Monitoring Fiber Intake and Digestive Health

If you’re experiencing poor digestive symptoms consistently. There are a few things you should do and consider.

If the issue is severe, go straight to a dietitian or doctor. You may have IBD (irritable bowel disease), in which case the only people who can and should help, are the aforementioned.

If the symptoms are milder and representative of low-level IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and you’re after professional advice, a nutritionist can help.

Do not look to Instagram, an unqualified personal trainer, or a ‘wellness guru’ for help with this, regardless of what they claim their area of expertise is.

Outside of the above, a nutritionist can help, but may often refer out straight away. The first port of call is to work out how much fiber you’re actually consuming on a consistent basis. This certainly isn’t the obvious solution for most, but it’s without a doubt the first factor to asses and cross off the list before you look elsewhere. Often simply aligning actual fiber intakes with the recommendations provides relief.

The most practical way to determine your fiber intake is to track your via an app like My Fitness Pal for a week or two, and note your levels of digestive distress throughout the tracking period.

Apart from the standard potential reasons for inaccurate reporting in My Fitness Pal. There are two fiber related factors to be aware of, in order to ensure the data you obtain is even ball-park correct.

1. Ensure the data entries are accurate.
My Fitness Pal is plagued with inaccurate data that can result in misreporting of intake. This will give false data, which for obvious reasons makes things difficult. Check bar code scans match the nutrition panels on product packaging and use NUTTAB sourced entries when you search for particular foods. If there is no NUTUAB sourced data for food you wish to enter. You can enter it yourself but going to the NUTTAB database and entering it into MFP yourself.
http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/science/monitoringnutrients/afcd/Pages/default.aspx

2. Ensure the data entries contain fiber. When a portion of food is entered into My Fitness Pal, not all the data needs to be entered. Often fiber is left out, which will throw off the accuracy of your tracking. Make sure what you’re entering has the amounts of fiber reported. Again, look to the NUTUAB database to confirm accuracy and/or enter if a relevant accurate entry isn’t present.

Once you have a good idea of what your fiber intake is. You can compare it to how your symptoms of gastric distress fluctuated, as well as the current fiber recommendations. Which are…

15-18g per 1000 Calories per day. With 80% of that being obtained through plant fiber based on the current ISSN position stand.

This means for someone consuming 2500 Calories a day, the ideal daily fiber target is 37.5-45g. Keep in mind this does have some individual variations based on tolerance.

If this doesn’t provide relief, it’s time to visit your doctor or dietitian. Certainly do not start looking at blindly cutting out foods and food groups like gluten and dairy, and certainly don’t go spending $$$ on questionable intolerance tests just yet. See a legitimate evidence-based doctor or dietitian first, they will provide you with guidance from there.