Mention fiber and the jokes about bran muffins and prunes sure start to fly, don’t they? For people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fiber isn’t always so humorous.
In a nutshell though, fiber is usually a good thing, even for IBS. That’s especially true when it’s balanced between the two main types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. In the right foods and in the right amounts, fiber is part of a healthy eating plan that can help bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
Things to keep in mind before you increase your fiber intake
For more success with getting enough fiber, try these tips:
- Up your fiber intake slowly
- Wash fiber down with lots of water
- Walk or work out regularly to support your digestive system
Eighteen solid IBS-friendly sources of fiber
It may take some experimentation, but you will eventually determine what high-fiber foods suit you best.
Eat more soluble fiber for both diarrhea and constipation
Foods that hold soluble fiber can help your digestive tract “put on the brakes” and let your body soak up extra water that might be contributing to diarrhea. It can also ease constipation. Soluble fiber isn’t only good for you — it’s great for the beneficial bacteria in your gut, too.
To get more of it, eat:
- Avocados: In small amounts, they pack in protein, plus healthy fats and vitamins your body needs. And who can say no to guacamole?
- Bananas: Bananas boost your energy and give you potassium. A banana almond smoothie with chia seeds could be a great way to start the day. (Just use the bananas before they turn completely ripe)
- Berries: Low FODMAP berries like blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, raspberries, and strawberries are great sources of fiber that are also rich in antioxidants. This microwave berry cobbler is a quick yet tasty treat
- Carrots: These cheerful veggies are anti-inflammatory, so they can reduce pain. They also hold plenty of carotenoids and vitamin A to support your eyesight. Low FODMAP seasoned carrots is a simple side dish you can make anytime
- Eggplant: Low-cal and mineral-packed, eggplant can be made many ways (as long as you don’t fry it!) Papoutsakia (baked eggplant) and baba ganoush are both delicious choices
- Quinoa: It’s full of protein, can help you lose weight, and can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It’s also easy to cook (as in this chicken quinoa summer salad)
- Oatmeal: It’s a daily fiber source that also helps prevent heart disease and high cholesterol. Try to eat it in servings up to ½ cup (peanut butter overnight oats, perhaps?)
Try insoluble fiber for constipation
Insoluble fiber bulks up stool and helps make bowel movements more regular. Foods that hold insoluble fiber include:
- Buckwheat: A great replacement for many whole grains, buckwheat is delicious. Buckwheat banana pancakes are a solid introduction to this versatile grain
- Grapes: They’re good for your brain health and your immune system as well as your gut. A handful of grapes is a nice snack, or you can slip them into salads like a chicken grape salad or a grape arugula one
- Green beans: They’re good for bone health and can be flavored different ways, like sesame green beans, for example
- Kale: A superfood high in calcium, kale can be enjoyed raw as kale salad, baked into snackable kale chips, folded into a main dish with kale quinoa patties, or incorporated into soups like kale potato sausage soup
- Nuts: They’re a dependable source of dietary fiber. You can pick from almonds, peanuts, or several other fiber-rich nuts (just skip cashews and pistachios); you can also incorporate 1 to 4 tablespoons of flaxseed into your day for an extra amount of fiber. Eat nuts together as a sweet and spicy nut mix or pick your favorite, like No-bake peanut butter brownie bites
- Pineapple: A refreshing, high-fiber fruit, pineapple also helps with digestion and inflammation control. You can drink a pineapple mint agua fresca, for example, or eat it in pineapple-topped snapper with BBQ corn
- Zucchini: It helps with blood sugar levels and can be made into noodles with walnut pesto or stuffed zucchini boats with black beans
Don’t forget about the foods packed with both kinds of fiber
Certain stand-out foods hold both soluble and insoluble fiber. Incorporate these whenever you can, as they can be some of your best sources for fiber. They include:
- Kiwis: They’re fun, fuzzy, and full of fiber (not to mention vitamin C). Eat them sliced in all their natural goodness, or blend them into a ginger kiwi smoothie
- Peanuts: In servings sizes of ⅛ cup, peanuts are great snacks, meal toppers, dessert mix-ins…they do it all, in other words. Enjoy Thai peanut noodles with turkey, or cross over to the sweet side with peanut butter rice krispy bars
- Potatoes: These versatile tubers hold many health benefits. Have them stuffed, baked, in hash browns, or even in a sweet potato quiche
- Soy fiber: Soy is another versatile source of fiber and protein. May we suggest a sweet chili tofu bowl with brown rice with a side of edamame?
A word about fiber supplements: they aren’t the worst thing you could try, but nutritionists and dietitians say to get fiber from natural foods as much as possible.
Get more support from Salvo Health
At Salvo Health, our digital healthcare platform and virtual clinic provides you with continuous text-based support and care for your chronic condition. Imagine being able to text a board-certified Physician or Behavioral Health Coach to avoid flare-ups or manage your pain. Alongside messaging-based communication, members receive a customized Care Plan that can take account of how their symptoms can be managed, no matter how much fiber you need.
Get immediate access to a coordinated Salvo Health care team, including a certified gastro specialist and board-certified health coach when you join Salvo Health today.