Fiber for IBS: Things You Need to Know

Updated on November 11th, 2019
Fiber for IBS

Fiber for IBS remains one of the best and time-tested solutions for this disorder. It is also backed by science. For IBS with constipation, high-fiber diets are recommended. A low fiber diet for IBS with diarrhea is recommended. IBS is due to a deficient intake of dietary fiber(1).

Most doctors recommend that patients suffering from classic GI symptoms such as constipation should opt for fiber supplements. Different types of dietary fiber have different chemical and physical properties. Associated health benefits for each fiber type vary. A soluble fiber foods list for IBS should distinguish between short-chain and long-chain fiber. Here’s precisely and exactly what you need to know about fiber diet for IBS.

How Soluble Fiber for IBS Works

Fiber Foods

While choosing soluble fiber for IBS, be sure to know the difference between short-chain and long-chain fibers. Short-chain, soluble dietary fiber like oligosaccharides are known for causing gas, bloating, and discomfort in IBS patients(2). On the other hand, long-chain, viscous, and moderately fermentable soluble fiber results in low gas production and improves IBS symptoms.

Such foods include psyllium. Here’s how it works. Dietary fiber exerts different mechanisms to act on the GI tract, cleansing the body of toxins with irritation and mechanical stimulation of colonic mucosa. Fiber such as this act on the intestine microbiota(3) besides impacting the neuroendocrine system of the GI tract(4). Dietary fiber lowers blood cholesterol levels, enhances glycemic control and body weight, besides improving IBS symptoms.

[Read: Natural Treatment for IBS]

Soluble Fiber Foods List for IBS

Fiber works like an on-off switch for IBS. Soluble fiber helps with diarrhea. This is because soluble fiber is hydrophilic and works as a magnet for drawing water out. Through this property, excess fluid is removed by soluble fiber. This reason is why soluble fiber wards off diarrhea associated with IBS. Soluble-rich fibers consist of specific fruits and vegetables, such as:

  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Peas
  • Blueberries
  • Beans
  • Cereals like barley, oats, and bran.

Why Is Insoluble Fiber the Best Option for IBS With Constipation?

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It remains intact in the digestive system, adding bulk and working as a laxative for easing bowel movements. This remedy can be helpful for constipation. Insoluble-fiber for IBS includes broccoli, zucchini, flax seeds, leafy greens, cabbage, whole grains, chia seeds, rolled oats, cereals like brown rice.

Less dietary roughage makes bowel movements harder. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics stipulates 25 grams of fiber for women and 38 grams for men every day. Those over age 50 may require less fiber of around 30 grams for males and 21 grams for females. Get your fiber through whole-grain cereal and bread, fruits and vegetables

The Best Fiber Supplement for IBS: Know More

While meeting everyday fiber needs is accomplished by consuming the right diet, fiber supplements can also help. The best fiber supplement for IBS(5) the range across methylcellulose, psyllium, calcium polycarbophil, and wheat dextrin. Always choose a fiber supplement that is US-FDA approved. Increase intake by 2-3 grams per day. For example, if you eat 5 grams of fiber generally, try taking 7-8 grams and increase from there.

Certain fruity foods rich in sugar sorbitol like prune juice, dried plums, and prunes can loosen the bowels. But a low-fiber diet for IBS works, if you have diarrhea, as too much fiber causes bloating, cramping, flatulence and diarrhea. Ground flaxseed can also ease IBS constipation symptoms. So can staying well-hydrated.

So, depending on whether you have diarrhea or constipation, fiber for IBS helps. For constipation, a high-fiber diet is the best option. Choose from a plethora of fiber-rich fruits, veggies, and cereals. But if you don’t face constipation and suffer from diarrhea instead, a low-fiber diet is beneficial. Opt for soluble fibers if you face watery stool as a symptom of IBS. On the other hand, for those with constipation, insoluble fiber for IBS works best.

[Read: Home Remedies for IBS]


1. Is a High-Fiber Diet Good for IBS?

If the chief symptom of IBS is constipation, and not diarrhea, a high-fiber diet can help you to remove toxins from the body. High-fiber food adds bulk to stool and exerts a powerful laxative effect. Fecal mass increases when insoluble dietary fiber is added to the diet. This dietary addition stimulates the colonial mucosa and results in better colonic transit. Soluble dietary fiber, on the other hand, increases stool bulk by fermenting byproducts like gas and short-chain fatty acids, increasing the biomass.

2. How Much Fiber for IBS Works Best?

If you are facing diarrhea, a low-fiber or soluble, short-chain fiber-rich diet can help. If you are constipated, a high-fiber diet of around 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men is recommended. Increase fiber intake by 2-3 grams each day.

3. Is too much fiber bad for IBS?

Too much fiber can have a detrimental effect if you are undergoing diarrhea as a critical symptom of IBS. A low-fiber diet is recommended. Also, for diarrhea, short-chain, soluble fiber works best. For constipation, your fiber intake should be regulated again, to be around 25-38 grams depending on your gender. It is recommended not to take too much fiber for IBS except the prescribed amount as excessive fiber can cause abdominal cramps, nausea, gas, discomfort, and bloating.

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