Cardella: High Fiber Diet

Let’s face it. Most of us can use more fiber in our diet. There’s a simple reason. High-fiber food is food we can’t digest. Why the hell would we want to eat food we can’t digest? The answer is we don’t. But in the crappy trick nature plays with our gut, we need to eat a lot of undigestible food to stay healthy. Unfortunately, staying healthy that way causes yet another problem.

The folks who need high-fiber food the most are older people. By the time we get older, our colon looks like 50 miles of bad road. There is nothing that looks worse than an X-ray of an 80-year-old colon after it has done battle with a bag of popcorn. I know I can’t digest popcorn. And that’s exactly why I should be eating a bag of it every night for a snack. There are repercussions from my eating a lot of popcorn. No flora in the immediate area can survive the effects. No living human being should be anywhere in my vicinity after I’ve eaten a bag of popcorn. When my wife finds out that I’ve snacked on popcorn, she leaves to go stay with her mother. And her mother died almost 40 years ago! Show me a couple on a high-fiber diet and I’ll show you a couple that doesn’t spend much time together.

You get a building full of seniors on a high-fiber diet and I’ll show you an explosive situation. You might as well alert every fire station within a 25-mile radius. I think I’ve seen this movie before. THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY. When I hear that smoke alarm go off in the middle of the night in my building, I figure a resident named Molly is snacking on the broccoli again. Molly has the healthiest colon of any female I know, but twice a week, one of her friends takes her up to the 30th floor roof and helps her hang her fanny over the top. Bombs away. It’s called “Extreme Civil Defense.”

Some guy named Paul has solved his high-fiber problems by eating a steady diet of high-graphite pencils. In this way, he enjoys a high-fiber diet, and can write with his nose, if need be.

Some of these liquid dietary supplements contain high levels of fiber plus large quantities of protein. One brand boasts that drinking one of its shakes is equivalent to eating four dozen artichokes and drinking 250 egg yolks. And then there’s that company’s super-strength version. Drink one of those and you’re ready to run out and propel your own spaceship.

Just know that when you take a bite of a high-fiber food, even oatmeal, a small voice in your colon yells out, “Look out below!!” This undigested food begins rumbling through your innards. Everything else in your colon must get out of the way. It feels as if someone cut down a Redwood tree in your intestines. You can only hope the tree finds a quiet landing spot.

Corporate America has tried to be helpful with this entire process. Most pharmacies carry a high-fiber powder that can be sprinkled on food or mixed in liquid. The powder dissolves instantly, and is essentially tasteless. Be forewarned, though, that it’s the idea of drinking or eating this loathsome stuff that’s more upsetting than the taste of it. I put my high-fiber powder on cereal because in the end I live by the axiom that it’s impossible to screw up cereal (that’s how bad cereal is). Pretend your METAMUCIL is cocaine, if you must. Just don’t sniff the stuff because it can do horrible things to your nasal passages. That frightening effect is probably not wise to mention to the faint of heart. It might be helpful if you have a Jethro Tull album handy at this point to distract you.

It’s official. You have begun your high-fiber diet. If it doesn’t help you produce the kind of bowel movements that would have made your mommy proud, at least you may have learned something useful like playing the flute while standing on one foot (remember listening to Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull?).

Eat enough high fiber and you’ll eliminate (pardon the reference) the need for colonoscopies forever. No fasting. No need to drink gallons of that horrid liquid. No intense worrying about your results. Think of it — you’ll be able to eat a hot dog guilt-free! It’ll be OK to listen again to flautists who stand on both legs. If John Lennon had known about high-fiber diets, I’m pretty sure he would’ve added a few lines to IMAGINE of a world without colon cancer.

“ … And the world will be as one.”