Our web site is dedicated to providing more information about food fiber and why it is needed. We also discuss the various health benefits of fiber. One question which can arise in the minds of people sometimes is can there be phenomenon “Too much fiber? If yes, can it be harmful?”. This article tries to answer the same question. This article was published in rediff.com and we are presenting this for our readers as it looks like a very informative article.
Intake of excessive fiber can lead to electrolytic imbalance, fatigue, excessive gas, inflammation of the intestinal tract indigestion and acid reflux.
Fiber is touted as a miraculous stuff that can do wonders not just with weight control but also with your overall health. Every food item — from biscuits, to cereals, even cooking oils — are using loud speakers to announce the high fiber content in their products. Then, of course, spooning in fiber must be the best thing you did to your body.
Nobody is talking of moderation or circumspection. But perhaps it may be the time to do just that, advises Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center.
She offers circumstances when too much of a good thing can be actually bad. And why, it is best to understand what you wish from your fiber-intake before you go rushing into self-prescribe.
After fasting or certain sickness
Fiber can be absolutely dangerous after any fasting, whether it be for religious/spiritual reasons or due to circumstances (as while travelling and missing meals) or forced due to some illness which does not allow you to retain food (as with vomiting/loose motions).
In this instance, fiber can tilt the electrolyte balance, send the food moving too fast through the digestive tract, and aggravate or compound existing symptoms.
In fact, in religious fasting or detoxification fasting it is wrong to consume fiber-rich foods. Only stuff like khichdi (white rice/moong dal with lots of ghee) is advised in this case.
Eating fruits or raw foods, or high-fiber grains would be foolhardy. Soft, well-cooked food, with easily-absorbable starch would be ideal to help the stomach recover.
In weight loss
Over-enthusiastic embrace of only-fiber food can be as bad as eating only protein-rich food.
In the former, due to the already reduced intake of starch, the food will move too fast through the digestive tract, and may lead to malabsorption states, where the nutrients are not given a chance to be absorbed.
This could lead to skin eruptions. But among the first symptoms of danger would be uncontrollable hair fall, indicating mal-absorption.
You are also likely to feel weak and more easily fatigue, again because the food is moving too fast to give the energy it is meant to. Certain amount of absorb able starch which helps to hold the food down till everything gets a chance to be digested, absorbed and excreted in its own proper time is very important.
Fiber by its very nature encourages wind in the tract. When the amount is suddenly increased or when other circumstances contribute to flatulence (as in high-stress states), then it would be advisable to go easy on the high-fiber foods.
It is best to introduce fiber foods gradually, so that your digestive system is acclimatized to it. A sudden high intake will have the inevitable result of make you gassy and uncomfortable. You may also get stomach cramps from this!
When the fiber content is over the advisable recommendation (according to certain health experts there seems to be a major confusion over how much is good or bad even today) there can be some side effects like excessive gas, inflammation of the intestinal tract, large stools that overload the delicate excretory canal and may lead to bleeding.
Cramps, gas, a feeling of nausea, or even vomiting could mean that your gut is not happy with too much fibre. Moderation or understanding the nature of your fiber and how well balanced it is, with the rest of your plate is very crucial to avoid this rather common problem.
Acid Reflux and Other Digestive Tract Problems
As stated earlier, when there is an overload of fiber in the stomach, it causes indigestion, which in turn can cause the chronic silent acid reflux, because the body is unaware of the upward swing of stomach acids through the esophageal passage.
It can cause sore throat, dry coughing, and inflammatory conditions which can be debilitating. A host of other problems of the digestive tract can be caused by wrongful consumption of excessive fiber: even constipation (when there is not enough fluids to propel the expanded volume of food), vomiting, hernia, several inflammatory conditions, aggravation of ulcers, hemorrhoids (especially in the elderly whose digestive tracts may be weaker), among various others.