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6 Health Risks of Eating Too Much Fiber

May 17, 2010

We constantly hear about the positive benefits of fiber, but despite all these benefits, too much fiber can cause several health problems. Some are embarrassing and uncomfortable side effects while others can lead to more severe health issues. Read below to learn about what can happen when you eat too much fiber.

Fiber is a natural substance found in fruits, vegetables and grains. It is an essential part of healthy digestion. Additionally, fiber adds bulk to your diet, making you feel fuller sooner and longer. It helps aid digestion and can prevent constipation.

Cramping

Cramping occurs because the body cannot properly break down fiber. If too much fiber is consumed, food digestion can be momentarily slowed or even stopped. This can lead to intestinal cramping and discomfort.

Diarrhea

If you increase your fiber intake too suddenly, then your body will not have enough time to adjust. One of the biggest benefits of fiber is that it increases the speed in which food moves throughout the digestive tract. By consuming too much fiber, you may increase this speed too much, which can lead to diarrhea.

Malabsorption

According to Colorado State University, because fiber binders to other foods, fiber could bind to nutrients and eliminate these minerals and vitamins without the body being able to absorb them. By eating too much fiber, you may interfere with how your intestines absorb certain minerals. Often, too much fiber can lead to the malabsorption of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Despite this side effect, this malabsorption is typically so minimal that it does not cause for much concern.

Constipation

If you eat too much fiber without enough water, then you may become constipated. The body’s digestive tract requires fluids to help move things along. If you do not have enough fluids in your system, then your intestines will not be able to work properly and you may become constipated.

Intestinal Gas

By eating too much fiber in a short amount of time, you may experience flatulence, bloating and intestinal gas. This occurs as a reaction the natural bacteria in your digestive tract has to the fiber. To avoid this side effect, simply gradually increase your fiber intake so the natural bacteria can adjust to the fiber.

Intestinal Blockage

An intestinal blockage would be the worst side effect you could get from consuming too much fiber. This occurs when an individual eats too much fiber and does not consume enough water. Fiber can cause a blockage in the intestines, preventing any other foods to get past. Intestinal blockages can be serious health conditions and may require surgery.

To avoid these side effects, simply gradually increase your fiber intake over a few weeks. When increasing your fiber intake, make sure to also increase your fluid intake. It is recommended that you drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Additionally, to help you track your fiber intake, use FitDay to track your nutrition and calories, which can help lead to weight loss.

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