Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Too Much Fiber? Dietary Fiber and Your Nutrition

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Have you ever thought about whether you are eating too MUCH fiber? Most people probably don't have this problem, but it could be a problem if you are eating some of the very tasty new high fiber products on the market. One of my clients asked me this the other day, following a discussion we had on how yummy the new Fiber One granola bars are. These Fiber One bars a tasty 140 calories with 9 grams of fiber. I am also a fan of the new AllBran bars, which have 10 grams of fiber in each 120 calorie bar. We also have to mention my other favorite bar, the Gnu Foods Flavor and Fiber bar which has 140 calories and 12 grams of fiber. They are so tasty I have to remind myself not to eat more than one per day. If you have one of these bars for a few of your snacks every day, plus some high fiber cereal for breakfast, beans for lunch, and all of your other whole grains and fruits and vegetables, you are well on your way to 40-50 grams of fiber per day!

The mention of cereal brings me to another new treat I just discovered: Fiber One Carmel Delight cereal, which is quite tasty and has 9 grams of fiber per 1 cup serving. I often eat AllBran or Fiber One or some other high fiber cereal like Kashi, Shredded Wheat or oatmeal for breakfast. And we all know my love for beans. Allbran has even come out with Fiber Drink Mix, which has 10 grams in each powdered packet that you can add to water.

How much fiber should I get?
It is estimated that most Americans only get 12-15 grams of fiber per day. This is not nearly enough.
Adequate Intake Recommendations:
Women 50 years: 21 grams
Men 50 years: 30 grams

How much is too much?
As with anything, moderation is always best, even with 'healthy' foods like high fiber foods. I have seen clients before who are actually eating so much fiber that they are constipated! If you don't drink enough water along with your fiber, fiber can actually cause a blockage, and sometimes it can be very serious and require surgery. This is rare, but if you are a big fiber eater, make sure you are also an avid water drinker.

Effects of too much fiber:
Gas, diarrhea, general abdominal discomfort, constipation, possible blockages, or the need for urgent movements. Some research points to the inability to absorb certain nutrients, but other research refutes that.

I am not exactly sure how much is too much, but I am inclined to say anything above 50 grams per day may be a bit much. Try to stay less than 45 grams and you should be clear of any of these side effects.

Happy chewing!

Photo courtesy of istockphoto.com
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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