Ask Alina: Why Does Added Fibre Make Me Bloated?

Question: Hi Alina!ask-alina I have a two part question about added fiber.

Chicory root extract/inulin has been creeping into more and more “healthy” snacks, but I have found it causes me some pretty severe GI distress. It is even in yogurt these days! I keep a close eye out for it and avoid it whenever possible, but I am concerned it might be going by other names.

So the first part of my question is: 1) are all dietary fibers the same, meaning they will all cause me the same distress, or are some easier to tolerate? And 2) can I build up my tolerance to chicory root/inulin with a supplement for instance, or by being more diligent about taking my probiotics?

Thanks for the great work that you do!
Breckie

Answer: You’re not alone with if inulin or acacia don’t sit well with you!

First of all, there are three main types of fibre: insoluble, soluble, and resistant starch. Inulin and acaia fall under the soluble fibre category, which are soluble in water and hence create a gelatinous texture (think, chia pudding texture). For most people, soluble fibre is great for improving gut health and reducing constipation.

However, for some people soluble fibre is pretty troublesome i.e. gas, bloating, diarrhea. This is because most foods high in soluble fibre also also high FODMAP foods (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols).

Fod-whaaa?

Without getting too heavy on the science, FODMAP foods are poorly digested carbohydrates that ferment once they reach the large intestine and can cause issues for some people.

High FODMAP foods include:

  • Fructose (some fruits like apples, and gassy vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, onions)
  • Lactose (dairy)
  • Fructans (wheat, barley, rye)
  • Galactans (legumes)
  • Sugar alcohols (found in sweeteners such as xylitol, sorbitol, erythritol).

When it comes to added fibre, try to avoid the following high FODMAP options:

  • Acacia
  • Carageenan
  • Gellan gum
  • Guar gum
  • Inulin
  • Locust bean gum
  • Pectin
  • Xanthan gum

The best way to avoid these added fibres is eating real, whole foods and getting all of your fibre from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. If you are interested in a fibre supplement or powder, try psyllium husk which is an insoluble fibre and won’t cause the same issues.

In response to the second part of your question, if you want to build up a tolerance or get lasting relief, you will have to speak to a practitioner to figure out why you are sensitive to soluble fibre or FODMAP foods in the first place. There are multiple reasons such as IBS, SIBO, and fructose malabsorption…it’s not the same for everyone. Once you figure out the root cause, you will be able to address the problem head on!

For now, just avoid the sources of fibre listed above and eat more real, whole foods 🙂

 

About Alina

I'm a Holistic Nutritionist based in Toronto, Canada and my official title is Certified Nutritional Practitioner (CNP). I received my diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. I'm a coach and an educator. Follow Alina on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for all of the latest updates.
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