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January 1st, 2008

fiber (some beans)

I've been poking around the web looking for answers to some obscure and ultimately useless questions. Along the way, I've stumbled across some thought-provoking assertions. Something in a review of 100 Mile Diet asserted there was a UK study that said the amount of time spent going to and shopping at the supermarket now was equivalent to the amount of time spent cooking from scratch 20 years ago. That seemed funky on several levels. First, people were still going to market 20 years ago, so hardly fair. Second, 20 years ago was 1987. At least on this side of the pond, there was a whole lot of not-cooking-from-scratch going on over here. It's possible, but somewhat unlikely, that in 1987 UK, everyone was still, say baking their own bread from wheat grown in the garden.

Ha.

Anyway, I tried (and have thus far failed) to find it. I may have to get the book in order to get enough information to track it down. Along the way, I stumbled across some research based on a women's cohort study done in the UK (not dissimilar to our own Nurses Health studies). Never mind what they were trying to show. They had a calculation on the healthiness of their diet, based on WHO guidelines, one of which was fiber intake. They would mark you healthy if you had above a certain amount of fiber (20 some odd grams, IIRC) _and below 40_. That kind of stuck out, because if you eat a plant based diet involving a lot of beans and those beans aren't processed soy product, and you eat at least 2000 calories a day, you are probably going to blast (heh) right past 40 g.

Why was this considered unhealthy (especially since other elements of the study indicated that near-vegetarian women were healthier, etc.)? You can find a variety of people who say too much fiber in the diet will interfere with mineral absorption, however, it's hard to imagine that eating whole foods is going to generate that problem, given how much additional mineral is coming in with the whole foods. Google books version of Becoming Vegetarian confirms that, but then adds that supplementing fiber, whether with bran or something like psyllium or whatever, can really mess with your mineral absorption and no compensating benefit to replace those minerals. In any event, the WHO guidelines don't top out at 40 anyway -- they top out at 54.

Grrrr.

Update: ADA sez for children: take their age, add 5 and that's how many grams of fiber they should get per day. For T., that's 7. IOM fiber guidelines 2005 has a couple of ways of calculating fiber for kids, but it'd be around 14-19 or so. As a minimum. Still failing to find the WHO guidelines. Oh, and that guy who was feeding men 1 1/2 Cup beans to men and watching their cholesterol drop 19%? He was taking those victims, er, volunteers and moving them from whatever low-fiber/high-fat American default diet they at and maxing out their fiber for the day in one, foul, er, fell swoop.

Things Not to Do

Do not, repeat, DO NOT go look at the post 2005 USDA pyramid. I knew this. I'd looked at it before. But trying to figure out out to calculate dry beans, tofu, etc. just exposes all kinds of basic errors (like, in arithmetic) in their samples of how to calculate.

*sigh*