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Constipation – Is a High-Fiber Diet Enough?

The definition of constipation is three or less bowel movements each week, or by having hardened, dried stool that can be difficult to pass.

Millions of Americans suffer from constipation each year. In fact, nearly 15% of the country. The leading cause of this condition is a diet low in fiber, which helps keep movements healthy and regular. If feeling constipated, a high fiber diet should be considered as the best place to start self-treatment. If a diet high in fiber has been ineffective in treating constipation, it may be time to try other methods.Constipation – Is a High-Fiber Diet Enough?

Drink Lots of Water

Fiber is thirsty and when the body is well hydrated it will absorb quite a lot of water to soften and swell up. The expanded fiber moves along the alimentary canal acting like a brush, cleaning out the walls as it moves.

When the body is dehydrated it will seek water from other bodily organs, including the intestines. The body will rob the water that fiber would have used to digest properly. This will leave the stool dry and shrunken, making it ineffective at passing optimally.

Everyone requires a different amount of fluid each day to remain hydrated, but as a simple guide people should consume 64 oz. or more of water each day. Some herbal teas and non-caloric beverages can be included as well.

Fish Oil and Gut Lubrication

After a high fiber diet and proper hydration has been attained, adding some fish oils into the diet can be effective with treating constipation. They contain omega-3 fatty acids that, according to nutritionist Yuri Elkaim, add lubrication to intestines and help waste pass through with less resistance. The following fish are excellent sources of omega-3 oils:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Herring
  • Halibut

Constipation – Is a High-Fiber Diet Enough?Fish are rich with the fatty acid, but there are other foods that contain them as well. Flax oil and hemp oil are common oil substitutes, both of which can be purchased in liquid or pill form. Soybeans, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds all contain the precious oil as well.

Keep to a Schedule

Daily eating patterns can have just as much of an effect on constipation as the food choices we make. Your body works better when a regular schedule is kept, so try to eat meals at the same time every day.

Plan on being in the bathroom around the same time each day and try not to rush the process. Stress won’t help end constipation. If the urge to have a bowel movement presents itself, do not ignore it. Take the opportunity immediately or risk losing it and remaining constipated.

Laxatives Are a Last Resort

Many people will find relief with the above recommendations. If these do not work, a doctor may approve of the use of a laxative. Laxatives can provided a quick solution to constipation, but rarely address the underlying cause. This makes laxatives a poor choice for long-term, chronic constipation.

When choosing a laxative, consider one that is “bulk-forming” as it works in tandem with the body’s normal process by adding mass and water to the stool.

Stimulants work by activating the muscles responsible for moving the waste along. Stool softeners attempt to move existing stool along by loosening it by adding moisture. These types of laxatives can be dangerous as the body can become dependent on them. Only use a laxative with a doctor’s consent.

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*The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the Editor. Results may vary from person to person and cannot be guaranteed.

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