Too much fiber can be just as troublesome as not enough, so it’s good to know the signs of taking it too far. While it may be better to err on the side of too much rather than too little. We’re after the Goldilocks of fiber intake, and getting it “just right” is the only way to go.
1. Gas and Bloating
Even though there are several benefits of getting enough fiber, taking in too much can leave you bloated and gassy. Ironically, when you get your fiber intake right you should experience far less gas and bloating than you did before increasing your fiber.
Finding the right amount of fiber to keep your digestive system balanced is key. You don’t need to be overzealous and overcompensate for a lack of fiber by eating more than is necessary.
Your body thrives on moderation and variety, so don’t rely on any one food item to bring you all the fiber you need. Make it a group effort from fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts.
[color-box color=”main”]What causes it: Insoluble fiber moves through the body without being digested, and there are certain foods that are high in fiber that are known for increasing the amount of gas in your system. Broccoli is one high-fiber vegetable known for causing digestive difficulties. Beans are another notorious food for the gas they can produce, as well as the fiber they contain.[/color-box]
2. Loose Stools
Too much fiber can lead to loose stools and diarrhea if you’re not careful. Loose stools are a sign that the food didn’t spend enough time in the digestive tract, and is a signal that you may want to slow your fiber intake.
Eating a balanced meal is one way to insure that you’re getting enough fiber, as well as other foods that aren’t so fiber-laden. Combining a protein with a high-fiber food as well as a carbohydrate will help you feel full longer while making sure you don’t take in so much fiber at once. For example, a chicken breast served with a spinach salad and a baked sweet potato gives you plenty of fiber, vitamins, minerals, but not too much fiber since the chicken contains zero fiber.
[color-box color=”main”]What causes it: Foods need time to be digested, and loading up on fiber can push them through before they’re ready. When you are getting the right amount of fiber you’ll know it because your stools will have bulk, will be easy to pass, and will stick together in the toilet after you pass them.[/color-box]
It seems counterintuitive that fiber could cause constipation, as its usually recommended as a preventive measure or reliever. But because fiber soaks up water it can result in stools that are hard to pass and spend too long in the digestive tract.
If you are trying to get more fiber in your diet, make sure that you’re also getting enough water. If you were previously dehydrated, a common problem in America, and increased your fiber intake, you may have noticed that it didn’t help matters. Gradually increase your water intake as you increase your fiber. It’s the only way to experience the benefits of proper fiber intake.
[color-box color=”main”]What causes it: The right amount of fiber reduces the chances of constipation, while too much can cause it. This happens because of the water that fiber needs in order to do its job. Getting more fiber without increasing your water intake can result in constipation.[/color-box]
Keeping your water intake the same while increasing your fiber will likely lead to dehydration. This is because fiber uses up a lot of water in your system, and can leave your internal organs deprived of what they need. Every organ benefits from getting enough water, and as a result your body suffers when there isn’t enough water to go around.
This of course can be caused by drinking too little water rather than taking in too much fiber. If you notice that you are drinking plenty of water and still feeling the side effects of being dehydrated, it’s time to check your fiber intake.
[color-box color=”main”]What causes it: Not drinking enough water while taking in too much fiber can leader to faster dehydration. The fiber will soak up the available water, leaving your body dehydrated. Be sure to increase your water when you increase your fiber, and don’t exceed your daily recommended fiber grams.[/color-box]
5. Weight Gain
If you’re increasing your fiber to help slim down to your optimal healthy weight, you might be perturbed to find that you’ve actually gained weight. But this is exactly what some dieters have reported when they attempt to get on the fiber train.
Take it easy when you attempt to increase your fiber. The body doesn’t respond well to drastic changes, and it isn’t going to do any good to try and correct the problem overnight. If you only got an average of 10 grams of fiber a day and are trying to get 30 grams or more, that’s quite a shock to the system. Try getting 15 grams a day for a week, 20 grams the following week, and keep increasing by 5 grams every week so you can ease your body into this new way of eating. It could be that you are loading up on the wrong foods in attempt to increase your fiber intake, such as too many starchy carbs.
[color-box color=”main”]What causes it: Most reports of weight gain from too much fiber are due to eating too many of the wrong foods, such as highly inflammatory processed carbohydrates. Aim for fresh fruits and vegetables that reduce inflammation in the body and stay away from the processed cereals, bagels, breads and other starchy carbs.[/color-box]