Tips for Incorporating Fiber into a Gluten-Free Diet

BIDMC Contributor

MAY 24, 2019

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Dietary fiber—found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes—is best known for regulating bowel movements. It’s a carbohydrate that passes through your body undigested, helping to regulate your body’s use of sugars, keep you full longer and maintain a healthy weight.

“On a typical diet, your doctor might tell you to eat more healthy whole grains, like wheat bran, whole wheat bread and cereals to increase your fiber intake,” says registered dietitian Melinda Dennis, Nutrition Coordinator, Celiac Center. “However, this poses a problem for those with celiac disease who are on a gluten-free diet since many gluten-free foods are low in fiber.”

She adds, “The good news is that there are plenty of gluten-free alternatives to whole wheat that are still high in fiber.”

Finding the Right Fiber for You

There are two types of dietary fibers – soluble and insoluble. “Incorporating healthy sources of both will help keep your digestive tract moving,” Dennis explains. Soluble fiber soaks up water as it passes through your system, which helps bulk up your stool and guard against diarrhea. Examples of foods with soluble fiber include:

  • Legumes (beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans)
  • Fruits (apples, pears, oranges, prunes)
  • Vegetables (carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, eggplant)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Ground flax seeds and chia seeds

Insoluble fiber helps prevent constipation. Examples of foods with soluble fiber include:

  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Wild and brown rice
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans)
  • Fruits (strawberries, papayas, mangoes)
  • Vegetables (cucumber, asparagus, okra)

When consuming a diet rich in fiber, it is important to drink water to prevent constipation. Consuming about eight (8-ounce) glasses per day is recommended for adults.

Important Cross-Contamination Tips

It’s important to make sure fiber-rich foods are labeled as gluten-free to prevent cross-contamination.

  • Ensure all grains, nuts and seeds are labeled gluten-free.
  • If you’re eating dried fruit, such as dates or prunes, be sure they have not been rolled in oat flour.
  • Gluten-free oats are a great source of soluble fiber in the gluten-free diet. Tolerance depends on the individual – speak to your celiac healthcare provider to see if oats are okay for you.

Easy Ways to Add More Fiber

Daily recommendations for fiber intake include:

Age  Gender   Fiber (grams/day)
 14-50  Male  38
 19-50  Female  25
 >50  Male  30
 >50  Female  21
 All ages  Pregnant Female  28
 All ages  Lactating Female  29

Check out the tips below to add more fiber into your day.

  • Choose one of the super-six gluten-free grains instead of relying only on rice, potato and corn products.
  • Sprinkle ground flax seeds or chia seeds on hot and cold gluten-free cereals.
  • Mix together half a portion of whole grain brown rice with half a portion of amaranth, quinoa or teff and cook; be sure to increase the amount of cooking water accordingly.
  • Dip baby bok choy or your favorite vegetables in hummus.
  • Add fruits, leafy greens, and gluten-free chia seeds or gluten-free ground flaxseed to your smoothie.
  • Add cooked, dried beans to soups, salads and casseroles.
  • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables rather than juices.
  • Choose fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber gluten-free crackers for snacks.
  • Experiment with substituting whole gluten-free grains into your favorite recipes.

For more celiac disease nutritional tips, visit CeliacNow.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.