Tag Archives: constipation

Fiber – Are You Getting Too Much of a Good Thing?

We all know fiber is an essential player in the good health game, but too much of a good thing can be a trouble. As with anything, moderation is key (as it turns out, the body just loves moderation!).

Signs You May Be Overdoing Fiber

The recommended daily intake of fiber is approximately 25-35 grams daily (mostly insoluble) but many of us are only taking in around half that amount daily. So the problem lies when people start increasing their fiber intake on doctor’s orders but go a little fiber-mad and introduce too much too quickly. The body acclimatizes to changes best when they are slow and steady, not when you go from 0 to 60 before the light even turns green. To much fiber can result in the following discomforts:

  1. Diarrhea – While soluble fiber can help ease diarrhea by absorbing some of the excess fluid in the intestinal tract, insoluble fiber helps fast-tract bowel movements, making diarrhea worse. So stick with foods like bananas, applesauce, white rice or oatmeal when you have diarrhea and avoid foods like broccoli, corn, tomatoes and whole wheat which are high in insoluble fiber.
  2. Constipation – people who struggle with constipation should try to get a fair balance of both types of fiber (but too much soluble fiber can make constipation worse because it slows digestion down). Try slowly upping your intake of leafy greens and other high-fiber veggies to see if it helps move things along.
  3. Temporary Weight Gain – If you are getting too much soluble fiber, it can lead to bloating and subsequent weight gain in some people. In some cases, the body is dehydrated because the person isn’t consuming a proportionate amount of water along with all the fiber. It is also important to increase your water intake along with your fiber intake.
  4. Gas and Bloatingtaking in more fiber than called for can lead to a noisy tribute. Try to taper your fiber intake a little if you are exceeding 35 grams daily.
  5. Mineral malabsorption – sometimes when you are ingesting a surplus of fiber, it can cause important minerals and nutrients to pass through the body too quickly, prohibiting your body from absorbing them. If you are eating a lot of fiber, you may want to talk to your doctor about vitamin supplementation if necessary, or decrease your dose to the recommended amount.

Do You Need a Brief Hiatus from Fiber?

Those who have certain stomach disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are sometimes medically advised to cut down their insoluble fiber to give their overactive digestive tracts a break (talk to a doctor before doing so). Aside from those with conditions, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms it may be time to re-examine your fiber intake to see if that could be the problem. Start increasing it slowly, by a couple grams a day instead of large, quick increments.

The Bottom Line

The benefits of fiber well outweigh some of the mild potential issues it may cause when ingested in excess, so be sure to aim for the recommended 25-35 grams of mixed fiber daily (primarily insoluble fiber). Remember to increase your intake gradually if you currently aren’t meeting the ideal mark. However, if you have intestinal issues or are experiencing some of the fiber-related problems we discussed, you may be consuming too much and should talk to your doctor (or one of our highly qualified physicians) for further advice on your individual case. Thanks for visiting DocChat!