber will solve all our problems. In his defense, he does concede that there are circumstances like celiac disease patients for whom all fiber may not be a panacea.

The challenge for me, of course, is to accept that there is one solution for everybody. Given our bodies are so different from each other – and there are seven and a half billion of them – I would have expected a little more circumspect approach for any truly research based opinion.

Some of the concepts in the beginning are compelling and educational. For example, the way he explains how food choices affect the biome. And how leaky gut causes inflammation. He also teaches the concept of prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics very well.

Some of his ideas will cause you to sit up. For example, his belief that outside of the five vitals – temperature, pulse, respiratory rate, blood pressure and oxygen level, there should be a sixth one – quality of bowel movement. He does go on to make a compelling case for this.

But then he goes on screaming from the rooftop how every disease can be solved by eating fiber. Often quotes research but I am very skeptical of statements like “Research has shown…”. Not all research are done with the same level of integrity.

In the end, he dedicates another large portion of the book to be a chef with pages and pages of recipes.

That said, I learnt a few things:

1. There are 5 types of microorganisms in our body – bacteria, yeast, parasites, viruses and archaea (never heard of the last one!!)
2. We carry 39 trillion microorganisms in our body. Most of them are bacteria.
3. 90% of serotonin and 50% of dopamine is produced in the gut. This shocked me. I guess that is why the gut is the second brain.
4. Apparently, genetics have less to do with diseases (only 20% – based on studies of identical twins). 99% of our DNA comes from the biome and only 1% is from the rest of our body.

But above all, his concept of “Eat all the colors of plant based food” is sound advice and I would not take anything away from that.

If you read this book, I would suggest start tapering off around the middle of the book.

Posted May 1, 2022 by Rajib Roy in category "Books

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