Dietary Fiber and Constipation

It is normal to have one to two soft, formed easily to expel bowel movements a day, without the effort of straining too hard. It is not normal to miss moving one’s bowl a day.
An individual is constipated if the stool is dry and hard, experiences difficulty and straining on passing out a stool and had irregular bowel movements.

One of the factors affecting bowel movements is dietary fibre intake.
If there is adequate fibre in the diet, the fibre mixes and adds bulk to the stool.
Each tiny particle of the fibre soaks up available liquid and enlarges into a minute gel bead.
These tiny particles provide the stool size, shape and moisture, which make it easy for the colon to move along and expel the fecal matter.
To achieve healthy bowel movement, sufficient water should also be observed.  There should be adequate water for absorption and adequate lubrication along the lining of the colon.

With low fibre included in the diet, constipation is most likely to happen.
Fibre may be soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fibre dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance that slows down digestion.
It helps delay the emptying of the stomach and makes one feel full that eventually controls increase in weight.
Insoluble fibre,on the other hand, is considered gut-healthy fibre due to its laxative effect.
It adds bulk to the diet thereby preventing constipation.
This fibre does not dissolve in water, but it tends to pass through the gastrointestinal tract to speed up the passage of food and waste through the intestine.
Insufficient fibre in the diet definitely causes constipation.

Low fibre diet also plays a major role in constipation, especially among the elderly.  Older adults most often lack interest in eating and tend to choose fast foods that are low in fibre.
Some factors, such as loss of teeth may also force the elderly to eat softer foods that are processed and low in fibre.

A dietary regimen should contain enough fibre, amounting to 20 to 35 grams per day.
This amount can help form a soft, bulky stool.
A doctor or dietitian can be a great help in planning an appropriate high-fibre diet.
It is best to consult them for well-balanced meals.

Foods that are high in fibre include whole grains, bran cereals, beans, fresh fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, asparagus, apple, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, grapes and prune.

If an individual is already suffering from constipation, he should limit the intake of processed foods and dairy products such as milk, cheese and ice cream.
These foods contain high fat but very low fibre.

These are the top twenty foods that are known in high-fibre content.

Bran cereals, Dried beans, legumes and peas, Fresh and frozen green peas, Dried figs, apricot and dates, Raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, Fresh of frozen lima beans, Sweet corn, Whole wheat and whole-grain cereal products, Broccoli, Bananas, Coconut, Brussels sprouts, Cherries, Baked potato with skin, Green snap beans, pole beans and broad beans, Plums, pears and apples, Prunes and raisins, Spinach, kale, and turnip greens, Nuts, such as peanuts and walnuts, Carrots

These foods can be combined in a meal plan to ensure sufficient intake of fibre.  Sufficient fibre in the dietary regimen lessens the possibility of having constipation.

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