Low Residue Diet: 3 Amazing Facts To Know

Low residue diet is a special kind of diet and is not followed by everyone. One can only follow a low-residue diet1 in special conditions. Here we would look at the low residue diet, the cases in which one should follow, what one can eat and restrict in it, and explore as much we can say about it.

Let’s discuss the surprising facts you should know about a low-residue diet.

A low-residue diet is a kind of diet that focuses on the residue left in our digestive tract. The diet is suggested for patients with some particular health problems and achieves certain health benefits by emphasizing the digestive process.

1. What is a Low Residue Diet

A low-residue diet is a diet in which the focus is on minimizing the stool collected in our large intestine in the digestive process. Let’s understand this in simple words.

When we eat something or complete our meal, our food goes under the digestive process in the digestive system of our body, which includes organs like the stomach, large intestine, small intestine, are the main organs and organs like the pancreas, gall bladder, and liver through their digestive juices, and secretive fluids help in the digestion.

In indigestion, the food we eat is broken down into smaller and smaller parts and finally absorbed and assimilated by the body to acquire the nutrients. After the assimilation of the nutrients2 by the body, a residue is left behind in the small intestine thrown or excreted out by the anus in the form of stool.

This residue is mainly composed of fiber which is a nutrient not fully absorbed by the body. We can also say that fiber’s main function is to make the digestive system healthy and prevent the problem of constipation.

In a low-residue diet, the diet is planned to have less fiber and so little residue will be left behind during the digestion process. In low residue, the digestive tract’s time to digest food increases, and the food takes a long time to digest or travel through the digestive system than usual.

This would reduce the residue left behind in the body and reduce the stool that has to be excreted out. And meanwhile, in this slow digestion process, nutrients other than fiber get completely absorbed and assimilated by the small intestine and acquired by the body.

Because of the low amount of fiber to be taken, a low-residue diet is also called the low–fiber diet3. It should also be kept in mind that a low-residue diet is a special diet that is only suggested in special health circumstances and by doctors.

It is not for the ordinary cases when someone wants to lose weight or calories, or something like that. Specialists suggest a low residue diet in special conditions only and for short periods only, not for long or a lifetime.

2. When to Follow Low Residue Diet

As we have discussed above, a low-residue diet is a special diet and is to be followed under certain health conditions only. A low-residue diet is advised to minimize or reduce bowel activities.

The bowel is the intestine. As the main process of digestion and absorption of food is carried out in the large intestine, when they are injured or unable to perform well, a low-residue diet is suggested.

A low-residue diet is advised in case of inflammatory bowel diseases when we have to prevent our intestines from the high pressure of the digestion process and provide them sufficient time to heal.

Following are some of the cases in which a low residue diet is advised,

2.1 In Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease 4in which the digestive tract is damaged, and one has to take care of the digestive system. In this case, the doctor advises following a low-residue diet to give the digestive tract time for healing.

2.2 In Ulcerative Colitis

In this case, one develops an ulcer in the large intestine because of the inflammation in the digestive tract, causing inflammatory bowel disease irritation in the digestive tract.

In this case, specialists also advise starting to take a low-residue diet to get some relief from inflammatory bowel diseases.

2.3 To Prepare for Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is a kind of surgery in which the colon has to undergo a surgical process. And as the colon is a part of the digestive system, and for the preparation of surgery, it is necessary to reduce the amount of stool, a low residue diet is advised for the patients.

2.4 In Quick Recovery from Bowel Surgery

In bowel surgery, the doctor always puts the patients on a low-residue diet, reduces the digestive system’s pressure, and reduces the residue left behind, which has to be excreted out as stool.

2.5 In Prevention from Abdominal Pain

It happens quite a couple of times when people complain about abdominal pain because sometimes stimulating the bowel causes bowel movements or bowel activities, which causes abdominal pain.

In that case, also specialists advise following a low-residue diet to prevent abdominal pain.

These are the special cases in which doctors or gastroenterologists advise to follow a low residue diet, which is a low fiber diet and helps with inflammatory bowel diseases. Fiber diets are certainly beneficial.

But it should always be kept in mind that this is a special kind of diet, in which one has to restrict some foods from and diet and has to include some, and sometimes this would result in a deficiency of some nutrients.

3. What Foods to Eat and Leave-In Low Residue Diet

In the low-residue diet, there are some food items that the person has to restrict and some food has to include. All the food items that are low in fiber are included, and food items having high fiber are excluded from the diet.

But the diet below is a general low-residue diet that anyone can follow, but only after consulting the doctor. Only a specialist can guide you on a perfect low-residue diet according to your health conditions and the diet’s purpose.

3.1. Foods to Include in Low Residue Diet

  • In a low-residue diet, we can include products made from refined carbohydrates5 like white bread, white rice, refined cereals, pasta, and any other food item that has refined carbohydrates.
  • Next to food items, we can include juices, broths, and strained soups, made especially for the diet.
  • Cooked vegetables, no skins or seeds, pumpkin, green beans, spinach, asparagus, beets, carrots, and potatoes are good carbohydrates.
  • Some fruits like apricot, bananas, watermelon, papayas, plums, and peaches can also be included in this diet.
  • Other foods could be butter, vegetable oils, finely ground or cooked meat, fish, milk products, and eggs, which are good sources of protein.

These foods are rich in different nutrients. Thus, this type of diet helps you get energy as well.

3.2. Foods to Avoid in Low Residue Diet

The food items that have to be avoided in the diet are legumes, seeds, nuts, unprocessed coconut, figs, prunes, dried fruits, berries, caffeine, chocolate, and spicy food. All these food items should be restricted in the diet.

Apart from the food items, the method of cooking is also important. In the diet, the focus is on the slow digestion process, and in that hard foods cooked by grilling, roasting is not useful. So food has to be cooked by steaming, simmering, microwaving, and the cooking methods by which food becomes soft and easy to digest.

With this, one has to ensure a sufficient amount of fluid to consume because a lack of fiber can result in constipation, and enough fluids can help.

We should also take care of the nutrients that we would lack by avoiding food items in our diet. With a low-residue diet, one can face a deficiency of folic acid, and vitamin C, and for that, some supplements can be taken.

And that is why it is important to consult specialists while following a low-residue diet to guide you on the proper diet and what food to eat, and what to leave in the diet.

4. Conclusion

A low-residue diet is a diet in which the focus is laid on eating low-fiber foods that would not pressure our digestive system, reduce the residue left behind after the digestion process, and reduce the stool that has to be excreted out.

In this diet, the digestion process is slow and makes the intestine and body absorb and assimilate the nutrients completely. But the diet is not for everyone, and only in special cases, people are advised to follow the low-residue diet.

Only the people who are suffering from any inflammatory bowel disease are advised to follow the diet, but also for a short period because, in the long run, the diet can make the person deficient in some nutrients, and that is why the person is advised to take supplements of that nutrient.

Following a low-residue diet and diet limits will surely give you the desired result and uncountable benefits.

  1. Vanhauwaert, Erika, et al. “Low-residue and low-fiber diets in gastrointestinal disease management.” Advances in Nutrition 6.6 (2015): 820-827. ↩︎
  2. Knowles, Frank, and J. E. Watkin. “The assimilation and translocation of plant nutrients in wheat during growth.” The Journal of Agricultural Science 21.4 (1931): 612-637. ↩︎
  3. Bailén, María, et al. “Microbiota features associated with a high-fat/low-fiber diet in healthy adults.” Frontiers in nutrition 7 (2020): 583608.-residue and low-fiber diets in gastrointestinal disease management.” Advances in Nutrition 6.6 (2015): 820-827. ↩︎
  4. Strober, Warren, Ivan Fuss, and Peter Mannon. “The fundamental basis of inflammatory bowel disease.” The Journal of clinical investigation 117.3 (2007): 514-521. ↩︎
  5. Gross, Lee S., et al. “Increased consumption of refined carbohydrates and the epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the United States: an ecologic assessment.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 79.5 (2004): 774-779. ↩︎

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