High Fiber Foods for Constipation

by Sharon Hopkins


Constipation, described as infrequent or difficult bowel movement, is one of the most common gastrointestinal problems affecting people of all ages around the world. It is not a condition, but rather a symptom of a problem. For most, constipation is temporary, though there are many people who suffer from chronic constipation. Fortunately, in most instances, constipation can be controlled with a high fiber diet, adequate liquid intake and exercise.

If you are otherwise in good health, your doctor will probably advise you to consume high fiber foods for constipation. According to the American Dietetic Association, men between the ages of 19 and 50 should consume 38 grams of fiber per day. Women in the same age group should get at least 25 grams of fiber daily. Unfortunately, average Americans do not consume as much fiber as they should. You can increase your daily fiber intake by making a few dietary alterations to include healthy foods in your diet. This is because most foods with high fiber content are also loaded with vitamins and minerals. Moreover, these foods are usually low in calories and fat.

What are the best high fiber foods that can relieve constipation?

Before you try to increase your consumption of high fiber fords for constipation relief, it is important for you to understand that there are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber keeps the stool soft, by allowing it to hold more water. As a result, it can move more easily through your intestines. Insoluble fiber hastens the passage of the stool by adding bulk to the fecal material. Therefore, you need to make sure that you get both the types of fiber to keep your digestive system healthy.

When you are planning a new diet, make sure you include these fiber rich foods for constipation relief -

Fruits High in Fiber

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Oranges
  • Raspberries
  • Tangerines
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Figs
  • Grapefruit
  • Papaya
  • Prunes
  • Strawberries

Vegetables High in Fiber

  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Potatoes
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach

Legumes High in Fiber

  • Peas
  • Soy beans
  • Dry beans
  • Lentils

Grains High in Fiber

  • Whole-wheat bread
  • Brown rice
  • Bran
  • Oatmeal

Seeds and Nuts High in Fiber

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Peanuts

If you are constipated, make sure that you limit your intake of foods low in fiber. You could also check with your doctor for the exact fiber count on different types of foods.

Adding a large amount of fiber to your diet could lead to a few side effects like bloating, cramps and flatulence. However, once the natural bacteria in your system gets used to the fiber increase, these side effects should subside. To avoid these side effects, make sure that you add high fiber foods gradually, to your diet. If you do not experience any relief from constipation in spite of consuming foods with high fiber content, you could speak to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter laxative. For severe cases of constipation, your doctor may also suggest that you take an enema.

References

  1. Lembo AJ, et al. Constipation. In: Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6189-2.X0001-7--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-6189-2&about=true&uniqId=229935664-2192.
  2. Constipation. National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/constipation/
  3. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002470.htm
  4. http://healthymeals.nal.usda.gov/hsmrs/Montana/FiberFoodsList.pdf

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