The Best Types of Fiber for People With IBD

What Is Fiber and Why Do People With IBD Often Avoid It?

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest, naturally found in fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. It passes through our GI tract mostly intact, and plays a number of key roles in maintaining overall health.

On average, those with IBD consume less fiber than those without IBD, according to research published in the April 2021 Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In fact, less than a quarter of those with IBD are estimated to meet national fiber recommendations per the aforementioned research, and understandably so. Historically, low-fiber diets were widely recommended to those with IBD to limit mechanical irritation to the gut lining, per a paper published in the Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology in May 2019. But according to the paper, these recommendations were not based on actual scientific evidence. Instead, they were based on anecdotal reports of patients who felt better after removing fibrous foods from their diets.

Why Fiber Is Important for Those With IBD

While fibrous foods like fresh fruits and vegetables may sound like a bad idea when your GI tract is inflamed, some fiber types found in certain plant foods are gentle on the gut and unlikely to worsen irritation. In fact, higher fiber intakes are actually associated with reduced IBD inflammation and higher remission rates, according to research published in June 2022 in the journal Biomedicines. Additionally, those with IBD have a higher risk of colorectal cancer than the general population, and high fiber intake is thought to be preventive against colorectal cancer, per the Biomedicines research.


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