Low-residue and low-fiber diets in gastrointestinal disease management

Adv Nutr. 2015 Nov 13;6(6):820-7. doi: 10.3945/an.115.009688. Print 2015 Nov.


Recently, low-residue diets were removed from the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Nutrition Care Manual due to the lack of a scientifically accepted quantitative definition and the unavailability of a method to estimate the amount of food residue produced. This narrative review focuses on defining the similarities and/or discrepancies between low-residue and low-fiber diets and on the diagnostic and therapeutic values of these diets in gastrointestinal disease management. Diagnostically, a low-fiber/low-residue diet is used in bowel preparation. A bowel preparation is a cleansing of the intestines of fecal matter and secretions conducted before a diagnostic procedure. Therapeutically, a low-fiber/low-residue diet is part of the treatment of acute relapses in different bowel diseases. The available evidence on low-residue and low-fiber diets is summarized. The main findings showed that within human disease research, the terms "low residue" and "low fiber" are used interchangeably, and information related to the quantity of residue in the diet usually refers to the amount of fiber. Low-fiber/low-residue diets are further explored in both diagnostic and therapeutic situations. On the basis of this literature review, the authors suggest redefining a low-residue diet as a low-fiber diet and to quantitatively define a low-fiber diet as a diet with a maximum of 10 g fiber/d. A low-fiber diet instead of a low-residue diet is recommended as a diagnostic value or as specific therapy for gastrointestinal conditions.

Keywords: bowel preparation; dietary intake; fiber; gastrointestinal disorders; low-fiber diet; low-residue diet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Colonoscopy / methods
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Digestion
  • Feces
  • Fermentation
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diet therapy*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology
  • Humans