What Are the Side Effects of a High Fiber Diet?


Quick Answer

Eating a high-fiber diet positively effects the body by helping to lower cholesterol levels, which can help prevent heart disease, and may help people lose weight by making them feel fuller. A sudden increase in dietary fiber can have negative side effects, such as bloating, gas, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.

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To avoid the negative side effects of a high-fiber diet, gradually increase fiber intake until the body adjusts. In addition, drink at least 8 glasses of water per day to help fiber pass through the digestive system and prevent constipation. Although eating too much fiber can interfere with the absorption of iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc, high-fiber foods tend to be rich in minerals, so this risk is minimal. A high-fiber diet may be recommended to treat or prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, diabetes and colon cancer. The American Dietetic Association recommends that adults consume 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day, but most only eat 10 to 15 grams per day.

Fiber can be soluable or insoluable, and both help with a healthy diet. Soluable fiber draws water to it and slows digestion. Foods high in soluable fiber include oat bran, beans, apples, barley, nuts and seeds. Insoluable fiber helps speed digestion and adds bulk to the stool. Good sources of insoluble fiber include wheat bran, whole grains, cauliflower and potatoes.

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