Fiber and Constipation
Fiber comes in two different forms, there is soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber absorbs water where insoluble does not absorb water and is harder to break down. Soluble fiber is what you want to add into your diet to improve constipation and diarrhea. You will also want to add in some insoluble fiber to help with constipation only. Soluble fiber is found more in oats, lentils, and applesauce where insoluble is found more in fruits with skin and raw vegetables. Fiber and fluid are two things that can help relieve bloating and discomfort that you can feel from being constipated. Be sure that you add fiber in very slowly or else you can increase the discomfort that you are feeling. You should try to eat 25-35g fiber per day. Also increase your fluid intake or else you may worsen the constipation.
Tips for Adding Fiber to Your Eating Plan
- You may choose any foods, but try to find foods with whole grains.
- Slowly increase the amount of fiber you eat to 25 to 35 grams per day.
- Eat whole grain breads and cereals. Look for choices with 100% whole wheat, rye, oats, or bran as the first or second ingredient.
- Enjoy a variety of grains. Good choices include barley, oats, farro, kamut, and quinoa.
- Bake with whole wheat flour. You can use it to replace some white or all-purpose flour in recipes.
- Enjoy baked beans more often! Add dried beans and peas to casseroles or soups.
- Choose fresh fruit and vegetables instead of juices.
- Eat fruits and vegetables with peels or skins on.
- Compare food labels of similar foods to find higher-fiber choices. Packaged foods have the amount of fiber per serving listed on the Nutrition Facts label.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Set a goal of at least 8 cups per day. You may need to incorporate more fluids with higher amounts of fiber to help your body process it without discomfort.
- Quickly steam vegetables so that they remain colorful and crunchy.
- Add small amounts of wheat germ, wheat bran or rice bran to foods you cook.
- Try brown rice. One cup of brown rice has 3.5 grams of fiber compared to 1 cup of white rice, which has only 1 gram of fiber.
- Brown rice and many other grains taste best after they are “fluffed up.” Cook grains until tender, then gently stir with a fork. Uncover and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Consider using a rice cooker. It is an easy way to prepare rice.
- Add raisins, grated carrots, chopped apple or pear to salads, cereal, or bread and muffin recipes.
- Add a variety of grains to soups. Try barley, brown rice or whole wheat pasta.
Meaghan Edwards MS, RD/LD