🌟 Now accepting insurance! Get started



Why you should consume dietary fiber with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

Why you should consume dietary fiber with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

Updated on
November 12, 2023
Medical reviewer
Medically reviewed by
Brittany Rogers, MS, RDN
hand with heart icon
Written by
Romanwell Dietitians

You’ve probably heard conflicting messages about whether dietary fiber is good or bad for your Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. The truth is that dietary fiber is an important component to a well-rounded anti-inflammatory diet and is associated with improved outcomes in patients with IBD.

In this post, we unpack what the research says about the importance of dietary fiber for people with Crohn’s and colitis and share some tips to improve tolerance to these foods if they cause symptoms for you.

What is dietary fiber?

Dietary fiber, also known as roughage, is a part of plant-based foods that cannot be completely broken down by your digestive system. This fiber passes through your stomach and intestines relatively intact and adds bulk to your stool before exiting your body. Dietary fiber is commonly found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. 

Researchers believe that consumption of dietary fiber may promote the growth of good gut bacteria while diets low in dietary fiber may contribute to the growth of bad gut bacteria which may contribute to inflammation.

Is dietary fiber good for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis?

Current dietary guidelines for IBD recommend that people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis consume at least the same, if not more, dietary fiber than the general population (about 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories consumed).

In fact, according to a recent study, people with Crohn’s disease who consumed more high fiber foods were 40% less likely to flare than those who avoided high fiber foods. Another study found that J-pouch patients who consumed more fruit in their diet were less likely to develop pouchitis than those who consumed less fruit.

But what should you do if certain fiber-containing foods trigger your symptoms?


Tips to improve tolerance to dietary fiber

Dietary fiber is considered anti-inflammatory, but many people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis still experience symptoms when consuming certain high-fiber foods. 

When we talk about symptoms and inflammation, it’s important to remember that symptoms are poorly correlated with inflammation. It’s possible to experience symptoms without inflammation and to have inflammation without experiencing symptoms. 

Because dietary fiber is anti-inflammatory and consumption is recommended for people with IBD, we like to focus on helping people improve their tolerance to fiber so that they can meet their daily intake requirements without causing symptoms. 

Here are 3 ways to improve your tolerance to fiber:

1. Adjust the type of fiber

Choose foods higher in soluble fiber instead of foods high in insoluble fiber. A good rule of thumb is that if the food would dissolve in water relatively easily, it’s probably higher in soluble fiber. Some examples of foods rich in soluble fiber include raspberries, zucchini, squash, and bananas.

2. Adjust the texture of fiber

The texture of a food containing fiber also greatly impacts tolerance. Choose soft and smooth fibrous foods such as smooth nut butters instead of raw nuts, or a smoothie instead of a salad. Blending, cooking, or pureeing fibrous foods may also help improve tolerance while still allowing you to consume and enjoy the food.

3. Adjust the amount of fiber

If you’re not consuming a lot of fiber right now, consider slowly adding fiber to your diet over time instead of adding in a lot all at once. Adding too much fiber at once can lead to an increase in symptoms. 

What to do if you have stricturing Crohn’s disease

If you have stricturing Crohn’s disease, you should always talk to your IBD care team (your gastroenterologist and IBD registered dietitian) before increasing your fiber intake to learn how much fiber is appropriate for you. 

How to get support with your diet

If you’re not currently consuming a lot of fiber in your diet or you’re not sure how to reintroduce certain foods without triggering symptoms, working with an IBD registered dietitian can help.

Our team of IBD-focused registered dietitians are specialists in helping people with Crohn’s and colitis expand their diets without triggering symptoms. Reach out to request a free consultation to learn if our one-on-one nutrition counseling program is right for you.


We can help you reduce your symptoms without a restrictive diet
Pay as little as $0 per appointment with insurance
brittany rogers rd


  1. Levine A, Rhodes JM, Lindsay JO, Abreu MT, Kamm MA, Gibson PR, Gasche C, Silverberg MS, Mahadevan U, Boneh RS, Wine E, Damas OM, Syme G, Trakman GL, Yao CK, Stockhamer S, Hammami MB, Garces LC, Rogler G, Koutroubakis IE, Ananthakrishnan AN, McKeever L, Lewis JD. Dietary Guidance From the International Organization for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 May;18(6):1381-1392. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2020.01.046. Epub 2020 Feb 15. PMID: 32068150.
  2. Desai MS, Seekatz AM, Koropatkin NM, Kamada N, Hickey CA, Wolter M, Pudlo NA, Kitamoto S, Terrapon N, Muller A, Young VB, Henrissat B, Wilmes P, Stappenbeck TS, Núñez G, Martens EC. A Dietary Fiber-Deprived Gut Microbiota Degrades the Colonic Mucus Barrier and Enhances Pathogen Susceptibility. Cell. 2016 Nov 17;167(5):1339-1353.e21. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.10.043. PMID: 27863247; PMCID: PMC5131798.
  3. Brotherton CS, Martin CA, Long MD, Kappelman MD, Sandler RS. Avoidance of Fiber Is Associated With Greater Risk of Crohn's Disease Flare in a 6-Month Period. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016 Aug;14(8):1130-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2015.12.029. Epub 2015 Dec 31. PMID: 26748217; PMCID: PMC4930425.
  4. Godny L, Maharshak N, Reshef L, Goren I, Yahav L, Fliss-Isakov N, Gophna U, Tulchinsky H, Dotan I. Fruit Consumption is Associated with Alterations in Microbial Composition and Lower Rates of Pouchitis. J Crohns Colitis. 2019 Sep 27;13(10):1265-1272. doi: 10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjz053. PMID: 30828722.

Download our Flare Fighter Recipe Book

IBD friendly recipe book - Romanwell

Free Recipe Book for IBD

  • Flare-friendly recipes that tend to be well tolerated by most
  • Quick, simple, and delicious meals
  • Ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert
  • Written by the IBD dietitians at Romanwell

Download our free IBD Starter Kit

IBD starter kit Romanwell

An essential self-advocacy guide for IBD

  • Essential vocabulary to know
  • Who should be on your IBD care team & questions to ask them
  • Nutrition-related labs & how to request them
  • When to ask for a referral and to whom

Work with an IBD dietitian

Schedule a call to start working with a Romanwell IBD dietitian today

Get started

Sign up for our newsletter

Ready to get started?

Schedule a call to start working with one of our IBD dietitians today

Get started