Managing Constipation with Fiber and Fluid intake
Eating foods that are high in fiber can help relieve constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. A high-fiber diet can provide long-term health benefits. Here are some tips to help easily add fibers to your diet.
Making small changes to your diet over a period of time can help prevent bloating, cramping, or gas. Start with one of the changes listed below, then wait several days to a week before making another. If one change doesn’t seem to work for you, try a different one. You may have some gas or bloating at first, but your body will adjust with time.
Tips for Increasing Fiber
- Begin your day with a high-fiber breakfast. Oatmeal with fresh berries, chia seeds or ground flax seeds is a good place to start. Check the labels on the packages for the amounts of dietary fiber in each brand.
- Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Some that are high in fiber include:
Apples, Oranges, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Berries, Pears, Raspberries, Green peas, Prunes, Carrots, Beans, Brussel sprouts
- Include fruits and vegetables with every meal. Use carrot sticks or apple slices for snacks.
- Cooked fiber is just as effective as raw fiber, so incorporate high-fiber foods in your cooking.
- When preparing food, leave edible skins and seeds, and use whole-grain flours.
- Serve fruit-based deserts.
- Replace white bread with whole-grain breads. Eat brown rice instead of white rice.
- Eat more of the following foods:
Bran muffins, Oatmeal, chia seeds, flax seed, Brown rice, Popcorn, 100% whole-wheat bread, breads made from sprouted or fermented grains.
- Incorporate a mixture of soluble and insoluble fibers into your diet.
- Soluble fibers dissolve partially in water to form a gel-like, soft texture. Examples include oatmeal, nuts, seeds, legumes, apples, pears, and berries.
- Insoluble fibers do not dissolve in water. Examples include whole grains, barley, brown rice, bulgur wheat, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, and root veggies.
Fiber paired with adequate fluid intake (see below) helps your digestive tract move and function properly. Women should aim for at least 21-35 grams of fiber a day while men should aim for 30-38 grams a day. Below reviews the amount of fiber found in some common foods. You should avoid looking to processed foods for your fiber content and find it from whole foods. However, when buying packaged food, check the Nutrition Facts label for fiber content as it can vary among brands.
|Fruits||Serving Size||Total Fiber (in grams)|
|Pear||1 medium sized||5.5|
|Apple, with skin||1 medium sized||4.5|
|Banana||1 medium sized||3.0|
|Orange||1 medium sized||3.0|
|Vegetables||Serving Size||Total Fiber (in grams)|
|Green peas, boiled||1 cup||9.0|
|Broccoli, boiled||1 cup, chopped||5.0|
|Turnip greens, boiled||1 cup||5.0|
|Brussels sprouts, boiled||1 cup||4.0|
|Potato, with skin, boiled||1 medium sized||4.0|
|Sweet corn, boiled||1 cup||3.5|
|Cauliflower, raw||1 cup, chopped||2.0|
|Carrot, raw||1 medium sized||1.5|
It’s important to drink more fluids when you increase the amount of fiber that you eat. If you don’t already drink over 6 glasses of water a day, drink at least 2 more glasses of water every day when you increase your fiber intake.
Another goal is to consume the amount of water equal to half of your body weight in ounces.
If you still suffer from constipation after the addition of fiber and uptake of water, talk to your health care provider about fiber laxatives. Psyllium is a soluble fiber that is often used for this purpose. It can be taken in a tablet form or as a powder that is mixed in a glass of water. Always read and follow the directions on the label carefully. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist if you have any concerns about fiber.
Diet and water intake are just a part of improving bowel health, stay tuned as we discuss more ways to improve your gut health, through easy lifestyle factors. We always offer a free 15 minute consultation with our specialists in pelvic health to help you determine if pelvic floor physical therapy might be helpful to you.