High Fiber Diet – How it keeps you Regular

High Fiber Diet – How it keeps you Regular

We have heard of the many benefits of eating fiber, one being it helps keeps your intestinal tract regular. Dr. Paul L. McNeil who is a cell biologist at the Medical College of Georgia reported how fiber benefits digestion and improves the health of the intestines. Mc Neil first published his study in the online August 21st edition and also will appear in the September print issue of PLoS Biology.

The roughage of the fiber increases mucus production which has been known for years. Mc Neil discovered the reason in which he says, “When you eat high-fiber foods, they bang up against the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract, rupturing their outer covering. What we are saying is this banging and tearing increases the level of lubricating mucus. It’s a good thing.”

“It’s a bit of a paradox, but what we are saying is an injury at the cell level can promote health of the GI tract as a whole,” says Dr. McNeil. “These cells are a biological boundary that separates the inside world, if you will, from this nasty outside world. On the cellular scale, roughage, such as grains and fibers that can’t be completely digested, are a mechanical challenge for these cells.”

“We have found a very natural way we can enhance mucus production,” says Dr. Miyake, cell biologist and the study’s first author. Both he and Dr. McNeil thought that mucus was escaping cells because of injury. “You might have predicted it, but science is about testing predictions,” says Dr. McNeil.

But in what he and colleague Dr. Katsuya Miyake see as an adaptive reaction, the bulk of these cells rapidly repair damage in the system and release even more mucus. This provides a bit of cell protection as it eases food down the Gastro-intestinal tract.

An outer membrane tear is like a good-neighbor policy through which calcium precisely outside the cell rush in. Too much calcium is deadly but that first taste signals the vulnerable cell it better do something quick. With epithelial cells, several of the internal mucus-filled compartments fuse together within about three seconds, forming a cover to repair the tear. The compartments expel their contents to give extra mucus which becomes available to lubricate the Gastro-intestinal tract.

The researchers aren't sure the number of cells that are affected. They believe that the numbers are high because of the constant injury. Potentially acidic substances, such as alcohol and aspirin, can produce so much damage that spontaneous recovery mechanisms don’t work fast enough. The researchers don’t believe eating too much roughage would cause an overdose problem.

“We have found a very natural way we can enhance mucus production,” says Dr. Miyake, cell biologist and the study’s first author. He and Dr. McNeil suspected for years that mucus escaped cells as a result of injury. “You might have predicted it, but science is about testing predictions,” says Dr. McNeil.

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