Consuming fiber is beneficial because it helps add bulk to your diet. The increased bulk aids your digestion and helps prevent constipation. It also helps you feel fuller faster, which can help keep your weight under control. In some cases, however, eating fiber can cause gas and even bloating -- a tight, full sensation in your abdomen. Making some simple adjustments to your diet, or taking a supplement to help reduce gas, can usually get rid of the bloating. If making adjustments doesn't help, consult a doctor to rule out a digestive problem.
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Gas is a normal part of the digestive process and typically results from bacteria breaking down food in the large intestine. Some foods, however, are harder to digest and can lead to larger than normal amounts of gas in the intestinal tract. The increased levels of gas can cause bloating, as well as other symptoms such as belching, abdominal cramping and flatulence. Fiber, along with foods that contain hard to digest sugars -- such as raffinose -- are a common cause of gas, although not everyone will experience symptoms.
Two types of fiber exist: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and is found in wheat bran, vegetables and whole grains.. This type of fiber usually produces little gas, according to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Soluble fiber does attract water and creates a soft gel as it is digested, thereby slowing down digestion. It is found in foods such as oat bran, beans, peas and the majority of fruits. This type of fiber is a more common cause of gas and bloating. Some people will have gas and bloating whenever they consume fiber, but in some cases gas and bloating is simply caused by adding too much fiber to your diet too quickly.
Gradually increasing the amount of fiber in your diet, instead of adding it all at once, can help reduce the levels of gas, possibly avoiding bloating. For example, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends that older children, adolescents and adults consume between 20 and 35 grams per day of fiber, and adding 3 grams to 5 grams a day for several weeks until that point is reached may be beneficial. Drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water, and peeling fruits and vegetables as you start to consume more fiber can also help ease the transition for your digestive system. If you continue to suffer from mild bloating after consuming fiber, taking a digestive supplement that helps reduce gas may also prevent bloating.
If gradually increasing your fiber consumption or taking a digestive supplement do not help get rid of bloating, it may be due to a food intolerance or digestive disorder. Your digestive process may have a hard time processing fiber, which can lead to gas, bloating and cramping. Taking a supplement doesn't always help a food intolerance. A digestive disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome, may be exacerbated by consuming fiber. Less commonly, a food allergy may be to blame. If bloating doesn't gradually go away after taking preventive measures, or symptoms are severe, consult a health care professional.