Health Q&A: Is fibre good or bad?

Dr Mark Porter / 16 July 2019

Dr Mark Porter clears up confusion about whether fibre is always good for you.

Q: I have seen a specialist about an upset stomach, which I have had on and off for years. He confirmed it was irritable bowel syndrome and told me to try a low-fibre diet, contradicting everything I have been told in the past. So is fibre good or bad?

A: You are not the only one who is confused. As a general rule, the more fibre (roughage) you eat the better for your bowel. But in people prone to loose bowels and diarrhoea – as in many cases of IBS – it is now widely accepted that the opposite is often true.

Learn more about irritable bowel syndrome symptoms

The type of fibre found in cereals and the skins of fruit and veg can aggravate an upset stomach and this is one of the few instances where doctors advocate a low-fibre approach.

Most hospitals have special diet sheets to help people like you, but essentially it is the only time a doctor is likely to tell you to avoid cereals, go for white bread rather than brown, and to peel all your fruit and veg.

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