Fiber may help prevent and relieve constipation, and make stools easier to pass. People with constipation may need to include more fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, in their diet.
Constipation affects around
Symptoms of constipation include:
- having hard stools that are difficult to pass
- having fewer than three bowel movements a week
- feeling like not all stool has passed
People may experience constipation for a number of reasons, including diet patterns and certain health problems.
This article examines the relationship between fiber and constipation. It also lists some high fiber foods to eat and other types of food to limit. Finally, it provides tips for relieving constipation and discusses when someone should see a doctor.
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According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people should eat about
The fiber from plant foods ferments in the gut to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These acids
Additionally, SCFAs may help to regulate the gut-brain axis, which
According to a
They also noted that the European guidelines and the American College of Gastroenterology position paper recommend fiber, mainly the soluble fiber, for managing chronic constipation. The study explains that soluble fiber acts as a prebiotic, increasing SCFAs, and forms gels with water to help regulate the consistency of stools.
However, the review notes that because fiber retains water, a person should make sure to keep hydrated by drinking at least 8 glasses of fluid daily to enable the laxative effects of fiber.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) recommends
The following foods are good
|Whole grains||whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta, brown rice, oats, oat bran, popcorn, spelt, bulgur, quinoa, barley, shredded wheat, and unsweetened granolas|
|Vegetables||artichokes, pumpkins, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, broccoli, leafy greens, carrots, and mushrooms|
|Beans||navy beans, yellow beans, adzuki beans, black beans, and garbanzo beans|
|Fruits||guava, raspberries, blueberries, kiwifruit, apricots, pear, apples, oranges, and passion fruit|
|Nuts||walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, pistachio, almond, Brazil nuts, and pine nuts|
|Seeds||sunflower, pumpkin, flax, hemp, and chia seeds|
In addition, people may wish to purchase fiber supplements over the counter. However, a person should speak with a healthcare professional before taking any supplements.
According to the
- high fat foods
- processed foods, fast food, and some microwaveable dinners
- processed meats
- dairy products
- foods and drinks with added sugar
The following are tips that
- eating more fiber
- drinking plenty of fluids
- doing regular physical activity
- trying to have a bowel movement at the same time each day
- putting the feet on a footstool to relax the muscles when trying to have a bowel movement
- changing medications that may be causing constipation with a doctor’s guidance
- speaking with a healthcare professional about over-the-counter medicines or supplements that may help
People should contact a doctor if their bowel habits change and are accompanied by any one of the
- bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stool
- severe stomach pains or trapped gas
- unexplained weight loss
- lower back pain
A person should also consider speaking with a healthcare professional if their constipation persists with dietary changes and exercise.
Eating a fiber-rich diet may help relieve constipation and make stools easier to pass. A healthcare professional may recommend including more whole grains, vegetables, and beans in the diet and drinking plenty of liquids. They may also recommend regular physical activity, bowel training, or changing medications causing constipation.
If someone has symptoms such as blood in the stool, severe stomach pain, or vomiting in addition to constipation, or experiences no relief through dietary changes and exercise, they should contact their doctor.