Fiber for IBS-D?

People who are constipated turn to fiber to get things moving. So why would anyone recommend fiber as a way to ease diarrhea-predominant IBS? Well, because not all fibers are the same.

Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet and most Americans don’t get enough. That is a shame because not only does fiber help you have regular bowel movements, it regulates blood sugar and lowers cholesterol levels. Adding fiber to your diet is also a great way to manage your weight because its bulk creates a feeling of fullness, keeping you satisfied so that you can eat less.

You might know all of the benefits of fiber already, but if you suffer with IBS-D, you are very likely wary of adding fiber to your diet. Getting things moving is definitely not your problem, but here’s what you might not know. There are two different types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Most fiber-rich foods contain some combination of both. An apple, for example, has a soluble fiber inside covered by an insoluble fiber outer skin. The trick to adding fiber to an IBS-D diet is to focus on foods with primarily soluble fiber.

Insoluble fiber moves through your system relatively intact. By doing this, it sweeps waste out of the digestive tract. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, soaks up water as it passes through your system. As it does this, it becomes kind of a soft gel, like when you add water to dry oatmeal. If you have diarrhea, your stool moves too rapidly through your digestive system for the water to be effectively absorbed. By soaking up water and expanding, soluble fiber helps both solidify and slow down the stool.

If you decide to try adding soluble fiber to your diet, you should remember a few things.

  1. Stick with soluble fiber foods that are on the low-FODMAP diet. These include bananas, cooked carrots, lentils, oatmeal, sweet and white potatoes and sunflower seeds.
  2. Adding ground flax seeds or chia seeds to foods is a good way to add soluble fiber without changing the taste of your food.
  3. Start out slow. Adding too much fiber all at once may cause gas and bloating. Begin by adding small amounts of soluble fiber foods and gradually increase your servings over time.
  4. Everyone with IBS is unique in terms of what foods they can tolerate. Stay clear of any soluble fiber foods that trigger your IBS-D.
  5. Take IBS/W every morning. Although eating soluble fiber will help alleviate your diarrhea, IBS symptoms will still occasionally flare up. IBS/W is specifically designed to ease the pain and discomfort of women’s IBS symptoms.

Hopefully, you will find that adding soluble fiber to your diet is the key to easing your IBS-D symptoms. In addition, you may even lower your cholesterol and lose some weight. Tonight before bed, plug in your crock pot and wake up to a healthy bowl of oatmeal. Your gut will thank you.

Overnight Oatmeal (serves 2)

1 cup steel cut oatmeal
4 cups water
1 tablespoon butter

Put all ingredients in a 2-quart crock pot on the low setting. In the morning, about 8 hours later, stir, top with berries and enjoy.