Dietary fiber is the undigestible part of plants and includes soluble fiber (inulin, mucilage, pectin, psyllium, resistant starch, and wheat dextrin) and insoluble fiber (cellulose, some hemicellulose, and lignin). Fiber resists digestion by the human body. It is this resistance that makes these fibers important in both normally functioning and in disorders of the large intestine or colon.
In certain medical conditions, it is important to restrict fiber. These include acute or subacute diverticulitis, and the acute phases of certain inflammatory conditions of the bowel – ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. After some types of intestinal surgery, a low fiber/low residue diet may be used as a transition to a regular diet. A low fiber diet may also be used for a period of time after a colostomy or ileostomy is performed.
Depending upon individual food selection, the low fiber/low residue diet is adequate in all nutrients (National Research Council’s Recommended Dietary Allowance). If the diet must be strict and followed over a long period of time, the intake of fruits and vegetables may not be adequate; and/or on a low residue diet, there may not be enough calcium included. In these cases, a multivitamin supplement or liquid nutritional supplement may be needed. If you have questions about your dietary needs, please ask your provider.