Digestion Relief for Symptoms of Too Much Fiber

Fiber is the part of plant foods that the body can’t fully digest or absorb. Instead, it helps move food through your digestive system. On average, most Americans only consume around 16 grams of fiber per day, which is about 10 grams less than the minimum recommended intake for most people. 

While not common, it’s possible to eat too much fiber, especially for people who eat plant-based diets such as vegetarian, vegan, or raw foods diets. You can also experience discomfort from eating too much fiber if you eat a lot more in a day than you normally do.

Keep reading to learn more about the signs, effects, and treatment for too much fiber. Plus, learn how fiber affects digestion and which foods are high in fiber.

Close-up crop of woman holding a bowl containing homemade granola or muesli with oat flakes, corn flakes, dried fruits with fresh berries

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Signs of Too Much Fiber

If you’ve had too much fiber or increased your fiber intake too quickly, you may notice some uncomfortable side effects like:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Feeling too full
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Upset stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Dehydration

In rare cases, bowel obstruction or blockage may occur.

Contact your healthcare provider or seek medical attention right away if you’re experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Inability to pass gas or bowel movements
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Extreme bloating
  • Severe abdominal pain

Effects of Too Much Fiber on Digestion

There are two primary types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Each type has slightly different effects in addition to the similar ones they have on digestion, such as:

  • Soluble fiber: This type of fiber can mix with and “dissolve” in water to form a gel-like texture. Soluble fiber binds to other compounds and nutrients. This type is associated with lowering LDL cholesterol levels, regulating blood sugar, improving bowel movements, aiding weight management, and other health benefits.
  • Insoluble fiber: This type of fiber doesn’t “dissolve” in water and instead serves to bulk and increase stool size. Insoluble fiber may help reduce the risk of diabetes, improve bowel movements, reduce colon cancer risk, and other benefits.

The main way fiber affects digestion is to slow down digestion and add bulk to stool. Think of it like a workout for your digestive system. Fiber holds onto water and prevents some from being absorbed by the intestines. This increases the size of the stool and requires the muscles in your intestines to push the stool through.

Health Benefits of Fiber

Health benefits of fiber include:

  • Improves colon (large intestine) health
  • Reduces the risk of colon cancer
  • Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Aids weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Relieves constipation and diarrhea
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes and aids in the management of blood sugar levels
  • Promotes healthy gut flora (the microbes that normally inhabit the digestive system and aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients)


Despite the many health benefits of fiber, you can still have too much of a good thing. 

Think of quickly increasing your fiber intake like going from lifting a 5-pound dumbbell to a 50-pound dumbbell. If all your muscles have been trained for is 5 pounds, then it will be difficult to lift 50 pounds because it’s too quick of an increase. 

The same happens with fiber. If you drastically increase fiber, your digestive system isn’t ready for it, and you end up with symptoms of too much fiber like bloating, gas, and constipation. 

The right amount of fiber for you may be different than other people. Some research suggests increasing fiber intake helps to relieve constipation in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Still, another study found that decreasing fiber helped increase bowel movements. 

If you have questions about how much fiber is right for you, contact your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for advice. 

Daily Fiber Recommendations

In general, the adequate intake of fiber is 14 grams for every 1,000 calories consumed daily. However, the exact recommendation may vary based on age, sex, and your medical history.

Here is The Institute of Medicine’s recommendation for daily fiber intake:

Children

Recommendations are:

  • Age 0-3: 19 grams of fiber daily
  • Age 4-8: 25 grams of fiber daily

Women

Recommendations are:

  • Age 9-13: 26 grams of fiber daily
  • Age 14-18: 26 grams of fiber daily
  • Age 19-50: 25 grams of fiber daily
  • Age 50+: 21 grams of fiber daily

Men

Recommendations are:

  • Age 9-13: 31 grams of fiber daily
  • Age 14-18: 38 grams of fiber daily
  • Age 19-50: 38 grams of fiber daily
  • Age 50+: 30 grams of fiber daily

The right amount of fiber for you may be higher or lower than these amounts based on your genetics and medical history. 

There is no maximum recommendation for the amount of fiber that is too much. Still, some information suggests more than 70 grams of fiber per day increases the risk for side effects.

High Fiber Foods

While you can consume fiber both in nutrition supplements and food, it’s usually best to try to meet your nutrition needs through whole foods (that are either not processed at all or are only minimally processed).

Most high-fiber foods contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Still, some may be slightly higher in one type than the other. 

Soluble Fiber Foods

Food high in soluble fiber include:

  • Oats and oatmeal
  • Beans and legumes
  • Apples
  • Citrus fruits
  • Barley
  • Peas
  • Bananas
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Nuts
  • Seeds, such as flaxseed

Insoluble Fiber Foods

Foods high in insoluble fiber include:

  • Wheat and wheat bran
  • Beans and legumes
  • Green beans
  • Dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, etc
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Radish
  • Potatoes
  • Fruit skins, like the peel of an apple
  • Whole grains

Excessive Fiber Relief

If you ate too much fiber and are experiencing uncomfortable side effects, consider the following tips to help relieve your discomfort:

  • Drink water.
  • Avoid high fiber foods.
  • Stop taking any fiber supplements.
  • Limit fiber-fortified foods.
  • Take a walk; light physical activity may help stimulate bowel activity.
  • Consider a food diary.

Your symptoms may go away later that day or after a couple of days, depending on how much fiber you ate. When the symptoms of too much fiber go away, try to avoid a large increase in fiber. 

Instead, try these tips to prevent the symptoms of too much fiber:

  • Slowly increase your fiber intake by 1 to 2 grams per day
  • Space fiber-rich foods throughout all meals
  • Aim for a consistent amount of fiber daily
  • Drink more water
  • Eat a balance of soluble and insoluble fiber
  • Exercise daily

Summary

Fiber is an essential part of the diet, but it can be tricky to find the right balance for the amount of fiber best for you. If you eat too much fiber, you may experience symptoms like bloating, gas, constipation, abdominal discomfort, and pain.

General fiber recommendations fall around 25-30 grams of fiber daily for most people. If you have too much fiber, you may be able to help relieve symptoms by drinking more water, avoiding fiber foods, and going for a walk.

A Word From Verywell

It’s more common for most Americans to have too little fiber in their diet than too much. Still, it is possible to eat too much fiber if you eat a plant-based diet or suddenly eat more fiber.

Try to get your fiber from whole foods. Consider only taking a supplement if you’re having trouble getting enough fiber through your diet or if recommended by a healthcare professional.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it dangerous to eat too much fiber?

    Eating too much fiber can lead to symptoms such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and constipation. In rare cases, people could experience a bowel obstruction or blockage.

  • What does your poop look like if you eat too much fiber?

    Insoluble fiber causes poop to bulk up in size and likely lead to larger poops. Soluble fiber mixes with water to create a gel-like texture that may pass more easily.

  • How do you keep track of your daily fiber intake?

    You can keep track of your daily fiber intake by logging your foods into a written or virtual food diary. Many apps and websites track the amount of fiber in foods.

  • Should people with IBS eat more or less fiber?

    Fiber may affect people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) differently. Research suggests some people will benefit from a high fiber diet, while others may benefit from a lower fiber diet.

    The best way to figure out the optimal fiber intake for you is to slowly increase or decrease your fiber and track your symptoms.

  • Do fiber supplements have too much fiber?

    It’s best not to overdo it with fiber supplements. Follow the directions for dose and monitor the amount of fiber in the foods you eat. Aim for around 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily from the food and fiber supplements.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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