20 to 40 grams of fiber daily are an essential part of a healthy diet. But if you're starting to eat more fiber, you may be experiencing some digestive distress. Though common, the symptoms of too much fiber in the diet shouldn't be brushed off as "regular" digestive woes.
Gradually increasing your fiber intake can help to reduce the gas and bloating that come with some high-fiber foods. And while eating fermented vegetables, made with the Veggie Culture Starter, could cause similar symptoms at first as the healthy microflora move in, these gut reactions should only be temporary. Inoculating the gut with living probiotics is part of the healing process.
Too Much Fiber? 2 Easy-to-Miss Warning Signs from Your Gut
Gas and bloating can be a common byproduct of upping your fiber intake.
Add fermented foods and drinks to the mix, and you might even say that your symptoms are worse, not better.
Making healthy changes takes time, and symptoms like gas and bloating could initially be part of your healing process. In fact, flatulence and bloating can be caused by too much or too little fiber.
If you are adding fermented foods and drinks like raw, cultured vegetables and Passion Fruit Biotic to your diet, you could also experience flatulence and bloating due to the action of healthy microflora battling the pathogenic microflora in your intestines. Of course, it always helps to have some guidance on why things might be happening. This is especially true when you experience gas pain and bloating. Keep in mind that while some gurgling in your stomach and intestines is normal, you don't have to be in pain.
How to Increase Your Fiber Intake, According to Body Ecology Principles
The Principle of Step-by-Step
Any time you begin something new (like eating more fiber-rich foods, trying fermented foods and drinks, or starting to exercise), it's very important to go slowly and make small changes over time.
The Principle of Step-by-Step encourages you to gradually increase your fiber intake over a period of time. If you currently get 10 to 15 grams of fiber per day, try to increase your daily intake by 2 or 3 grams and see how you feel. If you have no digestive distress, go ahead and add another 2 or 3 grams of fiber to your diet.
Before you know it, you'll be getting a full 20 to 40 grams per day with minimal gas and bloating.
The Principle of Balance
Remember, too, that your body will always seek balance. Honor your body's own wisdom and physical cues. It wants to heal and has the ability to do so, if you step out of its way and listen. Some days you might eat more fiber, and some days you might eat less.
Trust that your body will let you know what it needs for healing and nutrition.
The Principle of Uniqueness
Every person is unique and has different nutritional needs, regardless of established guidelines. You may find that you need more or less fiber than someone else, and that's OK. You are an "experiment of one," and you may need some time to find out what exactly works for you. Even more interesting, your body's needs may change over time.
If you want to introduce fiber and fermented foods and drinks at the same time, make sure you give your body time to adjust and take it step-by-step.
Keep in mind these principles, and you'll give your body the nourishment it needs to stay healthy and strong.
Ready, Aim — Fiber
So, you're ready to add fiber-rich foods (slowly) to your diet and want to do it without having digestive pain or bloating?
Here are some guidelines to get you started:
- Gradually build up your fiber intake.
- Increase your water intake as you increase fiber consumption.
- Exercise more to encourage peristaltic action in your colon. Yoga, walking, and rebounding all help your colon function.
- Try colon hydrotherapy to hydrate your colon and teach your colon how to contract again.
- Too much soluble fiber can cause flatulence. If you're eating a lot of nuts, flax seeds, and carrots, then you might experience excess gas.
- If you experience constipation, then try a magnesium supplement. Peter Gilliam's CALM or Magna Calm are two powders that can be taken by adults and children to help with optimum bowel function.
Other types of magnesium supplements that Body Ecology recommends are: Magnesium Chloride from the Pain and Stress Center in Texas and Magesium Asparate capsules from your health food store. Take 400-1600 mg per day to help you relax and to help your bowels move on a regular basis.
The Unsung Hero of Good Gut Health
Because of its "dirty job," fiber gets very little credit. It's easy to forget the big health and disease-fighting benefits of this plant substance. Fiber-rich foods help ease elimination and enhance detoxification and can protect you from cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.1,2,3 A high-fiber diet has also been linked to more successful aging, according a 2016 study out of Australia.4
You don't have to be afraid of getting too much fiber. The key is to begin adding fiber-rich foods to your diet as it works best for your body, in a way that is comfortable and nourishing. And as you build your gut health with daily fermented foods and drinks, your tolerance for fiber may increase. Beneficial bacteria create a healthy community in the gut that supports the whole digestive process, from start to finish. The latest research shows that eating a diet too low in fiber can have the opposite effect -- with the potential to irreversibly deplete gut bacteria and pass this gut deficiency on to future generations.5
Leonard Smith, M.D., is a renowned gastrointestinal, vascular, and general surgeon and an expert in the use of nutrition and natural supplementation. As a surgeon, Dr. Smith has first-hand experience of the problems associated with faulty digestion and the surgical necessities they can cause.
For the past 30 years, Dr. Smith has investigated many holistic medical programs, including nutrition, exercise, chelation, stress management, and the relevance of mental and spiritual attitudes in healing. Acknowledging the effectiveness of whole organic foods and nutritional supplementation, Dr. Smith strives to stay on the leading edge of research and breakthroughs in the field of functional nutrition. Dr. Smith is the featured Body Ecology Medical Advisor in The Body Ecology Guide to Growing Younger. Dr. Smith is the Medical Advisor for the University of Miami's Department of Integrative Medicine.
What To Remember Most About This Article:
Are you getting your 20 to 40 grams of fiber a day to maintain good health? As you start to up your fiber intake to meet this goal, you may notice several symptoms that arise. Gas and bloating are some of the most common signals sent from your gut, alerting you that you’re eating more fiber than your body can handle.
Introducing fermented foods and drinks like cultured vegetables and Passion Fruit Biotic may initially cause digestive discomfort, including gas and bloating, as your body adjusts and builds healthy communities of bacteria in the gut -- but these symptoms should only be temporary. Improving gut health can improve fiber digestion over the long-term.
- As you strengthen digestion slowly but surely, it helps to remember the Body Ecology Principle of Step-by-Step: Increase fiber intake gradually by a few grams a day to see how your digestive system can handle it.
- The Principle of Balance also says to honor your body’s own wisdom and natural cues; your body will let you know when it’s ready to digest more fiber.
- And according to the Principle of Uniqueness, we are all unique and have different nutritional needs, regardless of the official guidelines. Figure out what works for your unique gut and recognize that your body’s fiber needs may change over time.
- Maryam S. Farvid, A. Heather Eliassen, Eunyoung Cho, Xiaomei Liao, Wendy Y. Chen, and Walter C. Willett. Dietary Fiber Intake in Young Adults and Breast Cancer Risk. Pediatrics, 137(3):e20151226 DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-1226.
- D. E. Threapleton, D. C. Greenwood, C. E. L. Evans, C. L. Cleghorn, C. Nykjaer, C. Woodhead, J. E. Cade, C. P. Gale, V. J. Burley. Dietary fibre intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ, 2013; 347 (dec19 2): f6879 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.f6879.
- The InterAct Consortium. Dietary fibre and incidence of type 2 diabetes in eight European countries: the EPIC-InterAct Study and a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Diabetologia, May 2015 DOI: 10.1007/s00125-015-3585-9.
- Bamini Gopinath et al. Association Between Carbohydrate Nutrition and Successful Aging Over 10 Years. The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, May 2016 DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glw091.
- Erica D. Sonnenburg, Samuel A. Smits, Mikhail Tikhonov, Steven K. Higginbottom, Ned S. Wingreen, Justin L. Sonnenburg. Diet-induced extinctions in the gut microbiota compound over generations. Nature, 2016; 529 (7585): 212 DOI: 10.1038/nature16504.
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