Can You Consume Too Much Fiber? Symptoms of Excess Fiber

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Posted on: September 27, 2015

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Too much fiber - Dr. Axe

Let’s be honest, most of us are probably not getting a sufficient amount of fiber in our diets each day, but did you know it’s actually possible to eat too much fiber?

Don’t freak out quite yet. The consequences of consuming too much fiber are not nearly as serious those that can result from a low-fiber diet. Actually, how much fiber per day you need is actually a fluid figure and depends greatly on how much you’ve already been getting.

So, how does one have too much fiber? How do you know if it’s a bad thing? Let’s take a look at when a high-fiber diet may actually lead to too much fiber in your diet.


How Much Fiber Per Day Should You Get?

High amounts of fiber in the diet are associated with a lower risk of arteriosclerosis (a form of heart disease), diabetes and general degenerative disease. (1, 2, 3) On average, Americans consume about 15 grams of fiber per day, which is… not enough. (4) In fact, it’s closer to about half of what most people need.

According to the Institute of Medicine and the American Heart Association, the amount of fiber people need each day is: (5, 6)

  • 19 grams for children 1–3 years old
  • 25 grams for children 4–8 years old
  • 26 grams for girls 9–18 years old
  • 31 grams for boys 9–13 years old
  • 38 grams for males between 14–50
  • 25 grams for females between 19–50
  • 21 grams for men over 50
  • 30 grams for women over 50

Other sources suggest that the best way to maintain optimal fiber is to eat 14 grams for every 1,000 calories you eat each day. (7) On a standard 2,000-calorie diet, that lands at 28 grams, somewhere between the optimal intake numbers for men and women listed above.

Does it really matter how much fiber per day you get, though? Of course the answer is “yes.” It’s not just a big deal for you — it matters for your children, as well.

Research released in 2016 found that, after a certain amount of time, poor dietary fiber intake can affect the gut microbiome more permanently and even pass along a “less diverse” colony of healthy gut bacteria to your offspring. (8) This is an example of how epigenetics is affected by diet and lifestyle.

The issue for most people is that it can be a challenge to keep up with that required fiber on a Standard American Diet due to the habit we sometimes have of avoiding high-fiber foods like leafy greens, fruits and legumes.


How Much Is Too Much Fiber?

You may be asking, “Josh, if people aren’t getting enough, why are you telling me I can have too much fiber?” Simple: Because the side effects associated with eating too much fiber are often found in those trying to up their intake too fast because they realize the importance of a high-fiber diet.

There is evidence that suggests a high end of fiber intake can cause symptoms — namely that people will probably begin noticing ongoing problems when they eat more than 45–70 grams of fiber consistently each day. (9, 10) That would be a challenge for most people, though.

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