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Foraging for Gluten-Free Fiber

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2004 edition of Celiac.com's Journal of Gluten-Sensitivity.

Celiac.com 10/08/2014 - The one condition that accounts for almost half of the patients who seek out gastroenterologists is IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).  Many celiacs suffer from this ailment.  IBS is a ‘functional’ disorder, meaning that there is no damage to the digestive tract.  Only the bowel’s function, not its structure, is disturbed.   

Photo: CC--michael koolmanHere is Where the Irony Begins
Patients suffering from constipation are encouraged to consume a lot of dietary fiber (non-digestible carbohydrates and lignin from plants) because it acts as a mild laxative and promotes bowel evacuation.  A ‘mild laxative’ is the last thing someone with diarrhea needs, right?  Wrong!  It is recommended that IBS patients go on a high-fiber diet.  

Studies show that IBS patients on a high fiber diet report a reduction in pain; those on a low fiber diet do not.  Bowel habits improve in about half of IBS patients on the high fiber diet.  Even for people who do not have IBS, doctors recommend that we all include more fiber in our diets.

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So How Much is ‘Enough’ Fiber?
The daily recommendation is 25 to 35 grams of combined soluble fiber (dissolves in water) and insoluble fiber (‘roughage’ that does not dissolve in water).   Peas, beans and apples contain soluble fiber, which slows digestion and helps the body absorb nutrients from food.  Flax seeds and nuts provide insoluble fiber, which helps foods pass through the stomach and intestines and adds bulk to the stool.  Fiber is found in plant foods and cannot be digested by humans.  It may also help control weight because it makes you feel full sooner.  The total grams of fiber you should ingest depends on your digestive system’s sensitivity.  

Just a warning:  A high-fiber diet causes gas because the carbohydrates in high-fiber foods cannot be completely digested in the stomach and small intestine.  It is best to increase the amount of consumed fiber slowly to allow your body to get used to it gradually.  Additionally, it is vital to increase water consumption in proportion to the increased intake of fiber.

Where Do You Find Fiber?
Fiber is found in vegetable gums (konjac gum, gum Arabic, carrageenan, guar gum, locust bean gum, petin vegetable gums, xanthan gum).  It is also found in nature, in the foods we harvest from the ground.  The following list shows some of the foods that are high in fiber:

  • 1 oz. dry almonds (3g)
  • 1 oz. roasted pumpkin seeds (10.2g)
  • 1 oz. sunflower seeds (4g)
  • 1 unpeeled medium apple (3.7g)
  • 1 unpeeled pear (4.5g)
  • 1 kiwi (5g)
  • 4 oz. dried, sulfured apricots (8.8g)
  • 4 oz. dried figs (10.5g)
  • 10 dried prunes (6.1g)
  • 1 cup raspberries (9g)
  • ¾ cup blackberries (7g)
  • ½ cup baked beans (7g)
  • ½ cup chick peas (7g)
  • 1 cup boiled lentils (15.6g)
  • ½ cup canned lima beans (5.8g)
  • ½ cup navy beans (6.7g)
  • ½ cup pinto refried beans (11g)
  • 1 corn on the cob (5.9g)
  • 1 cup white corn (11.2g)
  • 3 ½ cups air-popped popcorn (4.5g)
  • 2 oz. corn pasta, cooked (7.9g)
  • ½ cup frozen peas, cooked (4.2g)
  • 1 cup spinach (4g)

Photo: CC--eddie welkerYou may have to eat 50 stalks of celery each day to get your recommended amount of fiber, or you may prefer to incorporate the suggestions below: 

  1. Add nuts and seeds (sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds) to salads and casseroles, sprinkle them over vegetables, or add them to a stir-fry.  You can also sprinkle them with seasonings and roast them slowly in the oven for a healthy snack.
  2. Add cooked dried beans and shredded carrots to everything from salads to soups, stews, casseroles, meatloaf, or even rice (Note that cooking vegetables does not change their fiber content).
  3. Eat plenty of fruits (especially citrus fruits), berries, prunes, figs or apricots.  Keeping the skins on fruits (and vegetables) will add a small amount of extra fiber, but the skins are the part that are most exposed to pesticides, so unless you are buying organic fruits and vegetables, you may be better off peeling them first.
  4. Snack on popcorn (Air-popped is the healthiest).
  5. Sprinkle raisins on salads, puddings, canned fruit, baked apples, sweet potatoes, cereal, or just eat them plain as a snack.
  6. Add shredded cabbage and peas to salads, soups, wraps, stir-fries, and stews.
  7. Use brown rice or quinoa in place white rice.  
  8. Add shredded apples to pancake batters, quick breads, and yam dishes.  Serve a baked apple for dessert instead of cookies.
  9. Eat a fresh apples, apricots, prunes or oranges instead of drinking their juice.
  10. Add dried cranberries to cereal, quick breads, muffins, cookie batter, yam dishes, and salads.  Make up a bowl of nuts, raisins and dried cranberries for a snack.

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2 Responses:

 
Joe
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said this on
14 Oct 2014 6:32:19 AM PDT
That's all fine but what if you have celiac and diabetes? It kinda limits what you can eat to help you along. It seems as though there is no way out.

 
Peter Finkle
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said this on
19 Oct 2014 9:19:12 AM PDT
Psyllium husks are a gluten-free high fiber that provide multiple fiber benefits, such as providing extra fiber in the diet, normalizing regularity (for people who have either constipation or loose stools), supporting blood sugar levels within the normal range and supporting the health of the colon. Psyllium husks can be taken as a supplement mixed in juice or water, or added to recipes.




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I am very interested in this too. My daughter tested negative for celiac, but has terrible primarily neurological symptoms. Because she tested positive for SIBO at the time and was having some GI symptoms, I was told it was just a Fodmap issue. I knew better and we have been gluten free for 2 years. Fast forward to this February. She had a SIBO recurrence that I treated at home with diet and herbal antibiotics because I couldn't get the insurance referral. She was doing great. Then stupid me brought in gluten containing chick feed for the new baby chicks we got. Feed dust everywhere. Total mess. Really, no GI symptoms (she was SIBO free by then)...but the neurological symptoms! my daughter couldn't walk for three days. Burning down one leg, nerve pain in the foot. Also heaviness of limbs, headache and fatigue. Better after three days. But unfortunately she had a TINY gluten exposure at that three day mark and had another severe reaction: loss of balance, loss of feeling in her back and arms, couldn't see for a few seconds, and three days of hand numbness, fatigue, concentration problems. Well, I actually contacted Dr. Hadjivassilou by email and he confirmed that the symptoms are consistent with gluten ataxia but any testing would require a gluten challenge. Even with these exposures, antibodies would not be high enough. His suggestion was maintain vigilance gluten free. I just saw my daughter's GI at U of C and she really only recognizes celiac disease and neurological complications of that. But my impression is that gluten ataxia is another branch in the autoimmune side of things (with celiac and DH being the other two). At this point, I know a diagnosis is important. But I don't know how to get there. We homeschool right now so I can give her time to heal when she is accidentally glutened, I can keep my home safe for her (ugh, that I didn't think of the chicken feed!) But at some point, she is going to be in college, needing to take exams, and totally incapacitated because of an exposure. And doctors state side that are worth seeing? Who is looking at gluten ataxia in the US?

Caro..............monitoring only the TSH to gauge thyroid function is what endo's do who don' t do a good job of managing thyroid disease. They should do the full panel and check the actual thyroid hormone numbers.........T3 and T4. The importance of the TSH comes second to hormone levels. In order to track how severely the thyroid is under attack, you need to track antibody levels.......not the TSH. I did not stay with endocrinologists because I found they did not do a very good job and found much greater help and results with a functional medicine MD. You should not have a goiter if your thyroid is functioning well and your TSH is "normal". Maybe they should do a full panel? Going gluten free can have a profound affect for the better on thyroid function and that is something that is becoming more and more accepted today. Ask most people with Celiac and thyroid disease and they will tell you that. My thyroid never functioned well or was under control under after I discovered I had Celiac and went gluten free. It was the only way I got my antibody numbers back down close to normal and they were around 1200 when it was diagnosed with Celiac. I was diagnosed with Hashi's long before the Celiac diagnosis. I am not sure Vitamin D has anything to do with thyroid antibodies but who knows? Maybe it does have an affect for the better. It is really hard to get Vitmain D levels up, depending on where you live. Mine are going up, slowly, even after 12 years gluten-free but I live in the Northeast in the US and we don't have sun levels like they do in the South. I take 5,000 IU daily and that is a safe level to take, believe it or not. I get no sun on my job so the large dose it is! Having Celiac Disease should not stop you from being able to travel, especially S. America. I travel, although I do agree that some countries might be very difficult to be gluten free in. You can be a foodie and travel with Celiac so no worries on that front. You may not be able to sample from someone else's plate, unless they are eating gluten-free too but I have had awesome experiences with food when traveling so you can too!

I don't know what you drank or where.... so here are a few thoughts. - sure, a dive bar might have dirty glasses and serve a cocktail in a beer glass? But a nice reminder place, with a dishwasher, should be fine. If it's a sketchy place, Stick to wine, then it's served in wine glasses that aren't used for beer or bottled ciders in the bottle. - ciders on tap might, just a slight chance, have an issue. Because of beer on tap, mixed up lines, etc. - you may have a problem with alcohol - you may have issues with The high sugar content of the drink. I know I have similar issues if I drink serveral ciders of extra sugary brands - are you positive it was a gluten-free drink? Not this " redds Apple" pretending to be a cider - it's beer with apple flavor. Or one of those " gluten removed " beers?

Hi Stephanie, I'm also from the UK, I've found this site more helpful than anything we have! As already mentioned above, in my experience it could depend on what and where you were drinking. Gluten free food and drink isn't always (not usually) 100% gluten free as you may know, maybe you have become more sensitive to even a trace of gluten that is probably in gluten free food/drink. Is it possible you have a problem with corn, particularly high fructose corn syrup that is in a lot of alcoholic drinks? This was a big problem for me and the only alcoholic drinks I can tolerate are William Chase vodka and gin. I contacted the company last year and all their drinks are 100% gluten and corn free, made the old fashioned way with no additives, so maybe try their products if you like the occasional drink and see how you get on. If you drink out, not many pubs sell their products but I know Wetherspoons do and smaller wine bars may too. l was never a spirit drinker but I must say their products are absolutely lovely! Very easy on a compromised gut too considering it's alcohol. I second the suggestion on seeing a natural health practitioner. I've recently started seeing a medical herbalist, as I've got nowhere with my now many food intolerances since going gluten free last year and I've noticed a difference in my health already.

Sorry for the very late reply and thanks for the replies, I didn't get a notification of any. In case anyone else comes across this and has been wondering the same as I was, I did try a vegetable broth and I did react to it in the same way as if I'd eaten the vegetables. As for the candida, I've been using coconut oil and am seeing a medical herbalist for this and leaky gut. It's only been a few weeks but I've noticed an improvement all round.