Dr Sanjay Agrawal
Leading Pharmaceutical Consultant and Editor-in Chief of IJMToday
Although a recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, has not been set for fiber because of insufficient evidence, the Food and Nutrition Board has set an Adequate Intake for the nutrient. The Adequate intake of fiber is the amount that should satisfy the needs of most healthy individuals within a specified age range. While fiber has a number of health benefits for the body, eating too much can lead to uncomfortable side effects and potentially serious complications.
Fiber is a sort of starch found normally in plant-based nourishments that isn’t edible in people.
Plant-based nourishments that are rich in fiber for example, organic products, vegetables, entire grains, beans and vegetables, nuts and seeds — additionally contain nutrients, minerals, and other ground-breaking supplements that the body can use for ideal wellbeing.
In spite of the fact that fiber can’t be processed, it is being moved down the stomach related tract as supplements are being processed, and can do some extraordinary things that emphatically enhance our wellbeing.
A less complex proposal level for most grown-ups is somewhere in the range of 25 and 38 g for daily intake. Actually, fiber is recorded as a “supplement of worry” because of the low generally consumption and realized medical advantages.
What is the optimal amount of fiber to have per day?
The recommended minimum daily fiber intake depends on your gender and age.
- Adult fiber intake
- Adults (50 years or younger) Adults (over 50)
- Men- 38 g, 30 g
- Women – 25 g, 21 g
- Child and adolescent fiber intake
- Daily fiber intake
- Children (1 to 3 years)- 19 g
- Children (4 to 8 years) – 25 g
- Children (9 to 13 years) – 26 g (female), 31 g (male)
Adolescents (14 to 18 years) – 26 g (female), 38 g (male) Taking in more fiber than your recommended daily intake can cause unwanted symptoms like those listed below.
How does fiber affect your digestion?
There are two main types of fiber. Each type of fiber plays a different role in digestion:
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool and helps food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines. It also helps balance the pH in your intestine, and may prevent diverticulitis, an inflammation of the intestine, as well as colon cancer.
Soluble fiber attracts water and forms a gel-like substance with food as it’s digested. This, in turn, slows down digestion and helps you feel full faster, which is important in weight management. It may also help lower your risk of heart disease, regulate your blood sugar, and help reduce LDL cholesterol.
Fermentable fibers can be from both these categories, though more often soluble fibers are fermented. Fibers fermented by bacteria help increase the bacteria in the colon, which aids digestion. It also plays a major role in human health.
What are the symptoms of too much fiber?
The recommended daily intake of fiber is 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. However, some experts estimate as much as 95 percent of the population don’t ingest this much fiber.
While it appears most people fall short of their recommended fiber intake, it’s actually possible to have too much fiber, especially if you increase your fiber intake very quickly. Too much fiber can cause:
- Abdominal pain
- Loose stools or diarrhea
- Temporary weight gain
- Intestinal blockage in people with Crohn’s disease
- Reduced blood sugar levels, which is important to know if you have diabetes
- How can I relieve symptoms of too much fiber?
If you ate too much fiber and are experiencing the symptoms of too much intake, try the following to help counteract the effects:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Stop using any fiber supplements.
- Avoid high-fiber foods.
- Eat a bland diet.
- Remove fiber-fortified foods from your diet.
- Look for foods that contain substances such as inulin and chicory root extract.
- Engage in light physical activities, like walking, as often as possible.
- Consider keeping an online diary of your food intake to help you see how much fiber you’re getting each day.
- Consider following a low FODMAP diet if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This temporary diet can improve symptoms by removing fermentable, fibrous foods from your diet.
Once you start feeling better, you should slowly reintroduce fiber-rich foods into your diet. Instead of eating fiber-rich foods in one meal, spread them out throughout the day. It’s best to get your fiber from a variety of foods, so don’t rely on any one food or source. Aim for a wide range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts.
Increasing Your Fiber
To prevent uncomfortable side effects, increase your fiber intake slowly over the span of a few weeks. Begin by adding more fresh fruits and veggies into your diet. You can eat them alone or sneak them into other foods — such as adding chopped veggies to pasta sauce or soup and mixing fruit into smoothies and yogurt. After a week or so, start trading white bread and pasta for whole-wheat versions. Try to get half of your daily grains from whole-grain foods. Once you’re comfortable with this fiber intake, add fiber-rich beans or cereal to your daily diet. Drink plenty of water throughout the entire process.
Fiber intake is a delicate balance. Though it may be better to have too much than too little, you’ll need to be cautious. Try not to make any drastic sudden changes to your fiber intake.
If you feel constipated and want to increase your fiber intake to help give you relief, add just a few grams of fiber to your diet each week from a variety of foods. Only take a fiber supplement if you don’t think you’re getting enough fiber from the foods you eat. Always be sure you’re also drinking enough water to avoid constipation or indigestion.
Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you’re experiencing nausea, vomiting, a high fever, or a complete inability to pass gas or stool for more than a few days.