What Happens If You Eat Too Much Fiber

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4 Symptoms That You're Eating Too Much Fiber

4 Symptoms That You're Eating Too Much Fiber

There's a reason why packaged foods tout high fiber counts on the label. Fiber, after all, promotes gut health, regular digestion, and stable blood sugar levels. However, you can have too much of a good thing, which is why you should be on the lookout for signs that you've consumed too much fiber.

  • According to the Mayo Clinic, common fiber sources include:
  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Whole-wheat flourNuts
  • Lentils, peas, and beans are examples of legumes.
  • Oatmeal and oatmeal

Most people do not consume enough of this nutrient on a daily basis. However, it is possible to overdo it, particularly if you regularly snack on high-fiber bars or take a supplement.

So, what happens if you consume an excessive amount of fiber? Keep an eye out for these four fiber overload symptoms (and what to do to avoid side effects of too much fiber in the future).

1. You have a bloated or gassy feeling

According to dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table, a little bloating and gas is normal when you eat a fiber-heavy meal, especially if it includes cruciferous veggies like cauliflower or Brussels sprouts. However, if your symptoms cause discomfort or interfere with your daily life, you may be overdoing it.

According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, fiber is a carbohydrate that cannot be digested. Instead, it passes unprocessed through your body. As a result, as the nutrient moves through your system, you may feel bloated or gassy.

You may also experience gas and bloating if you increase your daily fiber intake too quickly, according to Taub-Dix — in other words, you can consume too much fiber at once. While you may be eating the recommended daily amount (which ranges from 21 to 38 grams depending on age and gender), going from 10 grams one day to 30 grams the next is likely to cause digestive problems.

What is the solution? Because you can overeat fiber if you consume it too quickly, start slowly. According to the Mayo Clinic, gradually incorporate the nutrient into your diet over a few weeks to allow your body time to adjust.

2. You Have Constipation

Fiber is supposed to aid in the elimination of waste. However, one disadvantage of eating too much of the nutrient is that it can sometimes cause constipation, according to Taub-Dix.

Soluble and insoluble fibers are the two types of fiber. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, soluble fiber, found in oats, nuts, and beans, dissolves in water and helps control blood sugar levels, keeping you full throughout the day.

Insoluble fiber, found in wheat and legumes, aids in the movement of food through your digestive system, promoting bowel regularity.

However, eating too much fibrous food, such as oatmeal or whole-wheat cereal, can have negative consequences: If you don't drink enough water, these fibers can cause constipation rather than prevent it.

How to Get Rid of Constipation Caused by Too Much Fiber

If you're constipated because you ate too much fiber, Taub-Dix suggests increasing your water intake. She recommends drinking at least one tall glass of fluid with each meal.

The amount of water you should drink each day varies depending on your gender, age, and activity level, but the Mayo Clinic recommends that most people drink between 11.5 and 15.5 cups per day.

Getting enough exercise is another way to help alleviate the side effects of eating too much fiber, such as constipation. Moving on a daily basis helps to increase muscle activity around your intestines, which can promote normal bowel movements.

3. You're Suffering From Abdominal Pain

According to the Mayo Clinic, increasing your fiber intake too quickly can cause your stomach to cramp and feel distended, if not painful.

According to Taub-Dix, stomach cramping or bloating will usually go away once your body digests and passes the fibrous foods you ate. Increase your overall fiber consumption over the course of a week or two (rather than all at once), and these symptoms of too much fiber will most likely disappear.

However, if you continue to experience discomfort while digesting high-fiber foods, consult your doctor or a dietitian. They can assist you in determining which foods your body does not enjoy.

You also don't want to confuse a little extra bloating with weight gain, according to Taub-Dix. Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients and low in calories, so the last thing you want to do is eliminate them from your diet because of bloating.

"Just because your stomach feels distended after eating too much fiber doesn't mean you've gained weight," Taub-Dix says. "This isn't about fat, and it has nothing to do with fat." This is simply bloat caused by your body's carbohydrate processing, which can occasionally result in air bubbles."

Taub-Dix recommends drinking plenty of water or sipping tea to help soothe a cramped stomach.

4. You've Got Loose Stools

Although it is uncommon, eating too much fiber can occasionally result in diarrhea or loose stools, according to Taub-Dix. This is more common if you consume an excessive amount of fiber supplements (such as gummies) or eat a lot of fiber-fortified foods (think snack bars and breakfast cereals).

"This side effect can occur when you try to increase your fiber intake too quickly and are not used to it," Taub-Dix says. "If that's the case, make sure you're staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and cutting back on fiber for a day or two until your system settles down."

Medication and Fiber Supplements

According to Harvard Health Publishing, eating fibrous foods while taking medication is generally safe. When it comes to supplements, however, it is best to take them two or three hours before or after your fiber pill.

Because fiber supplements act like a broom in your digestive tract, they may sweep your medication out before it has a chance to absorb.

It's also important to remember that the FDA does not require supplements to be proven safe or effective before they can be sold, so there's no guarantee that any supplement you take is safe, contains the ingredients it claims to contain, or produces the effects it claims to produce.

How Much Fiber Should You Consume Each Day?

Most people aren't getting enough fiber because of some of today's popular diet fads (looking at you, keto diet). However, as you may have discovered firsthand, eating too much fiber can have negative consequences.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, the average American consumes 10 to 15 grams of fiber per day. Here's a breakdown of how much adults should be getting, broken down by age and gender:

How Much Fiber Should You Eat Every Day?

  • For men ender 50 needs 38 g of fiber days 
  • For women ender 50 needs 25 g fiber days 
  • For men over 50 they needs 30 g of fiber 
  • For woman over 50 needs 21 g of fiber 

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