Go to fullsize imageLet’s be frank, my family has poop issues.  Most of you may know this.  IBS is common among the women folk and the kids are plagued with constipation from generation to generation.  My immediate family is no different.

Constipation is horrible.  I am not talking about being a “little backed up”.  I am talking about a whole intestinal pipeline filled with weeks of non-mobil feces.  What’s a girl, mom, kid, or father to do?  Well, you always start with adding more fiber.  Which is a really easy dietary concept except when you only want the fiber and not other additives that may be combined with it.  And if you want it to taste good so your kids will eat it, forget about it.

My family was so excited when Fiber One Bars with 35% of your daily fiber hit the market.  They are so yummy and even the kids gobbled them up like candy.  It worked great for a while but one by one, sisters, cousins, mothers, fathers, and husbands all set the little bar aside.  Why you ask? (or maybe you weren’t asking, but I would love to tell you.)

Well, here’s what began happening.  Of course, the first couple bars led to being extremely gassy and flatulent.  A huge increase in fiber will do that for you.  We all persisted over time by adding more water to our diets as recommended.  After consuming the yummy bars over a period of a week or two, some began to have severe stomach cramps.  Some even missed work by either calling in sick or sitting in the workplace bathroom for lengthy periods of time.  Stomachs across the board rumbled and tumbled.  We were just a hurtin’ bunch when we consumed these particular high fiber sticks.  Things were definitely moving but not in the right way.

My sister finally brought this up at work.  She works as a medical assistant for a group practice of family doctors.  The doctors and nurses all said, “Stop eating those horrible sticks of pain.  We do not recommend that people eat that particular product.  There are too many side effects due to ingredients in them such as ethanol.”.   (Those probably aren’t their exact words, I added a little bit to make it easy to read.)

Ethanol??  ETHANOL????  Seriously…ethanol.  I used that stuff all the time as a solvent, under a fume hood in Organic Chemistry Class, and I would never think of purposely pouring it into my body in any amount.  Go ahead look at the label on a Fiber One Bar.  This is the chocolate one.  Pay attention now, it’s right after the lengthy lists of sugars and fats and before shellac.   Also note, there is more chocolate than oats in these babies.

Ingredients

Chicory Root Extract , Chocolate Chips with Confectioner Shellac , Chocolate Chips , Sugar , Chocolate Liquor , Cocoa Butter , Dextrose , Milk Fat , Soy Lecithin , Ethanol , Shellac , Hydrogenated Coconut Oil , Rolled Oats , Crisp Rice , Rice Flour , Sugar , Malt , Salt , Barley Flakes , High Maltose Corn Syrup , High Fructose Corn Syrup , Sugar , Canola Oil , Honey , Glycerin , Maltodextrin , Palm Kernel Oil , Tricalcium Phosphate , Soy Lecithin , Salt , Nonfat Milk , Peanut Oil , Cocoa Processed with Alkali , Natural Flavor , Baking Soda , Color Added , Almond Flour , Peanut Flour , Sunflower Meal , Wheat Flour , Mixed Tocopherols Added to Retain Freshness

 There it is sitting there staring at us from the second line.  At least there is more ethanol in there than the high fructose corn syrup.  It’s no wonder there are 10 grams of sugar per serving with all those sugars in there (although it’s a reasonable amount when compared to a chocolate bar).  No wonder the kids love them. 

Okay, back to ethanol.  Ethanol itself is also called “ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid. It is a psychoactive drug, best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages and in thermometers. In common usage, it is often referred to simply as alcohol. Ethanol has widespread use as a solvent of substances intended for human contact or consumption, including scents, flavorings, colorings, and medicines. In chemistry, it is both an essential solvent and a feedstock for the synthesis of other products. It has a long history as a fuel for heat and light and also as a fuel for internal combustion engines.” (Wikipedia)

Even though is says it’s used as a solvent for substances intended for human consumption.  I am still alarmed that ethanol is listed in the top half of any ingredient list.  You could argue that it’s in a small amount but as my family experienced, there is something in those bars that doesn’t belong in our bodies.

Another additive in there to watch out for besides the numerous processed sugars and ethanol, is shellac.  Shellac is used as a glaze in the food industry. “It provides a high gloss in a really thin coating”.  You may notice this on fruits in the supermarket as well.  Have you ever wondered why those apples are so shiny?   It is made from the secretions of the Lac beetle and is often called “beetlejuice”.  And yes, this “food glaze” originates from the same shellac that when processed differently, can be used to seal furniture.  The “food grade” shellac has been known to cause allergies on contact and skin irritation.  So if your skin is easily irritated by different chemicals, scents, or additives, it makes sense that you may have some sort of allergic response to this additive.

As for the continued excess gas, that would be in part due to the first ingredient, chicory root.  Chicory root is a soluble fiber (also a sweet tasting carb) and soluble fiber cannot be broken down in the small intestine.  That fiber then moves to the large intestine where all those lovely little good bacteria work away at it producing “gas” along the way.  Be aware that I found that “chicory” (no mention of chicory root per se) is an appetite stimulant.  Maybe that’s why they are so tastey and you always feel like you can eat another.

Anyway, I thought these bars were awesome at first but I think I am going to save my money and just chew on twigs and branches for fiber.  At least I know there would be no potentially harmful or allergenic man-made materials in it.  Well, unless I got the twigs from a tree in a smog filled area or along the roadside.  I guess will be in the deep dark depths of the forest for a while digging up fiber with no additives.  In the meantime, eat these Fiber One bars instead of candy bars.  They are a better alternative, but be aware that you may have some serious intestinal issues and you are not really being super “healthy” by ingesting all that HFCS and additives.  Everything in moderation, my friends.

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