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Fiber & Constipation




  1. Where can I find a dietitian who works with people who want to eat more fiber or have problems with consitpation? Answer
  2. I have had a few patients wanting to know if they could take Chitosol as a fiber supplement. Answer
  3. I have hemorrhoids and I was wondering if this condition is at all related to my poor eating habits? Answer
  4. Is Psyllium Seed (in Metamucil) made of seaweed? Answer
  5. I read in a magazine about Pro Fibe. Can you give me any ideas where to locate it? Answer
  6. I just purchased a vita-mix blender to blend fruit and vegetable drinks. What is the recommended amount of fiber intake per person per day? Answer
  7. I went to the pharmacy and asked about diet stuff. I was told the best diet pill was in the laxative section. I pikced up FiberCon. What is in it? Answer
  8. I have a condition called diverticulosis I've already cut out lettuce, apples, peanuts and cabbage. Wha else would you suggest? Answer
  9. What is bran? You hear so much about fiber and bran lately. Answer


Where can I find a dietitian who works with people who want to eat more fiber or have problems with constipation?

The Medical Nutrition and Nutrition Entrepreneurs dietetic practice groups of the American Dietetic Association provide medical nutrition therapy based on your diagnosis. Dietitians often have their own private practice nutrition counseling services in addition to services provided in a clinic or hospital. You can find a dietitian at the American Dietetic Association. Include your zip code or city / state, the type of service you want (individual consultation) and digestive disorders or gastrointestinal diseases / disorders expertise.


I am currently working as an out patient dietitian. I recently have had a few patients wanting to know if they could take Chitosol as a fiber supplement. I advised against it for a variety of reasons. I just wanted to get your opinion on this product. Thank you.

I checked several over the counted medication drug information websites and could not find any information about Chitosol.

However, Chitosan, a binding resin, is a dietary supplement that claims weight loss which is unfounded since it can't be replicated in humans though it precipitates fat in a petri dish. Chitosan is made from the skeleton of shrimp, crab and other shellfish. It is undigested as it goes through the body, but does not provide the usual benefits of fiber found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and cooked dried beans or peas.


I have a question. I know I have an eating disorder of some sort. I alternate between overeating and extreme diets. Anyway, I have hemorrhoids, and I was wondering if this condition is at all related to my poor eating habits? If you could also give me any information on eating disorders it would be very helpful.

I would need more specific info regarding your overeating habits and extreme diets before agreeing that you have an eating disorder. You can read my anorexia and bulimia topics for info on eating disorders, but would suggest you talk to a psychologist rather than diagnosing yourself.

Hemorrhoids are varicose veins of the rectum which are usually caused by constipation, but can also appear in the later stages of pregnancy. Basically, these veins can be either inside or outside your rectum. The veins on the outside get pushed outside your rectum when you strain to pass constipated stool. Pregnant women sometimes get hemorrhoids because of the pressure their uterus puts on their colon and rectum as the baby grows in size or starts dropping into their pelvis prior to birth. I would recommend you go see your doctor to diagnose your hemorrhoids and best treatment approach.

A high fiber eating plan and adequate water intake (your urine should be colorless and odorless) should solve your constipation. However, a high fiber eating plan will not cure hemorrhoids as they do not go away. They are either inflamed or just enlarged. Hemorrhoids can be surgically removed if they are painful or bleeding. If you are seeing blood with your stool, please go see your doctor immediately.


Is Psyllium Seed (in Metamucil) made of seaweed? If yes can it contain large amounts of iodine that may aggravate hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormones)?

Psyllium seeds are soluble and insoluble sources of fiber from plant (plantago ovata), not seaweed and to the best of my knowledge do not contain iodine. I could not find a nutritional analysis of psyllium husks.

Psyllium adds bulk to stool and helps hold more water in stool to prevent hard, constipated stools. It is a grain primarily grown in India (85% of world production). Mediterranean and North Africa. Psyllium is best known for its ability to maintain regular bowel movements. It also helps to lower cholesterol and aid the digestive process. A study conducted at the University of Minnesota on psyllium and the reduction of cholesterol. The psyllium(25 grams daily) caused a reduce heart disease and cholesterol levels, as much as 15%, in the men tested.



I recently read in a magazine about "Pro Fibe". I am having a lot of difficulty locating it in the natural food stores. Can you give me any ideas where to locate it? Thank you very much.

Haven't a clue. My question is why do you want to use it? What are the reported benefits? What is "natural" about this product over eating whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables?


Hello, I just purchased a vita-mix (blender) to blend fruit and vegetable drinks. I would like to find out what is the recommended amount of fiber intake per person per day. Should children consume the same amount of fiber? Also, I don't like to eat fruit by chewing it. However blending into juice is OK. Would drink blended juice sufficient for healthy daily diet?

Thank you for checking the answer.

Whether you blend or eat the edible part of fruits or vegetables, you should get the same nutrients assuming you compare 1 raw piece to the equivalent amount juiced. If you cook the vegetables or fruits first, some vitamins (Vitamin C, thiamin) may be lost during cooking depending on the amount of water and the length of cooking. If you don't like to eat fruits or vegetables, but will drink them juiced, which is fine. Either way, you are getting the nutritional benefit.

Generally, a person should consume 1 gram of fiber for every 100 calories or approximately 25 grams of fiber per day. Persons with reduced food intake, say 1200 calories, should aim for at least 15 grams of fiber as the average American only eats 12 grams per day. No, children do not need the same amount of fiber as adult; they need fewer fibers and fewer calories until they reach adolescence. The Food Guide Pyramid recommends enough fruit, vegetable and grain servings to meet a person's fiber requirements if a variety of raw and whole grain foods are eaten.

Fiber is the indigestible carbohydrate found in plant cell walls and is either soluble or insoluble. Soluble fiber acts like a gel and insoluble fiber ads bulk to or softens stool. A healthy fiber content of the diet can be achieved by eating fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Also, when eating whole grains, increase your fluid intake as insoluble fiber absorbs fluid from your intestines.


I went to the pharmacy and asked about diet stuff and was told the best diet pill in the place was in the laxative section. I picked up a package of FiberCon and started taking one with a big glass of water around 11 AM and another (with water) around 4 PM. It seems to be helping me to feel fuller faster as well as to even out my blood sugar and (in the case of the 4 PM one) to help me be able to avoid snacks.

What is in it? Is it dietary fiber or the other kind? I told my doctor I was doing this and she said it was fine to take two a day, split up like that, without any dire consequences. Would eating carrot sticks have the same effect? (1/2 carrot or 14 or what?)

I'm currently reading Jane Brody's Nutrition book, get the Nutrition Action Newsletter and generally find myself to be a pretty knowledgeable lay person, but I'm tripped up by the different types of fiber.

I don't know what fiber is in FiberCon, consult the list of ingredients on the package label. It may be listed. Otherwise, ask your pharmacist or doctor to look in the Physician's Desk Reference (PDR). FiberCon is probably classified as a drug and governed by different regulations than ingredients in foods.

Fiber is any edible food material that passes through the intestinal tract undigested. Before newer laboratory techniques that can detect various fibers, we only had crude fiber values for food. Basically scientists poured hydrochloric acid on a food and then a strong alkaline substance to simulate what happens to food in the gut. Whatever was left to the food sample was called crude fiber. Now with newer laboratory techniques, scientists can detect other "fiber".

There are two main types of dietary fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber is effective at increasing your feeling of fullness, stool size and bulk and helps reduce constipation and hemorrhoids. Insoluble fiber includes wheat bran, whole cereal grains and vegetables. Researchers have suggested that insoluble fibers may reduce colon cancer and diverticulosis.

On the other hand, soluble fiber forms a gelatin-like substance in the intestines and increases the water content in stool. Soluble fiber is found in citrus fruit, legumes (dried beans and peas), oats, barley and "gums" which are found in oatmeal and dried beans. Researchers have suggested that soluble fiber decreases blood cholesterol and results in a lower blood sugar after meals for diabetics. Perhaps you have seen all the oat bran advertising in the media and your grocery store.

One raw carrot, 7 1/2" contains about 1.8 grams of dietary fiber which is not much compared to 1 ounce All Bran cereal contains 8.5 grams. The current recommendation is 1 gram of fiber per 100 calories. So if you are on a 2,000-calorie diet, you need 20 grams of fiber per day.

The big glass of water you drink with FiberCon is probably to provide liquid for the fiber to absorb and swell within your stomach. Your sense of fullness may only last two hours, which is the amount of time it takes for your stomach to empty. This may delay snacking between meals. After this you may feel hungry, but then it may be time for a meal.

You mentioned your blood sugar and I wonder if you are a diabetic and on insulin. If you are on NPH or Lente, you should eat a snack mid-afternoon when the insulin action peaks or you may experience low blood sugar. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about snacks.

Exercise in conjunction with diet has been shown to be the most effective in achieving weight loss over a long term (one-year). Look at the Exercise topic for more information on the benefits of exercise.

Disclosure: I have provided media services about fiber for Kellogg's All Bran.


I have a condition called diverticulosis. It seems every Spring I get into trouble with it. I've already cut out lettuce, apples, peanuts and cabbage. What else would you suggest?

Well, first of all you are cutting out the very foods you should be eating. You need a high fiber diet, not a low fiber diet.

Diverticulosis is a disease where pockets form in the large intestine. When food gets caught in these pockets, they become irritated and inflamed (diverticulitis). These abnormal pockets usually form because of a diet that is too low in fiber.

Since your gastrointestinal tract is not used to a high fiber diet, I would suggest that you start slowly. You should be eating fresh vegetables, fresh fruits (especially edible peelings), whole grain cereals and bran every day. These foods provide indigestible material (fiber) which helps clean out your intestinal tract.

Bran is probably the most important part of this high fiber diet. It swells up and absorbs water and passes through your body undigested. Along the way, it helps food move faster by stimulating the peristalsis (movement) of the intestines. Bran can be sprinkled on your regular bowl of hot or cold cereal. Bran can also be baked in bread or muffins. There are several good bran muffin recipes available.

If you should avoid any foods, make them strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, whole cranberries or foods with small seeds (particulate). The small seeds could lodge in a diverticuli (intestine pocket) and cause you discomfort.

Also, I would suggest you call your doctor and ask him/her for a referral for a high fiber diet, which you should follow when you are not having symptoms. I would suggest you follow a low fiber diet if your intestinal pockets (diverticulosis) are inflamed (diverticulitis) and causing you pain. See your doctor for active symptoms or pain.


What is bran? You hear so much about fiber and bran lately. My grandmother used to tell us to eat roughage. Why? Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away?

Bran is the brown, outer covering of cereal grains such as wheat, rye, oats, barley, corn and rice. The body does not digest it as we lack the enzymes needed to break down this complex carbohydrate. As it goes through your gastrointestinal system, it absorbs water and swells. Any food that is undigested is excreted in the stool, as are other waste products.

Research has studied the relationship between high fiber diets and lowering the incidence of colon cancer and diverticulosis. Also, researchers are looking at high fiber diets for lowering the cholesterol level in the blood and managing diabetes. Because fiber stimulates the intestinal peristalsis (movement), food travels through the intestine faster.

There are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber is effective at increasing stool size and bulk and helps reduce constipation and hemorrhoids. Insoluble fiber includes wheat bran, whole cereal grains and vegetables. Researchers have suggested that insoluble fibers may reduce colon cancer and diverticulosis. On the other hand, soluble fiber forms a gelatin-like substance in the intestines and increases the water content in stool. Soluble fiber is found in citrus fruit, legumes (dried beans and peas), oats, barley and "gums" which are found in oatmeal and dried beans. Researchers have suggested that soluble fiber decreases blood cholesterol and results in a lower blood sugar after meals for diabetics. Perhaps you have seen all the oat bran advertising in the media and your grocery store.

Foods that are high in fiber include: fresh fruits including edible peelings; raw vegetables; whole cereal grains; legumes (peanuts and groundnuts); dried beans, dried peas. So yes, grandmother was right when she said an apple a day is good for you, if you eat the peel.

If your diet is currently low in these foods, start including one or two high fiber foods daily. Then, every three or four days, add another high fiber food, up to four high fiber foods per day. Also start adding bran to your daily meal plan. Start slowly since your intestines aren't used to much movement. Add one tablespoon of bran per day during week one. Each week following add another tablespoon of bran until you are eating four tablespoon of bran per day. You don't have to buy raw bran, since processed bran found in packaged cereals contain about 90% of the fiber found in unprocessed bran. Try sprinkling the bran on your favorite hot or cold cereal in the morning.

Remember to consult your doctor if you have any discomfort from eating a high fiber diet. Persons with colitis should stay on a low fiber diet.






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