Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Constipation: The Fiber Factor


If you are one of millions who reach for over-the-counter laxatives for constipation, you should know that that there is a better way. Eating the right foods could put an end to constipation and start you off on the right foot to having regular bowel movements.

Recommended Fiber Intake

Reducing constipation may be as easy as adding more fiber-rich foods to your daily diet. According to the Institute of Medicine, adults should consume 14 g of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed. For a woman, that would be about 28 g of fiber if you consume 2,000 calories per day. If you are a man and you consume 2,500 calories per day, you will need 35 g of fiber to satisfy the recommendation.


Fiber helps to prevent constipation by forming a gel, which binds waste, keeps the stool soft, increases bulk and stimulates action to speed the waste through your gut and out of your body.


If your diet is low in fiber, you are likely to have few and irregular bowel movements that are hard to pass, causing a great deal of strain. This situation can cause an unhealthy dependence on laxatives.


To reduce your dependence on laxatives, eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains along with nuts, seeds, beans and peas. Start today by treating yourself to a fiber-rich breakfast of oatmeal with raisins and milk. Then have an apple and an ounce of walnuts for snack. Add beans or peas to your lunch menu, and treat yourself to a large salad at dinner. Be sure to drink plenty of water when increasing the fiber in your diet. This will help to ensure that your stool stays soft and easy to move.


In some cases, constipation may be a sign of more serious health problems, or impaction that needs direct medical intervention. See your doctor if you think your condition is more than the run of the mill constipation. For help with planning your high-fiber diet, talk to a registered dietitian.

More About Fiber and Constipation


For answers to questions about food, nutrition, diet, weight loss and health-related conditions, talk to a registered dietitian. Go to to find a registered dietitian. Registered dietitians are the healthcare professionals most trained and experienced to help you with your food and nutrition questions.