How Much Fiber Do You Need to Control Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Doctors Say, "Eat More Fiber" - But How Much is "More"?

The advice on fiber consumption for IBS sufferers is often confusing and conflicting. Some experts say that you should reduce fiber and switch to a low-residue diet. Others insist that more fiber is better.

(c) Copyright Kathy Steinemann

Not all fiber is created equal.

Roughage is insoluble fiber - often scratchy in texture. Many people with IBS or IBD have been told to increase their intake of soluble fiber - the soothing substance that turns into a gel and helps to calm an irritated digestive system.

In my experience, increasing soluble fiber is the answer for both constipation and diarrhea. More and more research indicates that soluble fiber is an excellent weapon in the battle against irritable bowel syndrome.

Part of the following article is an excerpt from my book, IBS-IBD Fiber Charts: Soluble & Insoluble Fibre Data for over 450 Items, Including Links to Internet Resources.

I always thought my diet included enough fiber, until I started to keep a food diary. I was wrong!

Here are the recommended daily guidelines, as suggested by the IOM (Institute of Medicine of the National Academies).

Males
• 9-13 years - 31 grams
• 14-50 years - 38 grams
• 50+ years - 30 gram

Females
• 9-18 years - 26 grams
• 19-50 years - 25 grams
• 50+ years - 21 grams

Remember that as you increase fiber, you will need to consume enough liquids and water. If you don't, that fiber will not digest properly and constipation may develop.

The IOM also presents information on recommended consumption of water, which includes all beverages as well as moisture in foods. However, their advice is to let thirst be your guide, with a general recommendation that women consume about 2.7 liters (91 ounces) and men about 3.7 liters (125 ounces) of water daily from all sources.

If you have watery diarrhea or are sweating due to hot weather or prolonged physical activity, you should increase fluid consumption. Be careful, however, as too much fluid can also cause problems.

You can increase your soluble fiber intake by monitoring consumption of foods and supplements like those found in this list of foods high in soluble fiber.

Be sure to check out Kathy's books about IBS:

The IBS Compass: Irritable Bowel Syndrome Tips, Information, Fiber Charts, and Recipes. Here is a navigational tool that will help you steer through the maze of advice about irritable bowel syndrome.

IBS-IBD Fiber Charts: Soluble & Insoluble Fibre Data for over 450 Items, Including Links to Internet Resources. Keep an eye on your fiber consumption no matter where you happen to be --in a restaurant, grocery store, or your own kitchen.

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