5 Signs Your Gut is Telling You That You’re Eating Too Much Fiber
While most Americans don’t get enough fiber in their diet, there are some who consume too much. If you’ve increased your fiber intake and are experiencing any of these five signs, your gut may be trying to tell you that you’re overdoing it.
Fiber is an important part of everyone’s diet, but just like almost everything else, too much of a good thing can be bad. In fact, consuming too much fiber may be just as problematic as not getting enough, so it’s important to be aware of the signs that your gut could be telling you that you’re overdoing it.
Most people don’t get enough fiber, but if you’re one of the few who is truly questioning whether or not you’re eating too much, that also means that you’re likely to be eating lots of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, which is obviously a great thing considering there are people who sometimes go for days not ingesting a single gram of fiber.
Still, these signs say it’s probably time to give your digestive system a break.
Gas and Bloating
Gas and bloating can be a common byproduct of a high fiber intake. Consuming the proper amount of fiber is key to preventing this potentially embarrassing, uncomfortable problem. Remember, you don’t want to overcompensate for a lack of fiber by eating more than your body needs. Try cutting back your fiber intake a bit, aiming for about 20 to 30 grams per day, and you’re likely to experience far less gas and bloating. Don’t rely on just one type of food to meet your body’s fiber requirements either, think variety, by consuming a wide range of fruits and veggies, nuts and beans.
The cause: The reason gas and bloating often result from eating a lot of fiber is that insoluble fiber isn’t digested when it moves through the body. Certain high fiber foods also tend to increase how much gas is in your system, such as broccoli and beans.
Overactive Bowels and Loose Stools
Any significant change in the type of stools and the amount of time that you’re spending in the bathroom is a sign from your gut that something might be wrong – and that something wrong may be your fiber levels. A high fiber intake often leads to problems like frequent trips to the toilet, including loose stools and even diarrhea. That’s because all that fiber is making your food move way too fast through your digestive tract.
Eating more well-balanced meals can help to ensure that you’re getting enough fiber, but not too much. You might, for example, combine a high-fiber food with a protein and carbohydrate, like a salmon filet served on a bed of spinach leaves with a baked sweet potato on the side.
The cause: Food requires time in order to be digested properly. Consuming lots of fiber often pushes that food through before it’s ready. By ingesting the proper amount of fiber, your stools won’t be loose, but they’ll have some bulk and will be easy to pass too.
Since too much fiber can lead to loose stools, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense that it could also cause constipation, but that can also be a sign of high fiber intake. That’s because fiber tends to soak up water which can lead to harder to pass stools that have spent too much time in the digestive tract. You may be able to eliminate this problem by drinking more water when adjusting to a higher fiber intake, but you may also need to cut back on fiber a bit as well.
The cause: Getting the proper amount of fiber lessens the odds of suffering from constipation, but too much can cause it because of the water it requires in order to do its job right. If you up your fiber intake without also upping your water intake, that can result in constipation.
Once again, water plays a very important role in a healthy digestive system. If you’ve been increasing the amount of fiber you consume each day without increasing your water intake, there’s a good chance that it will lead to dehydration. Fiber requires a lot of water to get through your system, and it can deprive your internal organs of what they need to function properly as well – each and every organ in your body has to get the water it needs or the body will suffer.
If you’re drinking lots of water (generally at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day), but still feel like you’re dehydrated, you may need to cut back your fiber intake.
The cause: Taking in a lot of fiber without increasing your intake can lead to dehydration faster than it usually would. That fiber soaks up all available water, leaving you dehydrated.
As increasing the amount of fiber you eat can lead you to feeling fuller sooner than you normally would, many people do so in an effort to lose weight. Then, when that needle on the scale goes in the wrong direction, it can be extremely frustrating – and that’s exactly what some have had happen after upping their fiber intake. The good news is that the added pounds usually aren’t from fat, but is more likely to come from water retention.
The important thing to remember when initially increasing the fiber in your diet is to not make a drastic change. If you were generally getting an average of about 10 grams of fiber daily, and want to get 30 grams or more, do it in small steps. For example, aim to get 15 grams a day for the first week, 20 the next, and so on, increasing the amount by just 5 grams each week so that your body can gradually get used to it.
The cause: The exact cause of weight gain related to high fiber intake is unknown, but some experts believe most reports are anecdotal. It could be because of all that fiber soaking up water, and then retaining it when constipated. It’s usually just temporary, but it is a sign that you may be taking in too much fiber too soon.
Moderation is Key
The key to just about everything, including food, is moderation. Eating a well-balanced diet will ensure you’re getting the right amount of fiber. Always listen to your body, and remember that most digestive pain tends to be self-inflicted. Keep in mind that all of these signs can also apply to a myriad of other conditions, but if you’re ingesting an average of over 30 grams of fiber each day and suffering from any one of them, try cutting back a bit and see if you can find relief.
Consider Taking a High Quality Probiotic Supplement
If you are suffering from any digestive ailment, especially those described above, a good probiotic can help get your gut back on track and healthy by restoring the proper balance of your gut bacteria. This can give you more energy, significantly reduce or even eliminate digestive symptoms, and improve your quality of life overall.
Whether you take too much, too little, or just the right amount of fiber, consider taking a high quality probiotic supplement which can help repopulate the gut with beneficial bacteria–boosting overall digestive health, supporting the immune system and contributing to better overall health.