A Low-Fiber Diet is gentle on a stressed gastro system. Fiber is the part of plant-derived food that cannot be broken down by human digestive enzymes. It is made up of the indigestible parts or compounds of plants, which pass relatively unchanged through our stomach and intestines. They are diverse in chemical composition and can be grouped by their solubility, viscosity, and fermentability, which affects how fibers are processed in the body.
They are found in whole grains, cereals, fruits, and vegetables. Fiber is mainly a carbohydrate, and they help to ensure a healthy digestive system.
The dietary fiber is divided into two categories which are soluble and insoluble. They are both beneficiary to us and it’s essential to have them in our daily diet. Many plants are known to have a mixture of both the soluble and insoluble fiber.
According to the academy of nutrition and dietetics, people who are following a 2000 calorie diet should get the amount of fiber as follows:
- 38 g per day for adult males and 30 grams after age 50
- 25 grams per day for adult females and 21 grams after age 50
Types of Fiber
Soluble fiber: This soaks water like a sponge and it helps to bulk out our feces so it can easily pass through the gut. They also help to lower LDL which is the bad cholesterol levels. Another of its major roles is that it helps with constipation.
Some food sources where you can get soluble fiber include fruits and vegetables, legumes, etc.
Insoluble fiber: Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and it speeds up the time that food passes through the gut. One of its major roles is to add bulk to feces and to prevent constipation and some problems associated with it.
Examples of food sources include cellulose, wheat bran, etc.
What is a Low Fiber Diet?
As the name implies, a low fiber diet is a diet that restricts the consumption of foods that are high in fiber. The diet limits the amount of fiber intake a day. So, when planning meals, foods that are high in fiber should be restricted while on this diet.
Fiber is good for your health but there may be times when it may be difficult for your digestive system to process it. There may be some other reasons why you would be recommended to follow a low fiber diet. In some conditions, the doctor will have to recommend the diet to treat some digestive problems like Diverticulitis, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease.
It is so many times referred to as a low residue diet. The low residue diet is a low fiber diet that has some extra restrictions. The diet was designed mainly for the purpose of reducing the amount of stool in the large intestine.
This is not a long-term diet plan but just a temporary eating plan with the goal of resting the bowels.
Reasons to Take Up the Low-Fiber Diet.
A key factor that contributes to why you would be recommended to take a low-fiber diet is to give your digestive system a rest. This diet aims to;
- Reduce abdominal pains caused by gastrointestinal destress
- Aids to reduce the amount of food that is undigested moving everything along through your gut
- Assists to ease the bulk of work the digestive system is does
- It also reduces the amount of stool that is produced
A low-fiber diet is good for people managing digestive disorders. There may also be some other reasons the doctor would recommend you consider a low fiber diet such as;
- Irritable bowel syndrome IBS
- Crohn’s disease
- Bowel narrowing caused by a tumor
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Abdominal Cramps
- Irritation or damage in the digestive tract
- Recovery from gastrointestinal surgery, including colostomy and ileostomy
- Current radiation therapy or any other treatments which may affect the gastrointestinal tract such as antibiotics
When looking to reduce your fiber intake you will want to eat some of the foods listed below.
- Foods that are made with refined white flour, such as pancakes and bagels
- Canned Vegetables
- White pasta, White rice, and White bread
- Fresh vegetables but only in small amounts you should ensure they are well cooked
- Potatoes without skin
- Lean protein sources, such as chicken or fish
- Creamy peanut butter
- Low fiber fruits
- Fruit juices without pulp
- Canned fruits
- Honeydew melon
- Low fiber vegetables
- Pureed spinach
- Strained vegetable juice
- Cucumbers without the seeds or skin
- Lettuce and leafy greens
- Acorn squash without the seeds
- Asparagus tips
- String beans
Foods to Avoid Due to Fiber Content
- Whole-grain bread, cereals, pasta, including oatmeal, flax, and popcorn
- Wild or brown rice
- Potato skins
- Raw vegetables excluding lettuce, and cucumber
- Vegetables, even when cooked such as:
- Brussels sprouts
- Swiss chard
- Dried fruits
- Items that are fried or spicy
- Processed or tough meat
If you want to start introducing fiber to your diet, it’s best to start slowly to prevent discomfort and strain on your digestive system. It is recommended that you should increase your fiber intake by only 5g per week and you will want to do this gradually.
The low-fiber diet is not supposed to be a long-term plan so you should ask your doctor before and when you are trying new diets. It’s important to meet a dietitian so you can get meal plans and enlightenment for trying out a low-fiber diet. Do your best to keep your fluid intake high, this helps keep your digestion tract lubricated. Check food labels so you can keep 2 grams of fiber per serving.
Risks and Side Effects
Restricting your fiber intake comes along with several health benefits for you and your stressed gastro track. Fiber supplies volume within meals for little to no calories or fat. The more viscous the fiber is, the more it helps to reduce appetite and decrease calorie intake.
On the same note lack of fiber in a diet can cause problems in the digestive system and can lead to short and long-term health complications. It has been shown in studies, that the low fiber diet may raise the risk of colon cancer.
Fiber helps to regulate the digestive systems and to help move the food along the gastrointestinal tract. If you did not have much fiber in your diet, you can experience severe constipation which could cause pain and bloating. Low-fiber intake has been known to affect your blood sugar levels.
Eating foods that are rich in fiber can help slow your blood sugar response after a meal. If you follow a low-fiber diet too long, it can cause meals to have an immediate effect on the blood sugar level and can lead to complications concerning diabetes. The diet can also make it harder to control your weight. It can also affect your cholesterol negatively.
Fiber Helps to Lower Cholesterol levels.
Restricting the intake of fiber will lower the levels of HDL which is good cholesterol. Is important to have both soluble and insoluble fiber to your diet.
Fiber also helps to feed the friendly flora bacteria found in your gut. The normal gastrointestinal tract holds a high number of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. These little guys normally enjoy a symbiotic relationship with your body keeping you healthy. The helpful bacteria aid in a healthy digestion. They also are helpful in weight loss management, your immune system, and blood sugar levels.
Gut bacteria also has an impact on chronic inflammation. They produce nutrients to the body that requires to properly digest nutrients. Keeping your colon bacteria happy can lead to reducing gut inflammation and improvements in inflammatory disorders.
It’s known that acute or short-term inflammation has health benefits. This is due to it helping to fight foreign threats and repair damaged cells in the body.
Low-fiber diet can give your digestive system a break. As a reminder, long-term use of a low-fiber diet can cause major health issues impacting you negatively.
For getting the most out of your food, check out this post on Top 50 Nutritious Foods.