Fiber is a part of a healthy diet. Fiber refers to foods that cannot be broken down by the digestive system. As a result, it helps move food through the intestines and prevents constipation, which helps maintain digestive health.
Examples of high fiber foods include apples, beans, broccoli, berries, avocado, pears, nuts, and whole grains. Balance is key when trying to incorporate fiber into your diet, and gradually increasing the amount of fiber in your diet is the way to go.
How Much Fiber Do You Need?
General guidelines for fiber intake are 21 to 25 grams per day for women and 30 to 38 grams per day for men. Talk to your doctor about how much fiber you should consume per day, as it may vary depending on your health and lifestyle. For instance, a patient with a certain gastrointestinal disorder may be asked to avoid eating a high-fiber diet.
Pros of a High-Fiber Diet
There are many benefits of having a high-fiber diet, such as:
- Eliminating toxins from the gastrointestinal tract
- Increasing the weight and size of stools
- Softening stools, so they are easier to pass
- Helping maintain regular bowel movements
- Helping improve gut bacteria
- Lowering cholesterol
- Benefitting heart health
- Helping regulate blood glucose levels and lowering type 2 diabetes risk
- Making you feel full longer
- Aiding in weight loss
- Helping with maintaining a healthy weight
- Reducing colon and breast cancer risk
Cons of a High-Fiber Diet
A high-fiber diet can have negative side effects in some people with gastrointestinal problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. It is also not advisable for patients who have just had bowel surgery.
Suddenly consuming large amounts of high fiber foods can also cause gastrointestinal discomfort, such as gas and bloating. Consuming too much fiber too quickly can also cause constipation, as stool bulks up and becomes more difficult to pass. This is why a gradual increase in fiber intake is recommended for everyone.
Ultimately, there are fewer negative effects of a high-fiber diet than there are benefits. If you would like to have more fiber in your diet without experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms, it may be best to consult a doctor. A gastrointestinal (GI) doctor can give you personalized recommendations to help you reap the benefits of a high-fiber diet. However, if high-fiber foods are giving you problems, a GI doctor can determine what is causing your symptoms and diagnose or rule out certain GI disorders.
GI Doctor in Austin, TX
The gastroenterologists at Austin Gastroenterology (AG) can help you maintain good digestive health. If you have a GI condition that prevents you from having a high-fiber diet, we can design a treatment plan that ensures you do not end up overeating, suffering from fiber deficiency, and having irregular bowel movements. Our physicians can provide for all your gastrointestinal needs, from diagnosis to treatment and prevention. We are excited to give you the best GI care in Central Texas.