In my last few articles I have been bigging up fibre. However, this article series wouldn’t be complete without providing a balanced view of the topic. That’s why today I am going to be discussing the disadvantages of a fibre rich diet.
1) WIND:- Wind is commonly listed as the main problem with a high fibre diet. I never had this problem when increasing my daily fibre intake but according to Weight Loss Resources a diet that is high in fibre can lead to the production of methane, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. This can then lead to you feeling bloated and frequently passing wind. Fortunately, this is only a short lived problem and your digestive system will adapt to an increased fibre intake over time. To reduce any potential problems with wind you should try and introduce additional fibre to your diet gradually which will make it easier for your body to adapt.
2) DIARRHOEA:- According to the Vitamins and Health Supplements Guide getting too much fibre can cause diarrhea. Therefore, if you notice that you have diarrhoea for a prolonged period of time this could indicate that you are overdosing on fibre. In this case you may need to cut down on the fibre slightly.
3) CONSTIPATION:- Although I cited reduced constipation as one of the benefits of consuming fibre eating too much fibre can (quite confusingly) also cause constipation IF you are not getting enough fluids. Insoluble fibre absorbs water in order to make your stools softer and easier to excrete. Soluble fibre mixes with water to form a gel like substance which is eventually excreted from the body. If this water is not replaced it can ultimately lead to a lack of fluid in your digestive tract which causes your stools to become dry, hard and difficult to pass. Therefore, you should try and make sure that when you increase your fibre intake you also increase your fluid intake accordingly. My article on 4 ways to drink more water contains some excellent advice in this area.
4) REDUCED MINERAL ABSORPTION:- Another benefit associated with soluble fibre consumption is that it holds foods in your stomach for longer which allows your body to fully absorb all the nutrients. However, according to Bawarchi excessive consumption of phytate (an acid found in many fibre rich foods) can prevent the absorption of calcium, iron and zinc. Therefore, when adding fibre to your diet make sure that you are also consuming adequate amounts of these minerals.
5) REMOVAL OF GOOD CHOLESTEROL:- Another benefit associated with soluble fibre is that it lowers heart disease by removing cholesterol from the body. However, Mark’s Daily Apple argues that lower cholesterol does not necessarily mean a lower risk of heart disease.
Like with most things in life you can have too much of a good thing. Fibre is no exception. However, in my opinion the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. If you add fibre to your diet at a gradual rate, drink plenty of water and most importantly don’t go overboard, you should be able to realise lots of the benefits and few (if any) of the drawbacks. My approach to fibre is to try and eat some with every meal but not be obsessive. So far it has worked as I have never noticed any side effects since increasing my fibre intake.
What about you? How much fibre do you consume each day? Do you take precautions to ensure that you are not getting too much fibre? Have you ever experienced any negative side effects when consuming fibre?
Dietary Fibre (Science Today)
Dietary Fibres (Vitamins and Health Supplements Guide)
Dietary Fibre Information (Bawarchi)
Fun with Fibre (Mark’s Daily Apple)
High Fibre Diet Review (Weight Loss Resources)