The Way to BE

Dr. Oz’s Gut Mistake on Better Elimination

Our stools are important. So important that even Dr. Mehmet Oz suggests that we make a mental note of stool size, shape, and consistency before we flush. (1)

While getting to know your bowel movements, everything from timing to odor, makes preventative medical sense, the conventional high-fiber diet that Dr. Oz suggests does not.

This is because stool bulk in fact comes from bacteria, not fiber.

The Fiber Solution

According to Dr. Oz and most medical textbooks, dietary fiber contributes to the texture and the moisture of stool. Otherwise known as “roughage,” it is also said to sweep the large intestine clean.

Having trouble staying regular? Although many people believe that the solution to constipation can be found in a high-fiber diet, healthy bacteria in the gut are vital to nourish the digestive tract and ensure regular bowel movements.

Conventional medicine tells us that a low-fiber diet leads to constipation. And, if you suffer from constipation or from constipation-dominant IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), a high-fiber bulking agent will make stools large, soft, and easy to pass.

This is what we are led to believe.

In reality, fiber does play an important role - however, not as a bulking agent. Much of the fiber that we eat, specifically the soluble fiber, can only be digested by bacterial and fungal enzymes.

Soluble fiber feeds bacteria. And bacteria, being friendly, use this fiber to produce short-chain fats that nourish the lining of our digestive tract. This means that when bacteria numbers or species dwindle, constipation can become an issue.

Instead of fiber, it is the pounds of microbial communities populating the colon that give stool its moisture and bulk.

When we wipe out communities of beneficial bugs with antibiotic therapy, stool loses its bulk, and we become constipated.

While antibiotics can save lives, overuse can lead to chronic infections and gut dysbiosis. Gut dysbiosis occurs when bad microorganisms outnumber the good.

If gut dysbiosis does not sound too serious, maybe like an occasional tummy ache, consider the man who received a stool transplant (otherwise known as a fecal microbiota transplantation, or FMT) from his wife. (2) His wife’s healthy stool put an end to weeks of burning diarrhea and saved his life.

What makes bad bugs so bad? Mainly, it has to do with how smart they are. All microbes, beneficial and pathogenic (or disease-causing), have the ability to trade genetic information and to quickly adapt.

Antibiotic Resistance: “A Growing Public Health Threat”

The gut is quite literally the seat of the immune system. Antibiotic therapy can clear the field, giving plenty of room for the bad bugs to proliferate. If an imbalance in gut flora can be life threatening, why are we so heavy-handed with antibiotics?

Just last year, Dr. James Hughes, a professor of global health and medicine at Emory University, asked this very same question. (3) Dr. Hughes made a formal plea on the matter in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA). With as much as 50% of antibiotic use deemed as “either unnecessary or inappropriate,” Hughes reminds us that antibiotic resistance is “a growing global public health threat.”

It is not just antibiotic drug use that we need to regulate. Antimicrobial soaps, salves, and cleaning products all have plain chemical ingredients that bacteria can quickly adapt to.

The Probiotic Cure-All?

The microbial community in your gut houses trillions. If you think that among those trillions, there are only 5 or 6 species of bacteria, think again. The population is wide, diverse, and genetically evolving at lightning speed.

This is where kefir, cultured vegetables, and probiotic beverages come into the picture. In order to maintain healthy gut flora, it is essential to eat all these foods. Relying on one variety of yogurt where the bacteria is added after pasteurization is simply not enough to furnish your gastrointestinal tract with the living probiotics it needs to stay healthy.

What to Remember Most About This Article:

Leading health expert Dr. Oz has recognized the importance of paying attention to our stool as an indicator of our health. But Dr. Oz makes a common mistake in recommending a high-fiber diet to keep digestion healthy and regular. Many people believe that dietary fiber will sweep the large intestine clean and prevent constipation.

While fiber does play an important role in the diet, it primarily contributes by serving as food for bacterial enzymes that will nourish our digestive tract. When healthy bacteria dwindle, constipation becomes an issue. Unfortunately, common antibiotic therapies can wipe out populations of healthy bacteria in the gut to lead to chronic infection and even gut dysbiosis.

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  3. Hughes, James. Preserving the lifesaving power of antimicrobial agents. JAMA. Published online February 22, 2011.

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  • Maige

    @Paul That is so untrue! Dr. Oz NEVER said that fermented foods cause stomach cancer. If a fermented food has a lot of salt, yes, that can aggravate stomach issues, but not the fermented food itself!! In fact, he is a big proponent of fermented foods and probiotics in general. I would really like to see where you believe he said that they aren't good for you.

    Also, regarding this article - I am saddened by the fact that the author attacks Dr. Oz in this way. Yes, he promotes a high-fiber diet - but he's said on numerous occasions that probiotics are also essential and re-populating gut flora is necessary for good health.

    Now, I'm not saying that he always gets things right, but I think we all have our own learning rates when it comes to health and wellness and at least he's trying to get people to be proactive about it. I am thrilled that he's taken a stand on GMO products for instance. Maybe now people will be more demanding about knowing what is in their food supply!!

  • Maggie Morris

    Sorry, I should have mentioned in my last posting a reference for the article I read in Nature - it is as follows:-

    Gut microflora comes in three ‘robust’ types, says study
    An international team of scientists have identified three distinct varieties of gut microflora. The finding may help explain why individuals respond differently to various nutrients and diets, according to the researchers.

  • Maggie Morris

    Recently I have seen an article which mentioned that each person does not necessarily have the same gut bacteria as another. It suggested there were three main colonies and that on the whole an individual will have predominantly one of these. Can anyone shed some light on this matter. Are we taking a sledge hammer approach in blasting our guts with a 'one size fits all' approach. If the above is true - then could we not be upsetting the fine balance of our own particular gut flora????

  • rochelle

    Question: Can i put maybe a 1/4 of the kefir or culture package in my smoothie?

  • Beryl

    I have suffered from candida for 6 years and am getting it under control after reading Donna's BED book. I had not eaten sugar or fruit for 12 months and following every other program, still not able to get rid of the dreaded candida until changing to the BED program. I really enjoy
    eating the suggested foods, loved quinoa, made my own coconut kefir and cultured veges but still could not totally get rid of it. It was always lingering and never totally disapeared. After having some strange problems with probiotics (which I had taken to finally clear it up), I had an allergy test done which showed I am allergic to probiotics and from the major smptoms I was having when taking yoghurt or probiotics and kefir this totally made sense for the major die-off episodes. Which were in fact allergic reactions and not die-off symptoms.
    My question is how to I populate the gut without taking probiotics of any sort? I needed emergency surgery a short while ago so needed to take antibiotics for the first time in many many years so feel I should be doing something to repopulate with healthy bacteria.
    Any suggestions please?

  • Kimballe Robinsen

    In the case of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) would the regular introduction of probiotics through ingestion of fermented food products contribute to the overgrowth in the ilium or somehow reestablish microflora balance ... it is a confusing aspect of this condition???

  • Jim

    I would like to see Donna go on Dr Oz's show, if she is interested and if that could be arranged, to present her research on the matter. It would get others at least thinking about what opposing evidence especially if Dr Hughes could go on with her! Dr Oz is a pretty smart and helpful guy as we all know and I suspect he would look at their research and might well be willing to have them come on.

  • Tami

    If you'd like to know more about how to make your own probiotic foods and drinks check out this Web site and Donna Schwenk's blog. I've been making my own kefir, cultured vegetables, kefir soda drink, and kombucha! Homemade is so much better for you and it's so inexpensive, it's just a no-brainer! ;)

  • Paul

    Another thing Dr. Oz recently said on his show and I'm surprised that Donna Gates hasn't responded to it when he had a show about stomach cancer he said fermented foods cause stomach cancer.

  • Abby Lawson

    The misconception about this whole fiber issue is so huge. I just need to repeat to myself that it is the bacteria that will move things along! Thanks Donna I shared this with my Facebook friends in the hope it helps someone.

  • Josh Daviault

    What an awesome article! We really need to do something about this overuse of antibiotics and processed food! I'm at the tail end of overcoming 10+ years of major depression caused by antibiotic overuse and severe systemic candida and am so amazed to see how widespread it is.. its effecting sooo many people!

    The worst part about is is how it dulls your senses and you're so unaware of it until you fully overcome it!

    Sharing this article with as many people as possible!

    Thanks for everything you've done Donna!


  • Trudy Porter

    Thanks for the article, Donna. I am reading Baby Boomer's on my kindle (will also order hard copy - also read BED) and find it very helpful to understand why our gut & body works the way it does and how what we eat is so vital. I do eat fermented cabbage, coconut kefir, and fermented ginger ale. I order breads that our made w/quinoa & am playing around w/the diet since I need to figure out how to feel my best at 65. My downfall: have to have my 1 square per day of 72% dark chocolate, my one addiction and a cup of 1/2 decaf and 1/2 regular coffee about 2x weekly, other than that, drink herb tea. Cannot tolerate chlorella am very allergic to it, so can't order your green drink, take spirulina. Make your soups and some of the other recipes as I have time (grandsons keep me busy).

    Have been sharing w/husband about Donna's concepts, then he saw her article in the Bottom Line Magazine and was impressed! We live in south Charlotte, NC...would love to speak and have Donna as my personal nutritionist!!

    Trudy Porter

  • Jill Martinez

    Before I was diagnosed with candida, I was eating exactly what Dr. Oz and others were saying to do, in regards to fiber, constipation, irritable bowel,etc. including lots of raw vegetables. Couldn't understand why I wasn't eliminating. Once I found Body Ecology and followed the program, including raw butter and cultured!! Look out..elimination is not a problem, it is actually fun, I know, sounds strange, but oh well, it is great. So, bottom line it's about the good bacteria in the gut. Body Ecology has never steered me wrong. I tell everyone the program isn't easy, but it works! The way you feel is the prize. What can be more incentive than that?

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