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Insoluble or soluble fibers?


Ben Klesc
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Hello all. I've been reading some conflicting reports on what you can do to help mitigate IBS through diet. I want to start increasing the fiber in my diet, but it seems like any amount of fiber and even a little bit immediately gives massive bloating and makes me sick. So I was reading there are two different kinds of fiber.

In San Francisco Gate Magazine they write that insoluble fiber should be avoided. 

https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/can-people-fiber-intolerant-12100.html

"If you tend to have a sensitive gut, you may be less tolerant of insoluble fiber, contends licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of integrative medicine Chris Kresser. Insoluble fiber scrubs your colon and adds bulk to your stool, which helps decrease instances of constipation. If your insides are irritated, though, this scrubbing action can aggravate symptoms such as gas, cramping and diarrhea. Kresser lists vegetables such as bell peppers, green beans, leafy greens, peas, onions, celery, broccoli and cauliflower as being among the offenders. Stick to vegetables that are higher in soluble fiber, which may not be as irritating. These include carrots, winter squash, yellow summer squash, beets and sweet potatoes."

However Livestrong posted an article suggesting the exact opposite.

https://www.livestrong.com/article/422517-why-does-fiber-make-me-sick/

"Not all types of fiber have the same effect on your digestive tract. Insoluble fiber, which can be found in wheat bran and some vegetables, passes through your digestive tract essentially unchanged. Because the bacteria in your colon do not significantly break down this kind of fiber, it produces little gas. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, swells to form a gel in your digestive tract and is usually responsible for intestinal gas, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders notes."

I can say for certain that the fiber that is making me absolutely sick when I eat it are insolubles. I cannot have beans, nuts, chickpeas, avocados, artichokes without getting sick. I never had a problem with veggies and fruits like peppers, onions, celery, broccoli, berries. Oddly enough bananas don't bother me even though they are high in soluble.

Which fibers should you be avoiding to reduce IBS symptoms? My goal is to slowly increase fiber intake back into my diet.


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Jeffrey Roberts

Hi Ben,

I can't tell you specifically what fibers you should avoid to reduce IBS symptoms because it is really different in everyone.

The low FODMAP diet addresses foods which might contribute to IBS symptoms. It's the best approach right now to try and reduce symptoms from all types of foods. It addresses the types of fiber that might need to be avoided.

https://www.ibspatient.org/treatment/ibsdiet/

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, everyone is so different with foods. I have a tricky time with fibre. Sometimes I am fine on it (both kinds, insoluble and soluble) I have IBS D but have periods of absolutely normal gut and bm's!

When I am normal, I can eat most things but still tend to be a bit careful.
Beets always make me "go". Carrots, tomatoes and apples likewise. Even though carrots and tomatoes are on the LOW fodmap list! (are beets? Maybe)

I ate a small portion of garden peas about 6 days ago and was fine. So I had a few with mixed veg also the next day....and was fine! Four evenings I ate them and was fine.
So last night I had a few more with my dinner, thinking "hey maybe I can eat peas again" Not even a large portion, only about 2 tablespoons.

Today all hell is let loose and I'm having a huge flare and can't get away from the bathroom. I should know. That has happened before with peas.

I know what it is that gets my gut. Not the actual pea, but the little shell that surrounds the pea. I can't handle that fibre. It has to be insoluble fibre and I know I daren't eat very much of the insoluble kind. I sometimes skin them, but that is such a long winded task

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