Fiber and IBS: How Does Fiber Interact with IBS?

When investigating treatments for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fiber will appear frequently.

Regardless of whether you have IBS with constipation (IBS-C), IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D), or a combination of the two, the advice is the same: eat extra fiber. Indeed, this important carbohydrate is excellent for everybody, but why? How can it be so good for both seemingly opposed types of IBS?

If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), this article will tell you how to create a diet that works for you by focusing on the foods that help your symptoms the most.

What Is Dietary Fiber?

Dietary fiber, present in whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits, is a cornerstone of the human diet. Unlike other nutrients, the fiber goes through the system essentially untouched since it’s resistant to digestion, partly because our systems don’t create the proper enzymes to break it down. Dietary fiber can regulate the gastrocolic reflex and intestinal muscles – which constitute the part of the digestive tract that carries food through the system – therefore, it is advantageous to people who suffer from IBS.

what is dietary fiber

Because fiber significantly affects how food travels through the human body, it can have both favorable and negative impacts on a variety of individuals. If you feel that dietary fiber aggravates your IBS symptoms, you’re undoubtedly onto something since it can worsen the illness, particularly for people with IBS-D. Nevertheless, fiber may also have the opposite impact, and it’s vital to your general well-being and health, so you must discover ways to incorporate it into your diet safely. That’s exactly why we’re here!

What is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a colon disorder that is also known as spastic colitis, irritable colon, mucous colitis, and spastic colon.

The uncomfortable disorder comprises of several intestinal symptoms occurring together and may vary in duration and severity in different people.

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How Much Fiber Should You Eat to Reduce IBS?

So, how much fiber should one consume? The recommended daily fiber intake for individuals is between 22 and 30 grams. For adults aged 19 to 30, the recommended daily intake of protein is 28 grams for women and 33.6 grams for men.

For individuals between the ages of 31 and 50, the recommended daily protein intake is 25,2 grams for women and 30,8 grams for men. For individuals aged 51 and above, the recommended daily intake of protein is 22.4 grams for women and 28 grams for men.

How Much Should You Consume?

A cup of black beans provides 15 grams of fiber, whereas a cup of oatmeal provides 5 grams.

It seems doable, right? Surprisingly, research indicates that most Americans consume only 10 to 15 fiber grams daily on average. It is commonly advised that persons with IBS raise their fiber consumption to between 20 and 35 grams per day; however, because different forms of fiber can trigger varied gut responses, you must be selective about how you obtain these grams. But have no fear because we’ll cover all of it below!

How do you acquire fiber? Fortunately, dietary fiber is abundant in healthful eating, and many people can meet their daily requirements through diet alone. Dietary fiber supplements can help you accomplish your daily targets if you have difficulty consuming enough fiber through food.

Insoluble and Soluble Dietary Fiber

Soluble and insoluble fibers are the two basic fiber types.

Both varieties are present naturally in meals and can aid digestive function, albeit their effects are somewhat distinct. Most plant-based meals include insoluble and soluble fiber, but certain foods are rich. Knowing which foods to consume at any given time will assist you in managing your IBS symptoms more effectively.

Soluble fiber

Dissolves in water

Soluble fiber absorbs water, aids satiety, delays digestion, and reduces blood sugar. Starches such as rice, potatoes, yams, oats, black beans, chia seeds, and Brussels sprouts are rich in soluble fiber. As soluble fiber passes through the digestive tract, it loosens and breaks down food, making it more easily digestible. This is excellent for preventing both constipation and diarrhea.

Prevents diarrhea

When a person’s stool is predominantly liquid, the bowel muscles have nothing to cling to; thus, food travels swiftly through the intestines, creating diarrhea. Because soluble fiber retains excess fluids, it can assist in slowing digestion and firm stool.

Helps with constipation

Soluble fiber can help persons with constipation since it absorbs more water, which could also soften and break up a hard stool, making it easier to pass. People with constipation could also decide to increase their intake of insoluble fiber (more on this below), as it speeds up the transit of meals.

Insoluble Fiber

Is water-repellent

In contrast, insoluble fiber does not absorb water. Instead, it adds weight to the stool and speeds its passage through the intestines. Insoluble fiber-rich foods include seeds, legumes, greens, zucchini, celery, and almonds, which have a rough, stringy texture or a harsh exterior. A diet heavy in insoluble fiber is helpful for persons with constipation but is not suggested for those with diarrhea since it causes a significant gastrocolic reaction.

Tips for Including Fiber in Your IBS Diet

So, now that you’ve determined which fiber type is perfectly suited to your circumstances, it’s time to devise a strategy for getting enough of it. A well-designed IBS eating plan must account for fiber consumption through diet or supplementation. Here are some easy ways to eat more fiber.

Focus on Meeting Your RDA

Physicians recommend that IBS patients ingest 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily to aid digestion regulation and reduce discomfort. That comes within the recommended daily intake for many people (RDA).

People suffering from IBS who want to increase their fiber consumption for gut health can use the RDA as a guideline, given that the average person only consumes around 50% of the fiber required. Remember, there is such an issue as excessive fiber, and overeating might leave you in a less favorable state than you started in.

Think About a Low-FODMAP Diet

Following a low-FODMAP diet can do wonders for persons with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) since it substantially reduces or eliminates the intake of highly fermentable carbohydrates, which are known to produce diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, and stomach pain. Even though it removes some items, the low-FODMAP plan is rich in high-fiber foods.

Keep the Skin On

When attempting to improve your daily fiber intake, remember that many veggies contain a significant amount of fiber in their skins. This holds for vegetables such as potatoes, green beans, carrots, and eggplants. Studies indicate that unpeeled fruits and vegetables may contain up to 33 % more fiber than their peeled counterparts.

Even uneatable skin can be incorporated into a diet to increase fiber intake. For instance, citrus peels could be grated into zest for a fiber-rich (and flavorful) boost!

Be Cautious with Insoluble Fiber

You must follow a few crucial principles when consuming insoluble fiber to prevent your stomach from exploding. Because it is such a potent stimulator of the gastrocolic reflex, consuming excessively insoluble fiber or consuming it at the incorrect time can produce diarrhea, cramping, and pain. Follow these guidelines for optimal results:

If you’re hungry, eat some soluble fiber before insoluble fiber. Consuming this fiber on an empty belly might lead to discomfort and diarrhea.

Always combine insoluble fiber with soluble fiber of equal or greater quantity. It is also advisable to combine fat, which profoundly influences the gastrocolic reflex, with an equal or greater quantity of soluble fiber.

Always distribute your consumption of insoluble fiber throughout the day. An excessive amount of food consumed in one sitting may cause gastrointestinal upset.

Never boost your fiber intake dramatically. Gradually increase your daily intake to the recommended amount.

Don’t Be Afraid to Try Supplements

You can receive the necessary daily amount of fiber from food alone, but if you’re having trouble reaching your daily goals, a daily fiber supplement can be helpful.

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Fortunately, there is no proof that daily fiber supplementation is dangerous, but it can inhibit the absorption of certain drugs, such as aspirin and carbamazepine.

Therefore, the best approach to obtain your daily fiber intake is through your diet, as high-fiber foodstuffs tend to be nutrient-dense.

Additional Advantages of Dietary Fiber

As you can see, meals high in fiber can greatly aid digestive health. They can be used to treat a wide range of IBS types and symptoms, regardless of whether you suffer from diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of the two. However, fiber is useful for much more! It is essential to our health and well-being, delivering various benefits that help us stay healthy and avoid disease. Therefore, it is essential to incorporate it into your diet.

It Decreases Cholesterol

Have elevated cholesterol? You may wish to increase your fiber consumption. This essential mineral inhibits cholesterol absorption into the bloodstream and aids in reducing levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, sometimes known as “bad” cholesterol.

It Helps Regulate Blood Sugar

Particularly soluble fiber is known to slow the rate at which sugar is absorbed into the blood, assisting the body in controlling blood sugar levels. This may minimize your diabetes risk.

Maintains Gut Bacteria

The healthy bacteria in your intestine can assist regulate digestion and, because it inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria, can protect you from various significant health disorders. Good bacteria feed on fiber, which aids in maintaining a healthy microbiome balance.

It Could Help You Lose Weight

One of fiber’s primary jobs is to expand in the stomach and cause you to feel full. This can help you consume fewer calories and lose weight. If weight loss is your ultimate objective, be sure to consume an adequate amount of fiber.

Bottom Line

Fiber can induce IBS symptoms by causing an exaggerated response to physical stimuli or feeding bacterial fermentation. However, fiber, particularly soluble fiber, has been demonstrated to alleviate IBS symptoms and constipation. Individuals with IBS can find some relief with a healthier overall dietary pattern– by gradually increasing their fiber consumption with suitable portions of high-fiber (and especially high soluble fiber) foods that are also low in fermentable carbohydrates (namely FODMAPs).