You Increase Your Fiber Intake Too Quickly
Patience is a virtue when it comes to increasing your fiber intake. One of the greatest benefits of fiber can also be your greatest enemy if you’re eating more fiber than your body can handle.
Some fibers easily ferment in the gut, and this has a prebiotic effect , but it also produces gas. That’s why one of the biggest fiber mistakes is eating too much fiber and too soon, dietitian Erin Decker, RD, stresses.
“Increasing gradually will reduce the risk of gas and bloating,” Decker says. So, the moral of the story is, go slow.
If your fiber intake is not where it should be, add one more plant food to your diet each day until you reach the recommended amount. Your body will get used to you upping the intake and, after a while, you’ll barely notice any side effects.
Eating Too Much Fiber Can Damage Your Health Toohow To Heal As A Vegan
Fact: many folks do not consume enough fiber. The recommended daily fiber intake is 2530 grams for healthy adults. However, in the United States, many people consume closer to 15 grams a day.
But because I am a vegan who consumes a diet primarily of whole foods, I realized I was eating too much fiber. Indeed, eating a vegan diet puts us at an increased chance of exceeding the recommended fiber intake. Can there be too much of a good thing?
Tight Pelvic Floor Muscles
One little known cause of constipation is tight pelvic floor muscles. In order to have a normal bowel movement, physical therapist, Katy Rush, tells Bustle, your pelvic floor muscles must be able to relax enough so the bowel movement has enough room to come out. “Some people don’t have the ability to relax these muscles as much or as well as they should and ultimately this leads to constipation,” she says. “In some cases cases, using a stool or a squatty potty can also help the pelvic floor muscles relax.”
Don’t Miss: Can Not Eating Enough Cause Diarrhea
How To Deal With Constipation Due To Excess Fiber
While the symptoms of a person suffering with excess fiber and constipation are clear, the remedy is as simple as it can get. First, visiting a physician is a must. Try and reduce your intake of fiber based on your conversation with the physician and increase your water intake to boost metabolism and soften stool. Balance your diet with at least 8 glasses of water in a day and include a good proportion of soluble fibers and;bananas for a healthy gut.
Cardio vascular exercises like jogging, running, walking, climbing stairs cause friction in your bowels and breakdown hardness in the stools as your water intake increases along with the continuous movement of your body. Avoiding vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, beans and cauliflower for a while and eat insoluble fibers like oats, whole wheat in fewer proportions. This will build your metabolism solving the water-retention issue and helping you pass healthy stool.
Although fiber is good, the principle of excess of anything being a hazard is very much visible here. While fiber constipation is something that can be easily taken care off; undergoing pain due to a bad digestive system is definitely something no one wishes for. You are always advised to eat healthy; however, eating in proportion and ensuring your plate has everything from proteins to carbs with a good helping of fiber is a good way to maintain balance.
How Can Too Much Fiber Cause Constipation
Im working to wrap my head around this as well! But research indicates high fiber intake can cause constipation. The researchers conclude that previous strongly-held belief that the application of dietary fiber to help constipation is but a myth. Our study shows a very strong correlation between improving constipation and its associated symptoms after stopping dietary fiber intake. They posit that constipation is the difficulty of passing stools, and adding bulk through fiber doesnt help. If you want the gory details of how that works mechanically, click through the study.
Don’t Miss: Can Align Probiotic Cause Nausea
Why Too Much Dietary Fiber Can Cause Constipation
Dietary fiber is a familiar term to almost everyone. However, only a few people know how dietary fiber actually affects digestion.
Since conventional wisdom claims that dietary fiber is essential for healthy digestion, many people think they need to eat more fiber if they suffer from constipation.
Today, well assess if this widespread approach can work based on current studies.
Fiber Is Generally Good For Digestion
Dietary fiber is the name given to the non-digestible carbohydrates in plants. It can be found in all plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds.
Its usually categorized into two groups, based on solubility:
- Insoluble fiber: Found in wheat bran, vegetables and whole grains.
- Soluble fiber: Found in oat bran, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and peas, as well as some fruits and vegetables.
That said, most fiber-rich foods contain a mixture of insoluble and soluble fiber in varying proportions.
Even though your body cant digest fiber, eating enough of it is thought to be very important for your gut health. This is partly because dietary fiber increases the size of your stools and makes them softer.
Larger, softer stools help keep you regular, as they move more quickly through your bowels and are easier to pass .
These two types of fiber help with this in slightly different ways.
Insoluble fiber bulks up your stool and acts like a brush, sweeping through your bowels to get everything out and keep things moving.
The soluble variety absorbs water and forms a gel-like substance. This helps your stool pass smoothly through your bowels and improves its form and consistency.
The fermentation of one type of soluble fiber, known as prebiotics, in the large intestine can also help maintain a healthy gut by increasing its number of good bacteria .
This could also improve your health by decreasing your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity .
You May Like: Why Does Lettuce Give Me Diarrhea
Dont Skip The Beans Just Yet
Fiber is not bad for you. I know there is a lot of conflicting information and fad diets out there. Most of the time they shouldnt be used long-term or should only be used for people with certain conditions for pain and symptom management. If you are considering going on a restrictive diet its always best to do so under the supervision and guidance of a doctor or certified nutritionist. Instead of going to extremes, taking a balanced approach is a smart way to go.
Lets just take a look at fibers health benefits.
- regulates blood sugar levels
- reduces risk of certain cancers
- AND promotes regular bowel movements usually
To figure out why fiber usually helps with constipation and yet sometimes exacerbates it, we need to know the source of the fiber we are getting.
A Word On Fiber Supplements
There isn’t any evidence that taking daily fiber supplements is harmful, according to the Mayo Clinic. And if youre having trouble getting enough fiber in your diet for whatever reason, these pills and powders are a convenient way to help you close the gap, Young says. Its also great in a pinch if youre experiencing constipation, Dr. Lee says.
However, overloading on fiber too quickly is easier to do with supplements than whole foods, so the advice to start slow and drink enough water is especially important here to avoid side effects, Dr. Lee says. And since many supplements contain only soluble or insoluble fiber, youre not getting that balanced intake and regulation that you do with naturally fibrous foods, Young points out. Plus, some fiber supplements can interfere with the absorption of medications if you take them at a similar timeso take them at a different time of day from each other, and talk to your prescribing doctor before adding functional fiber to your diet. And definitely consult your doctor first if you have a GI condition.
The biggest overall drawback, though, is that if you rely on supplements to hit your fiber requirements, youre missing out on all the other nutrients found in the all-around healthy foods that naturally contain fiber, Young says. Plus, the real stuff just tastes so much better.
Read Also: Lettuce Causes Gas And Diarrhea
Surprising Things That Can Cause Constipation
Anyone who has ever been constipated before knows the struggle can be all too real. It’s not only uncomfortable, but it can also be painful and seemingly never ending for some. A lack of fiber, certain medications, and health conditions are some common causes behind why you may be constipated. But according to experts, there are also some surprising causes to be aware of.
According to the U.S. Department of Health an Human Services, constipation is pretty common across all ages and tends to affect women more than men. It’s basically a condition in which someone has difficulty emptying their bowels, usually due to hardened stool. As Jeffrey Kim, MD, FAAFP, family medicine physician at Loma Linda University Health, tells Bustle, it can affect each person differently and may cause abdominal pain, bloating, discomfort and feelings of unease or distress.
According to Dr. Kim, constipation can be caused by a number of different things. For instance, not drinking enough fluids or eating enough fiber are pretty common causes. “Sometimes underlying medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, colon cancer, or other medical disorders can cause constipation,” he says. “Certain medications such as opioids are also a common cause. In older patients, the cause can be multi-factorial. Some patients who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome may have higher rates of constipation.”
Skipping Workouts Or Being Inactive
Skipping workouts can lead to constipation or make it worse. As Christina Friedman, health expert and founder of Women’s Fitness HQ, tells Bustle, “Not getting into motion can keep food from making its way through the intestines.” It’s one of the many reasons why people are recommended to take walks after a large meal. Exercise in general is also good for keeping your bowel movements regular.
Recommended Reading: Can Prenatal Vitamins Cause Diarrhea
Can Too Much Fiber Cause Constipation
Researchers from Singapore studied the effect of reducing dietary fiber on patients with idiopathic constipation. For this purpose, they explained the role of dietary fiber in the gastrointestinal tract to 63 patients.
During the first two weeks, all participants had to adhere to a no-fiber diet. After that, however, patients could reduce their fiber intake to an amount they deemed appropriate.
Then scientists split them up into zero, reduced, and high fiber diet groups. However, at the beginning of the study, all participants suffered from constipation and distension opening symptoms.
About half of them experienced additional symptoms such as anal bleeding, bloating, and abdominal pain.
During the six-month study, the different groups each progressed in distinct directions:
- High-fiber diet: all five symptoms in the group increased throughout the study. Also, subjects in this group maintained an average of only one bowel movement per week.
- Reduced-fiber diet: In this group, symptoms of chronic constipation systematically decreased. Thereby, bowel movements frequency increased from one per 4.2 days to one every other day.
- No-fiber diet: Surprisingly, all symptoms disappeared in the group that had eliminated fiber from the diet. Furthermore, bowel frequency increased from one bowel movement in 3.75 days to one per day.
In summary, the study provides evidence that reducing fiber intake also reduces constipation and its symptoms.
How Fiber Helps Ease Constipation
This dietary wonder will help you feel regular, healthy, and full.
If you’re not a fiber fan, you’d be surprised at how the power nutrient can whip your digestive system into shape. Despite the benefits, Americans don’t consume as much fiber as they should.
The American Dietetic Association recommends that women ages 19 to 50 get at least 25 grams of fiber in their daily diets, and men in the same age group get 38 grams. Women age 50 or older are recommended to get 21 grams of fiber, while their male counterparts are encouraged to eat 30 grams. “The average American consumes 13 grams of fiber,” Stephen Bickston, MD, AGAF, professor of internal medicine and director of the inflammatory bowel disease program at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Center in Richmond, Va, points out. “That’s far less than the target.”
Constipation and Fiber: A Match Made in Heaven
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, that can be used to treat and prevent constipation. Both types of fiber are essential for keeping your intestinal system running smoothly. Soluble fiber allows more water to remain in your stool, making waste softer, larger, and thus, easier to pass through your intestines. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your fecal material, which hastens its passage through your gut and prevents that constipated feeling.
Constipation and Fiber: Foods to Help You Go
Foods that contain the most fiber are:
Constipation and Fiber: Create a Routine
You May Like: How Long Does Ibs Flare Up Last
Too Much Fiber In Your Diet Symptoms And Effects Of Fiber Overload
Symptoms and Effects of Fiber Overload
There is no doubt that fiber is an important element of your diet. It is what makes up plan tissue, and even though it is a type of carbohydrate, our bodies cannot digest it.
Fiber is important because it adds bulk to your diet, helps to make you feel fuller faster, and can help with weight control .
While fiber is essential in the right amounts, is it possible to go overboard with it? While it is rare, you can, indeed, consume too much. The symptoms of too much fiber are not serious, but they are anything but fun.
What are the Health Benefits of Fiber?
There are two types of dietary fiber: insoluble fiber and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber provides bulk needed for stool formation and the movement of food through the digestive system. This helps to prevent constipation .
Soluble fiber is responsible for the health benefits to the heart and circulatory system. It also helps to slow digestion and nutrient absorption to prevent blood sugar spikes
In addition to adding essential bulk to your diet, fiber plays an important role in promoting overall health.
Some of the health benefits of a high-fiber diet include:
Reduced total cholesterol:High cholesterol, particularly LDL cholesterol is associated with heart disease. Some people have naturally high cholesterol, while others have high cholesterol due to dietary and lifestyle factors. Consuming fiber helps contribute to lowering those factors .
What Foods Contribute Fiber to the Diet?
What Can You Do If You’ve Gone Overboard On Fiber
Unfortunately, theres no magic pill that will absorb all that excess fiber and make it disappear out of your body. But you can treat the symptoms. If gas is your issue, taking an OTC gas-fighting pill that contains simethicone can help, Menon says. Diarrhea should pass, but if thats gotten out of hand, you can also consider taking an anti-diarrheal medication to stop things up.
Yeah, fiber is important, but don’t forget about protein! Check out these high-protein ice creams:
Recommended Reading: Can Taking A Probiotic Help You Lose Weight
Fiber Is Not Always The Answer
If adding fiber to your diet in the form of food orsupplements makes you more bloated and blocked than before, there are a numberof potential reasons. For example, in slow transit constipation, a conditionwhere the bowel does not move things quickly through, fiber sits in your gut andcan make you feel worse.
Long story short: If fiber makes you worse, dont just addmore. See your doctor.
Can Eating Too Much Fiber Make You Constipated
The concept of adding fiber to your diet;has always been proven as a beneficial move for your metabolism. Along with reducing the risk of heart disease or balancing cholesterol levels in the body, fibers alleviate sugar and glucose levels, ensuring everything is in the right proportion. Including whole wheat products, fibrous fruits and green leafy vegetables in your diet is always a boon and will help you lead a healthy lifestyle.
Recommended Reading: Will Taking A Probiotic Help Me Lose Weight
What Is The Best Way To Get Fiber
In general, its better to get fiber from the food you eat than from supplements. This is because high-fiber foods also have important vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay healthy.
What Are Complications Of Constipation
Constipation can cause complications, such as hemorrhoids, which occur by straining to have a bowel movement, or anal fissures which occur when hard stool stretches the sphincter muscle. This can result in rectal bleeding.
Sometimes, straining also causes rectal prolapse, where a small amount of intestinal lining pushes out from the anal opening. Constipation may also cause fecal impaction, which occurs mostly in children and older adults. The hard stool packs the intestine and rectum so tightly that the normal pushing action of the colon is not enough to expel the stool.
Also Check: Can Probiotics Help With Bv
How To Counteract Too Much Fiber
What can you do if you overeat fiber?
If you have symptoms of consuming too much, then the most important ways to counteract them are;
- STOP fiber intake until the condition subsides: consuming more fiber when there is a large amount still undigested will worsen the problem.
- Drink lots of water adequate hydration will help with the digestion process.
- Do some light exercise such as walking: exercise and movement are known to help improve constipation and speed digestion up.