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Why Is a High Fiber Diet Prohibited Before a Colonoscopy?

author image Julie Hampton
Julie Hampton has worked as a professional freelance writer since 1999 for various newspapers and websites including "The Florida Sun" and "Pensacola News Journal." She served in the U.S. Army as a combat medic and nurse for over six years and recently worked as the Community Relations Director for a health center. Hampton studied journalism and communications at the University of West Florida.
Why Is a High Fiber Diet Prohibited Before a Colonoscopy?
Fresh bran muffins. Photo Credit: Wiktory/iStock/Getty Images

The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse describes a colonoscopy as an exam to view inside the colon and rectum. The exam takes little less than an hour, however you often need several days to prepare your intestinal tract. You prepare for the procedure by eating a low-fiber diet and clear liquids, according to Virginia Mason Bellevue. Ensure that you strictly follow your doctor’s dietary instructions; eating the incorrect foods may prevent an efficient exam.

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Fiber is not digested by the body and is found in food such as whole wheat, brown rice, fruits and vegetables. Fiber increases bulk in your stool and contains high amounts of digestive residue. When you get a colonscopy, your digestive tract must be clear of fluids and residue often caused by fiber.


A colonoscopy provides a complete visual image of the inside of your large bowels. If residue from fiber is found in your digestive tract, the camera located on the end of the scope will not transfer a clear image. This may cause the procedure to be repeated.

Suggested Diets

Diets before a colonoscopy vary by health care provider. Some suggest a low-fiber diet for about three days, followed by a day of clear liquids before the colonoscopy. Other health professionals may recommend a strict clear liquid diet and completely eliminating solid foods for a few days before your exam. Discuss the diet your doctor recommends if you have any questions.

Low-Fiber Diet

Low-fiber foods before a colonoscopy include steamed vegetables without seeds and canned fruit, according to Virginia Mason. The website suggests plain white bread, crackers and rolls. Avoid eating brown rice or wheat pasta. Include soft meat during meal times such as fish or chicken, instead of red meats.

Clear Liquid Diet

The day before your procedure most medical professionals instruct you to follow a clear liquid diet. The diet helps ensure your bowels are completely clear. All transparent liquids are OK to drink during this time, except those with purple or red food coloring. The coloring may be confused with internal bleeding during the procedure. Enjoy gelatin in both solid and liquid states. Additional beverages are ginger ale, lime soda, clear sports beverages and water. To ease a dry throat, hard candy and throat lozenges are allowed when on a clear liquid diet. Do not drink any type of dairy, including cream in your coffee or tea. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, a clear liquid diet may provide up to 1,000 calories a day. The calories are necessary to boost your energy levels and keep electrolytes and sodium in balance.

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