A diet bulked up with fibre from vegetables, fruits and whole grains may protect from heart disease and cancer, but it can cause uncomfortable side effects like bloating and stomach pain.
North Americans are recommended to consume 25 to 38 grams of fibre each day. The upper limit of 38 grams has been recommended out of concern that too much fibre might be rough on the gastrointestinal system.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, looked at whether a high fibre diet did tend to increase discomforts such as intestinal gas, bloating, heartburn and upset stomach. They analyzed data on nearly 1,300 women enrolled in a study on whether dietary changes reduced the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
They found that, over one year, women who bulked up their diets with fibre--often beyond the recommended upper limit--were not more prone to bloating, upset stomach or diarrhea. Increased fibre intake was also linked to less constipation.
Study patients assigned to the rich-rich diet were encouraged to consume 30 grams of fibre a day, including five servings of vegetables, three fruit servings and vegetable juice. More than one quarter of these women took in more than 35 grams of fibre a day.
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