Fiber has been a hot topic for awhile now and it is pretty well known that most Americans do not get in the daily recommended amount of fiber. But, is it possible to eat too much fiber?
Let’s first get the basics down. What is fiber? Dietary fiber is a non-digestible complex form of a carbohydrate. There are two general groups of fiber, insoluble and soluble.
- Insoluble fiber: indigestible form of fiber found specifically in the stalks, skins and seeds of whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables. It is absorbed into the bloodstream and adds “bulk” to your poo which is good because it helps keep things moving along regularly.
- Soluble fiber: Forms a gel-like substance inside our digestive systems by absorbing water. It helps soften your poo for easy exit and also binds to cholesterol and sugars which slows them down from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
The Institute of Medicine recommends people should consumer anywhere from 19 – 38 grams of fiber per day and on average, people are only consuming about 15 grams of fiber per day. As you can see above, fiber (both forms) is very beneficial for regular bodily functions and it is very important to be getting enough fiber in your diet. However, is it possible to eat too much fiber?
The answer is yes. Too much insoluble fiber can cause issues like gas, bloating and an inflamed stomach. I know these symptoms all too well. When first going paleo I experienced gas and bloating at times and chalked it up to an intolerance to those foods like nuts and seeds (which are pretty high in insoluble fiber). It has recently become a problem again. I have been changing up my diet just a bit lately and have added even more fruits and vegetables into my diet to really focus on a whole foods diet. Well, the amount of insoluble fiber in the apples, broccoli and quinoa I have been consuming was putting my daily fiber intake over 40 grams per day. I have been playing with my fiber intake for the past couple days and have noticed if I keep it between 20-30 grams per day, I have absolutely no stomach issues. I am still getting in an adequate amount of dietary fiber per day but I am not going overboard to the point of feeling extremely uncomfortable.
If you are eating a mostly whole foods diet but experiencing these same symptoms, I encourage you to look at your fiber intake. You may be eating more than your body can handle and you might have to cut back. You can still eat healthy and eat a whole foods diet without going overboard. Checkout this article that lists some of the highest soluble and insoluble whole foods and gives you tips on how to still get in your fruits and veggies. I may or may not have this hanging on my fridge for reference… This article here is also very informative on fiber and its health benefits. It also has a large list of whole foods with their soluble and insoluble fiber rating.
This recipe is pretty fibrous dense which led me to paying more attention to my daily fiber intake. I can still consume these foods, I just need to keep my daily fiber intake in check when I do. If you are on the other end of the spectrum where you need to get in more fiber, make this immediately!
Lemon Kale and Quinoa Salad
- 1/4 cup quinoa
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 kale bunches, chopped
- 1 tblsp ghee
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place a small pot over medium high heat and add the chicken broth and quinoa. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- While the quinoa cooks place a skillet on the stove over medium high heat and add the ghee. Once melted add the kale and let wilt for 2-3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper and continue to let it wilt. Once it wilts to your desired consistency add the cooked quinoa and mix well. Eat as is or serve as a side dish for dinner. Enjoy!