Facts you should know about low-fiber diets
- A low-residue diet is a low fiber diet with added restrictions that are designed to reduce the amount of stool in the large intestine.
- A low-residue diet is a temporary eating plan with the goal of "resting" the bowel.
- Low-residue diets may be prescribed during flares of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis) before or after bowel surgery, when tumors or narrowing of the intestine exist, or for other conditions.
- Examples of foods on a low-residue/fiber diet include:
- White bread with no nuts or seeds
- White rice
- Well cooked vegetables without skin or seeds
- fresh fruit like bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon
- Dairy products
- A low-residue diet also restricts foods that increase bowel activity and make the stools looser. These foods and drinks should be avoided, for example:
- fruit juices like prune juice
- bran cereals
- leafy vegetables
- Those on a low-residue diet need to avoid foods high in fiber and whole grains and foods that contain nuts or seeds.
- Fatty foods that increase stool bulk should also be avoided
- Having fewer and smaller bowel movements may help relieve symptoms including abdominal pain and cramping, bloating, and gas formation.
What is a low-fiber (low-residue) diet?
A low-residue diet is a diet that is designed to "rest" the bowel. It is a type of low-fiber diet with added restrictions. A low-residue diet is not a diet plan to follow regularly. It is advised for some people for the short term during a flare of inflammatory bowel disease here is intestinal narrowing, before or after bowel surgery, and other conditions for which it is useful to reduce the amount of stool in the intestines.
The food we eat is digested so that the body can extract the nutrients it needs to function. What's left over is "residue" or undigested food that passes through the colon (large intestine), and is eliminated as stool or feces. A low-residue diet limits fiber and other substances with the goal of reducing stool volume. This results in fewer and smaller bowel movements, potentially relieving symptoms of bowel diseases that can cause inflammation, such as abdominal pain and cramping, bloating, and gas formation.
Who is a low-fiber diet plan for?
In disease and conditions in which the colon has the potential to be inflamed, a low-fiber diet may "rest" the colon. The low-residue diet limits the amount of work the colon has to do in forming feces because most of the content of the diet is absorbed and less waste is required to be eliminated. Since there is a reduced quantity of stool, the time it takes to pass through the length of the colon is increased, resulting in smaller, less frequent bowel movements.
Low-fiber diets are often recommended for patients with a number of different conditions, including the following:
- Flares of inflammatory bowel disease, either Crohn's Disease or ulcerative colitis
- Vowel tumors
- Inflamed bowel due to radiation or chemotherapy treatments
- Before or after bowel surgery, or before colonoscopy
- Inflammation or narrowing of the bowel
In the past, individuals with diverticulosis or irritable bowel disease syndrome (IBS) might have been prescribed a low-residue diet; however, current recommendations now suggest that a high fiber diet might be of more benefit in these conditions. Special diets may be prescribed during flares of acute bowel inflammation (as with diverticulitis), but a high-fiber diet is generally recommended for people with the diverticular disease as this has been shown to be protective for the development of diverticula.
Any diet like this one that restricts certain foods may also be responsible for the decreased intake of important minerals and vitamins. Calcium, potassium, folic acid, and vitamin C supplements may be required with a low-fiber diet.
Individuals on a low-fiber diet will want to limit their fiber intake to 7-10 grams per day. Read food labels carefully. Most food packaging will list the amount of fiber on their label.
List of 15 foods to include in a low-fiber diet plan
Examples of low-residue foods include the following:
- White bread with no nuts or seeds
- White rice
- Refined cereals and pasta
- Vegetables, without skin or seeds that are well cooked
- Fresh fruits including ripe bananas, cantaloupe, apricots, honeydew, papaya, peach, plums, and watermelon
- Canned fruits without seeds or skin like applesauce or pears
- Lean, tender, ground, or well-cooked meats
- Dairy products like milk and yogurt
- Fats such as vegetable oils, salad dressings, margarine, and creamy peanut utter
- Decaffeinated beverages
- Clear juices without skin or seeds, like apple or cranberry
- Strained vegetable juices
Drinks and foods that are not on low-fiber diet plan
A low-residue diet encompasses more than eating less fiber. In addition to decreasing the amount of fiber, individuals eating a low-residue diet also should try to restrict foods that increase bowel activity, and make the stools looser. Examples include dairy products and fruit juices such as prune juice that do not have pulp fiber, but do stimulate the bowel.
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Low-Residue/Low Fiber Diet. UPMC. <http://www.upmc.com/patients-visitors/education/nutrition/pages/low-residue-low-fiber-diet.aspx>.
Tarleton, S., et al. "Low-residue diet in diverticular disease: Putting an end to a myth." Nutrition in clinical practice: official publication of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition 26.2 (2011): 137-142.