Can Too Much Fiber Cause Constipation?

Fiber Intake

Most people don’t consume enough fiber.  In fact, researchers found that most Americans eat less than half of the fiber they need to regulate their body’s systems.  Consuming enough fiber is vital to maintaining a healthy body that functions normally, but the growing trend is to eat less fiber.  The trend to eat fast food, quick service meals, and junk food accounts for lower intakes of fiber.

The Problem

Can Too Much Fiber Cause Constipation?

In an attempt to “make up” for a previous lack of fiber, some people start piling fiber into their diets.  Eating excessive amounts of foods high in fiber and taking fiber supplements, they pour an excessive amount of fiber into their system.  The body, reacting to sudden high increases in fiber, might react in ways that can surprise you.  It may lead to some very uncomfortable, possibly unforeseen problems.  It may leave you to ask:

“Can too much fiber cause constipation?”

Surprisingly, the simple answer is “yes”. Eating too much fiber can cause constipation. This seems counter intuitive, as fiber is recommended to alleviate constipation. Let’s take a closer look at all of the side effects of eating too much fiber.

Recommended Daily Fiber Intake

Doctors recommend that women consume approximately 25 grams of fiber every day.  For men, consuming approximately 30 grams is recommended.  Kids should eat about 20 grams of fiber per day.

Eating 40 grams or more of fiber per day is considered to be excessive, and may result in some very uncomfortable and unhealthy side effects.

Side Effects of Eating Too Much Fiber

Flatulence

Embarrassing and uncomfortable, flatulence is a side effect of eating too much fiber.  The higher your fiber intake, the more flatulence you will have.  Worse is that you may not be able to control it.  That might leave you in some embarrassing and regrettable situations.

Diarrhea

If your fiber intake is too high, you could get fiber diarrhea.  Anyone who’s had diarrhea knows that it’s a miserable state to be in, and one to be avoided at any cost.  When fiber passes through your system, it collects water.  This water collection is designed to help soften your stool.  When your stools become too loose, you have diarrhea.

Abdominal Discomfort

Abdominal discomfort isn’t as embarrassing as having untimely flatulence or diarrhea, but it is a miserable feeling.  Eating too much fiber disrupts the balance of your digestive system, and abdominal discomfort is a part of that disruption.

Constipation

It seems nonsensical that fiber and constipation can go together.  Fiber is used to loosen stools! This makes it no less true, however.  When high amounts of fiber invade the system, there isn’t enough water to help move the fiber.  The stools can become too bulky and too dense, causing very uncomfortable constipation.  Fiber constipation is hard to combat, considering the typical source of relief is now the problem!

Blockage

If your fiber-related constipation gets too severe, it turns into a blockage.  You do not want a blockage.  Blockages have to be treated by invasive medical interventions.

Bloating

Eating too much fiber can cause you to bloat, further complicating your upset stomach and any other symptoms you’re facing.

Intestinal Cramping

As your body tries to deal with the excessive amount of fiber you have overloaded it with, you can experience some pretty serious intestinal cramping.  This happens as your body tries to move that fiber, typically fiber that is bulked tightly together, through the intestines.

Temporary Weight Gain

Because fiber has the ability to absorb things around it, too much fiber in your system can lead to absorption and blockage of waste that would typically be eliminated.  This can result in temporary weight gain.

The Solution

The solution is simple.  Monitor your fiber intake.  If you start experiencing some of the symptoms listed above and you have no other explanation for the symptoms (such as illness), cut back on your fiber intake.  You will soon get relief from your symptoms.

Also, it is important to note that whenever consuming fiber, you should drink plenty of water.  Because fiber absorbs water, you need to drink enough so that the fiber can absorb water and that the rest of your body will still get the water it needs.

So, can too much fiber cause constipation?  Absolutely!  But the good news is that you can avoid fiber constipation and the other symptoms of too much fiber easily.