Is it possible you are eating too much fiber?
Ideally, men should be eating around 30 – and women, 25 – grams of fiber per day. This habit will help you maintain regular bowel movements and relieve constipation. It will also promote the growth of beneficial bacteria inside your bowels, which in turn contributes to a stronger immune system. Unfortunately, most Americans do not eat enough fiber, consuming only about half of the recommended daily allowance.
But there can be a dark side to fiber consumption, and if you are zealously scarfing down bran muffins and garbanzo beans like there's no tomorrow, you need to be aware of it.
If you amp up your fiber consumption suddenly, you can wreak havoc with your digestive system in the form of bloating, pain and gas. Cramping may occur because your body cannot break down the fiber fast enough.
Although it may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, eating too much fiber can even cause diarrhea. Under normal circumstances, one of the big advantages of consuming fiber is that it increases the speed in which food passes through your system. Eat too much fiber too quickly, and you risk accelerating your other food's passage up to diarrhea-level speed.
Fiber, of course, is best known for hardening and speeding along your bowel movements. But if you have always been chronically constipated, it is likely that a high-fiber diet is inadvisable.
If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, eating a lot of fiber can hurt you in a different way. IBS occurs when the muscles lining your stomach contract either too strongly or not robustly enough. Although the role of food in causing or sustaining IBS is not completely understood, doctors do know that the short-chainfermentable carbs known as FODMAPs are particularly problematic for IBS sufferers. As many fiber-rich foods are also high in FODMAPs, a fiber-rich diet will easily make your IBS that much worse.
Absorption can be an issue with a high-fiber diet even if you don't already suffer from IBS. Too much fiber in your system can interfere with your intestine's ability to absorb certain minerals and vitamins. This is because fiber binds to these nutrients and your body will pass them directly in your stool.
The worst case scenario for a fiber-fixated over-achiever is an intestinal blockage. This condition arises when you eat too much fiber and not drink enough fluids. The excess fiber prevents any other food from getting through the intestine, and the condition often requires surgery to remedy.