Fibre is an indigestible carbohydrate that is found in plant cell walls and contains no calories and no vitamins. There are two types of fibre; soluble and insoluble with both of these essential for good health. Soluble fibre travels through the body until it reaches the digestive tract where it then dissolves in water to form a sticky, gel like substance. This gel holds food in your digestive tract for longer which can help with blood sugar control and ensure that you get all the nutrients from your food. Insoluble fibre travels to the digestive tract where it then absorbs water and expands. This expanded mass then helps push waste products through your digestive tract which promotes regular bowel movements and is also thought to reduce your risk of bowel infections. Despite these numerous benefits getting too much fibre can have negative side effects. In this article I am going to be discussing four of the disadvantages of eating too much fibre.
1) CONSTIPATION:- One of the benefits of insoluble fibre is that it promotes regular bowel movements which in turn reduces constipation. However, both types of fibre require water to work effectively. Therefore, consuming a lot of fibre can cause the water in your digestive tract to dry up making your stools dry, hard and difficult to pass. This can then lead to constipation and difficulty excreting waste materials.
2) LOSS OF GOOD CHOLESTEROL:- One of the functions of soluble fibre is that it helps remove cholesterol from the blood. However, cholesterol is not all bad and research has suggested that high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol has a number of benefits including protecting the heart and brain. Soluble fibre removes this ‘good’ cholesterol along with the less beneficial low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Therefore, consuming too much soluble fibre can lead to low levels of HDL cholesterol in your blood.
3) POOR MINERAL ABSORPTION:- Another benefit of soluble fibre is that it holds food in the digestive tract for longer so that all the nutrients can be absorbed. However, eating too much fibre can actually have the opposite effect and prevent your body from absorbing a number of minerals including calcium, iron and zinc.
4) WIND:- As I discussed above both types of fibre interact with water. This process causes gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen to be produced. Therefore, eating too much fibre can cause high levels of these gases to be present in the digestive tract. This can then lead to you having a bloated stomach and passing wind regularly.
Although fibre has a number of health benefits you also need to be aware of these potential problems. Luckily most of the above side effects are only associated with excessive consumption. Most people do not get enough fibre in their diets as it is so increasing your consumption is unlikely to lead to problems unless you already eat a high fibre diet.