It’s been drilled into your mind by doctors, your mom and cereal ads: Fibre is good for you! They’re not wrong, either: Fibre helps you feel satisfied after eating, while also making sure that burger you ate actually gets digested properly.
So… the more fibre the better, right? Girl, no. There is definitely such a thing as eating too much fibre in one day, and once you overdo it, you’ll never want to let that happen again. Trust me.
What is fibre, again?
Dietary fibre (or “roughage,” as your grandma might say) is a type of carbohydrate that’s found in plant foods like whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. After you eat it, it mostly passes straight through your digestive system, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“Dietary fibre is important in our diets because not only does it help regulate our bowel habits and improve our overall gut health, it also has other systemic benefits such as improving blood sugar control, contributing to heart health by improving cholesterol and blood pressure, and helping with weight loss and management,” says gastroenterologist Dr Tara Menon. Aim for 25 grams a day!
What are the signs you’ve eaten too much?
If you hit your sweet spot (which is around 25 grams a day for women), your digestive system should be working pretty well. But if you happen to have too much, you’re probably going to know it. Menon says the signs you’ve had too much fibre include:
- Stomach pain or cramping
- Gastroesophageal reflux
Cute! Basically, eating too much fibre means you’re going to be spending a lot more time on the toilet.
What can you do if you’ve gone overboard on fibre?
Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill that will absorb all that excess and make it disappear out of your body. But you can treat the symptoms. If gas is your issue, taking an OTC gas-fighting pill that contains simethicone can help, Menon says. Diarrhoea should pass, but if that’s gotten out of hand, you can also consider taking an anti-diarrhoeal medication to stop things up.
Are some diets more prone to excess fibre?
Given that plant-based foods are great sources of fibre, vegans and vegetarians are probably eating more than the average carnivore, Menon says. But many people don’t actually eat enough fibre.
If you feel like your symptoms are probably caused by having too much fibre, Menon recommends stepping down your intake until you feel better. “Once your symptoms have improved, see if you can pinpoint any specific food that may have triggered your symptoms,” she says. Then, slow your roll on those foods in the future.
How can you make sure you’re eating a healthy amount?
You want to aim to get 25 grams a day (try tracking your intake for a few days if you’re not sure where you stand). If you’re below that and you want to add more, Menon says it’s best to slowly add more to your daily routine to work your way up to your goal.
If you’re pretty sure you’re not eating too much, but are still experiencing some of the symptoms of a fibre OD, talk to your doctor to find out what’s going on.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthsa.co.za
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