Low Fibre Diet

What is it?

A low fibre diet is also known as a restricted fibre, or low residue diet.   Low residue refers to the residue left in intestines.   Fibre is not digested by the body and is expelled as waste.  Therefore, decreasing fibre intake also decreases bowel mass and bowel activity.

Why a low Fibre Diet?

Sometimes, it is necessary to restrict or reduce the amount of fibre one consumes.  A person may be prescribed a low-fibre diet to reduce bowel /intestinal activity for a number of reasons.

Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids, diverticulitis are some of the health problems that would warrant this diet.  Also, before and after intestinal surgery, or prior to cancer treatments one may be asked to limit fibre intake.

Usually the individual is to consume fewer than 10 grams per day.

Considerations

If you are on a low fibre diet, you are asked to refrain from eating vegetables, grains, and fruits.  Your doctor might also want you to limit dairy.  While dairy products are not high in fibre, they can leave a residue in the intestines, causing potential irritation.

Every person is different.  Your doctor will consider your specific situation when determining the amount of fibre you should take in.  It is important to check labels when shopping, as some foods will have added fibre.

Generally, foods should be prepared so they are tender; cook vegetables well.  Potatoes should be peeled.  Avoid meats that are tough or gristly.

Of course you will need to drink extra water to avoid constipation.  You will notice a change in bowel movements; they may be smaller and less frequent.  This is the desired effect and should provide some relief from pain and intestinal discomfort.

Potential Problems

Obviously, constipation could result from a low fibre diet. In part, fewer movements and less bowel activity is the goal, but constipation can become a serious health risk also.   Further, restricting fibre also means reducing the intake of fruits and vegetables , which would also reduce intake of vitamin C, calcium, and folic acid – an individual on a low fibre diet should therefore be under the care of a physician, monitor bowel activity, and may need a vitamin supplement.

What Foods should be included?

Many low fibre foods can be found in health stores.  The following are suggested:

For Fruits and Veggies:

Fruit juices (except prune juice) are lower in fibre than raw fruits.

Soft fruit like bananas, apricots, fruit cocktail, peaches or melons – peeling fruits is recommended.

Vegetable juice, tomato sauce, and well cooked, tender vegetables

Meats are generally okay, dairy consumption as directed by physician, tofu

For Grains

Refined white bread, also buns, bagels or English muffins

Cereals — Cheerios, Cornflakes, Cream of Wheat, Special K

White rice, processed pasta and noodles

Corn and flour tortillas, cornbread

Foods to Avoid

You will want to avoid any foods that are known irritants.  Some foods that can irritate the bowels include spices, pepper, and hot sauces, strong cheeses and possibly other dairy, caffeine, nuts, seeds and popcorn in order to achieve a low fibre diet.