Tuesday, October 3, 2023

How dietary fiber helps in diarrhea

Soluble fiber can help in controlling diarrhea by absorbing excess water in the intestines.

Executive Summary Video

Everyone knows that fiber is useful for relieving constipation. It helps soften and bulk up the stools. It also increases the movement of food through the intestinal passage, helping in constipation.

Since diarrhea is the opposite kind of problem, people think of avoiding fiber when they get diarrhea. However, fiber works by absorbing water in the intestines. In diarrhea, there is ample liquid in the gut. By absorbing this excess fluid, fiber helps in solidifying stools and reducing diarrhea.

My Views

  1. Fiber is of two types: water-soluble and water-insoluble. They behave exactly as their names suggest.
  2. In constipation, both types of fibers are useful. Soluble fiber bulks up the stools. insoluble fiber increases the transit time of food in the intestines.
  3. In diarrhea, mainly the soluble fiber is useful because you want the fiber to absorb excess water in the gut. Insoluble fiber does not have much role in diarrhea.
  4. Good dietary sources of soluble fiber are apples, bananas, oats, and beans.
  5. Good dietary sources of insoluble fiber are whole grains, wheat bran, legumes, and many vegetables.
  6. Below the age of 50 years, men and women should have 38 and 25 grams a day, respectively.
  7. Above the age of 50 years, men and women should ahve 30 and 21 grams a day, respectively.
  8. Most men and women typically have 15 grams of fiber a day. Since fiber has many other benefits, one is advised to increase dietary fiber intake.
  9. Since fiber involves roughage, which needs more chewing, many people eschew (pun unintended) eating high-fiber foods.
  10. Modern lifestyle is all about convenience. So high-fiber foods are usually processed to reduce their fiber content and make them palatable.
  11. It is difficult to get high amount of fiber on a daily basis consistently. So it is a good idea to add a dietary fiber supplement.
  12. Best dietary fiber supplements contain inulin, resistant maltodextrin, and psyllium. Note that resistant maltodextrin is a fiber, which is different from maltodextrin, which is a digestible carbohydrate.

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First published on: 23rd December 2021
Image credit: Sora Shimazaki on Pexels


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