Dietary fiber and bowel function in tube-fed patients

David Frankenfield, P. L. Beyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

In tube-fed patients, dietary fiber is often used to manage constipation/diarrhea. Dietary fiber consists of water-soluble and insoluble plant compounds that are resistant to digestion by small-bowel enzymes but are fermented to varying degrees by colonic bacteria. Many physiologic effects of fiber may be related to the degree of fermentation. Few controlled studies of fiber-containing tube feedings have been performed. These studies have limitations and are nondefinitive as to whether fiber prevents or controls constipation/diarrhea. Constipation in tube-fed patients has not been shown to respond to mixed soluble/insoluble fiber in the few studies performed to date. Likewise, fiber may be of only limited benefit in controlling diarrhea in acute illness because of such factors as stress or medication. Fiber does play a role in maintaining gut integrity in all patients, whether they have diarrhea or not. Fiber may be recommended as part of a standard tube-feeding regimen to help assure gut mucosal integrity but not specifically to treat constipation/diarrhea. Further studies are necessary before the role of fiber in the management of constipation/diarrhea in tube-fed patients is determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Volume91
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Medicine(all)

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