What's with Fiber? Fiber is not merely the simple roughage it was once thought to be, and it is not an isolated element in nature. Found in plant foods, fiber is a complex substance, and in whole foods, it is always accompanied by a number of nutrients, including antioxidants, essential oils, minerals, proteins, and vitamins. Fiber occurs in many forms and has very few calories. A diverse diet of whole natural foods can provide all the fiber the body needs to help protect it against health problems, say the authors Gene and Monica Spiller, who go on to warn that a lack of fiber in the diet can lead to degenerative diseases. The current obesity epidemic in the Western world, for example, is directly related to the lack of plant-based, fiber-filled whole foods that have been largely displaced in today's diets by processed foods, denatured grains, and fiber-free animal products. Part One of What's with Fiber? explains what fiber is and how it is naturally contained in whole foods. Part Two outlines the ancestral history of fiber, beginning well before agriculture came into being. It brings fiber into the present ''phytochemical era,'' detailing the ongoing research that is so explosively increasing everyone's knowledge of plant foods and their protective compounds. There is a section on the healthy diets of isolated and non-Western people around the world. The balance of the chapters in Part Two delve into specific diseases and conditions, such as cancer of the colon and rectum, diverticular disease, obesity, heart disease, and high cholesterol, citing studies and detailing fiber's role in helping to ameliorate or prevent these problems. Part Three discusses specific categories of whole-plant foods, and asks what's with whole grains; beans and legumes; nuts and seeds; fruits; vegetables; seaweeds and fungi (mushrooms); and extracts, juices, and teas. A comprehensive glossary, appendices of explanatory tables and graphs, and a full list of books and references are also provided. This concise, focused book is a valuable, timely addition to the ongoing discussion of what constitutes a truly healthy diet.