Fiber Demo

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One thing that Louise Amyot, RD, LD, does when speaking in public about fiber is to give one participant a bag of whole walnuts in the shell.

Louise then gives another participant a bag of shelled walnuts. She then asks both of them to chop her a cup of nuts for a recipe she wants to bake and a prize goes to the one who finishes first.

Everyone stares at her, dumbfounded. So, she says, “What? Is there a problem here?” And everyone tells her that the person with the shelled nuts will, of course, finish first. So, she asks them “Why?” And they answer, of course, “Those nuts have already had their shells broken open.” “This,” Louise says to them, “is exactly what happens in the gut.” She further explains, “It is the difference between eating whole grains and refined grains. With whole grains, the digestive juices need to get through all those little shells of each grain, which takes time. Then those broken shells take up room in the gut alongside the contents of the seeds, so everything moves slowly, fiber slowing down the digestion and then the emptying of the stomach. Therefore, the person is full longer and is less likely to want to snack in an hour or two.”

This demo is especially effective when Louise demonstrates cracking open a couple of nuts and then picking out the meats from among the broken shell fragments. She says, “The shelled nuts are like the refined grains. They are quickly digested because they are immediately available to the digestive juices. In addition, there is no fiber to slow the emptying of the stomach. So hunger comes back much more quickly.”

People usually look at Louise with an “Ohhhh, now I get it!” look and they nod in understanding. And it’s an illustration that works with just about all ages, except the very youngest.

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