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Why a Low-Fiber Diet Might be Your Key to Better Digestive & Overall Health

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By Kelley Herring

It was little more than a generation ago when avoiding dietary “fiber” was promoted as a key component of good health. In Europe and America, we used to peel our fruits and skin our vegetables… specifically to avoid fiber. It is still a common practice in France and Italy.

But the “anti-fiber” message is not one we hear often today… in fact, we hear just the opposite.

For decades, we have been urged to increase our fiber consumption for better health. Public health authorities, doctors, and natural health experts alike have incessantly recommended consuming MORE natural fiber from vegetables, beans, and fruits (and also in the form of bread, pasta, and cereals).

The “More-Fiber Message” has promised to improve our digestion and reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. And millions of people have heeded the advice, assuming you can never have too much of a “good thing.”

But has this diet lived up to its promises?


Is fiber really the healthy compound we’ve been made to believe?

The answer is no!

In fact, there is very good evidence – especially for some people – that the over-consumption of fiber can lead to serious digestive disorders and brain and neurological disorders (including Parkinson’s), dramatically boost inflammation and increase the risk for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

You’ve heard that it is important to “feed your microbiome” with fiber, probiotics, prebiotics, and fermented foods. The truth is that it is not always the best course.

In fact, for many people, the disease can be reversed, and health can be restored by removing fiber from the diet and “pruning” the microbiome.


Dysbiosis & Chronic Disease: Fermentable Foes and Bacterial Imbalances

The health of your gut has a big impact on your overall health – from immunity to brain function.

And the health of your gut largely depends on the balance of the trillions of microbes within (and on your body) – collectively called the microbiome.

Scientific American says:

“For a long time, scientists assumed that these bacteria, despite their numbers, neither did us much harm nor much good. But in the past decade, researchers have changed their tune.” 

These microbes carry out numerous vital biochemical processes. They produce nutrients. They aid in the digestion of food and elimination of waste. They also help regulate hormones and participate in detoxification.

But not all gut bugs are good bugs.

We can negatively shift our microbiome in favor of the “bad guys” with processed foods, chemicals, drugs, alcohol… and even by eating certain so-called “healthy foods”.

This imbalance is called dysbiosis and it is a key factor in promoting chronic inflammation, autoimmune disorders, food allergies, nutritional deficiencies, mood disorders, and numerous chronic diseases.

Let’s take a look at some of the conditions associated with dysbiosis:

  • Parkinson’s: A recent study proved a strong overlap between inflammatory bowel diseases (like leaky gut, Crohn’s, IBD, and IBS) and Parkinson’s. The prevalence of Parkinson’s was 28 percent higher in those with inflammatory bowel disease compared to healthy controls. The cause? Imbalances of short-chain fatty acids produced by certain types of bacteria in the gut.[i][ii]

  • Depression: Certain bacteria produce compounds called lipopolysaccharides (LPS), which can provoke an immune response. Researchers in Belgium found significantly higher levels of LPS antibodies in patients with major depression than those without. The differences were so significant that levels of these microbiome-related compounds could be used to diagnose major depression with an accuracy of just over 90%.[iii][iv]

  • Brain Fog: This vague, foggy feeling is a common complaint among those with autoimmune disease and chronic pain. We now know digestive inflammation impairs gut-brain communication, which can lead to a numb feeling of “unreality,” poor focus, and impaired learning and memory.[v]

  • Muscle Twitches: Leaky gut can cause deficiencies of magnesium and potassium, leading to muscle twitches, cramps, and spasms.[vi]

  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): Studies show that people with certain gastrointestinal disorders have higher rates of RLS. People with IBS have a three-fold increased risk of RLS! [vii][viii][ix]

Refined carbs and sugars are the key dietary factors that promote gut dysbiosis. However, many so-called healthy fermentable fibers – like those found in asparagus, onions, garlic, artichokes, and chicory – can be harmful too.


The “Healthy” Fibers Linked to IBD

Research conducted at the University of Alberta sought to uncover the role of fiber and gut microbes in people with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) – including Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

If you suffer from IBD, you know the symptoms can be excruciating. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloody stools and weight loss, not to mention increased risk of colorectal cancer.

It is very common for doctors and natural health practitioners to recommend for these diseases is to eat more fiber, take probiotics and consume probiotic foods.

But the researchers found it was THESE very foods causing issues for many of the IBD suffers in the study! In fact, these fiber-rich foods are especially problematic – in up to 40% of IBD sufferers – due to specific microbes being missing or malfunctioning.[x]

The researchers are using the data gathered in the study to create a novel stool test to help people adjust their diets to prevent flares.

While more accurate diagnostic tools are always helpful, you don’t have to take a stool test or wait to get the potential benefits. If you have an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), consider removing fiber – especially fermentable fiber – from your diet for a period of time and journal your symptoms.

If you’ve cleared your cupboard of the processed foods that could be promoting digestive issues, you might find that there’s some “innocuous” fermentable fiber lurking in foods like yogurt, baking mixes, and veggie noodle alternatives. Especially watch out for inulin or chicory root fiber, per the results of this study.


Grassfed Steak with Pistachio Salsa Danielle Christy Savor the Kitchen
Discover nutrient-dense recipes like this Grass-Fed NY Strip with Pistachio Salsa by Danielle Christy.


A Zero Fiber Diet Food List

A zero-fiber, high-nutrient diet should include:


A No Fiber Meal Plan

Here are a few simple no-fiber meal ideas to get you started. Keep in mind your sensitivity will vary, and you may be able to tolerate herb-based sauces (pesto, chimichurri) and even low-fiber or low-fermentable (Low FODMAP) veggies.


kelley herring

Kelley Herring

Love comfort foods, but not the carbs? Check out Kelley’s FREE new book – Carb Lover’s Keto – with 100 recipes for all of your favorite comfort foods. From Chicken Parmigiana and Coconut Shrimp to Buffalo Wings and Pizza. Discover how you can indulge – 100% guilt free!


[1] Kwon, D. Does Parkinson’s Begin in the Gut? Scientific American. Published May 8, 2018.

[2] Hasegawa, S. et al. Intestinal Dysbiosis and Lowered Serum Lipopolysaccharide-Binding Protein in Parkinson’s Disease. PLOS One. 2015;10(11):e0142164

[3] Foster, J., McVey Neufeld, K. Gut-brain axis: how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression. Trends in Neurosciences. May 2013. Vol 36, No. 5

[4] Maes M, Kubera M, Leunis JC. M-Care4U Outpatient Clinics, and the Clinical Research Center for Mental Health, Belgium. The gut-brain barrier in major depression: Intestinal mucosal dysfunction with an increased translocation of LPS from gram negative enterobacteria (leaky gut) plays a role in the inflammatory pathophysiology of depression.Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2008 Feb 18;29(1)

[5] Galland L1.The gut microbiome and the brain.J Med Food. 2014 Dec;17(12):1261-72. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2014.7000.

[6] Anderson B, Pitsinger A. Improvement in chronic muscle fasciculations with dietary change: a suspected case of gluten neuropathy. J Chiropr Med. 2014;13(3):188–191. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2014.01.002

[7] Weinstock LB, Walters AS, Paueksakon P. Restless legs syndrome–theoretical roles of inflammatory and immune mechanisms. Sleep Med Rev. 2012 Aug;16(4):341-54. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2011.09.003. Epub 2012 Jan 17. PMID: 22258033.

[8] Diez-Fairen M, Bandres-Ciga S, Houle G, Nalls MA, Girard SL, Dion PA, Blauwendraat C, Singleton AB, Rouleau GA, Pastor P. Genome-wide estimates of heritability and genetic correlations in essential tremor. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2019 Jul;64:262-267. doi: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2019.05.002. Epub 2019 May 4. PMID: 31085086; PMCID: PMC7382955.

[9] Guo J, Pei L, Chen L, Chen H, Gu D, Peng Y, Sun J. Bidirectional association between irritable bowel syndrome and restless legs syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Med. 2021 Jan;77:104-111. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2020.12.002. Epub 2020 Dec 4. PMID: 33348297.

[10] Heather K. Armstrong, Michael Bording-Jorgensen, Deanna M. Santer, Zhengxiao Zhang, Rosica Valcheva, Aja M. Rieger, Justin Sung-Ho Kim, Stephanie I. Dijk, Ramsha Mahmood, Olamide Ogungbola, Juan Jovel, France Moreau, Hayley Gorman, Robyn Dickner, Jeremy Jerasi, Inderdeep K. Mander, Dawson Lafleur, Christopher Cheng, Alexandra Petrova, Terri-Lyn Jeanson, Andrew Mason, Consolato M. Sergi, Arie Levine, Kris Chadee, David Armstrong, Sarah Rauscher, Charles N. Bernstein, Matthew W. Carroll, Hien Q. Huynh, Jens Walter, Karen L. Madsen, Levinus A. Dieleman, Eytan Wine. Unfermented β-fructan fibers fuel inflammation in select inflammatory bowel disease patients. Gastroenterology, 2022; DOI: 10.1053/j.gastro.2022.09.034