Can High-Fiber Diets Cause Bloating?

February 18, 2021

The ongoing pandemic is a wake-up call for us to start taking a better care of our body. To keep our body in its top condition and avoid ourselves from any kind of diseases, we’ve been searching for info regarding workouts, food products, supplements, and even certain content in food ingredients as well as their characteristics and impacts.

One food ingredient content that has been talked about a lot recently is dietary fiber. The right amount of fiber consumption can give so many health benefits, including improved digestion, reduced cholesterol level, and increased absorption of minerals like calcium. A recent study even showed that high fiber diets can stop corona virus infection by preventing the “crown” of the virus (spike glycoprotein) from binding to the receptor CD26 that activates the corona virus (Haslberger et al., 2020).

That isn’t all. In the digestive tract, the indigestible fiber will become “food” for good bacteria living in it. The fiber will then be fermented by the bacteria and turned into short chain fatty acid (SCFA) that can be beneficial for the health. The SCFA includes acetic acid that lowers blood glucose levels, propionic acid that helps lower cholesterol, and butyric acid that prevents colon cancer.

Due to those benefits of fiber, the substance only present in plants has been made into various foods products which can be found easily in the market. Those products include supplement, drinks, and multi-purpose creamers like FiberCreme that gives creamy taste to foods and drink with measured amount of fiber in every serving size.

While it sounds trivial, consuming products with measured amount of fiber is important as it keeps you from consuming too much fiber.

Aside from the SCFA, the fermentation of fiber will also produce gasses like carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen (H2) and methane (CH4). In the colon, these gasses are normally absorbed by the blood and will be released from the body through our lungs as we breathe. But the gasses that stay inside the digestion can have negative effects like flatulence (passing gas), bad breath, and abdominal colic. These issues are similar to those caused by lactose intolerance, a condition in which the body lacks or has no lactase enzyme that breaks down lactose usually present in dairy milk. Lactose that can’t be broken down will produce gasses that lead to bloating and flatulence.

To avoid these issues, we’d better be cautious about our fiber intake. The normal recommendation of fiber consumption is between 21-30 grams per day, depending on each individual’s tolerance. If we have to increase the intake, we should do it gradually by adding about 10 grams of fiber per day until our digestion reaches its limit of tolerance, or until we get the amount per day that we need. Another way to keep us from consuming too much fiber is choose high-fiber products with the fiber content accurately measured and clearly stated in the packaging.

 

 

References:

Gonlachanvit, S., Coleksi R., Owyang, C & Hasler, WL., 2004. Inhibitory actions of high fibre diet on intestinal gas transit in healthy volunteers. Gut 53: 1577-1582.

Haslberger, G.A., Jacob, U., Hippe, B. & Karlic, H., 2020. Mechanism of selected functional foods against viral infections with a view on Covid-19: mini review. Functional Foods in Health and Disease, 5 (10): 195-209.

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