Diet Recommendations for Constipation:
- Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Seek high fiber foods such as broccoli, beans, hummus or chick peas, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, prunes, figs, apples, berries, pears, and citrus. Choose fruit juice that contains fiber or pulp. Not only are they helpful for bowel health but also a good source of energy food and protective antioxidants.
- Dried fruits such as prunes and apricots are especially helpful
- Aim for 30 g of fiber daily. In addition to fruits (guava, blackberries, raspberries and pears are especially high in fiber) and vegetables (beans, corn, peas and lentils are high in fiber), add high fiber or bran cereals and breads, foods made from wheat, rye, oat or barley flours instead of refined or white flour breads and cereals.
Read the labels on all ingredients. Added whole grain does not mean high fiber. Search for bread with 5-6 grams fiber per slice.
Limit low fiber, high fat foods. Examples would be cheese, eggs, high fat meat, fried or fatty foods.
Choose complex carbohydrates found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains over simple sugars and processed foods.
- Drink plenty of water. This is especially important if you have low blood pressure or take fiber supplements
- - Drink caffeinated warm beverages with meals especially early in the day to prevent sleep problems. Avoid carbonated beverages if bloating is a problem.
- Yogurt adds beneficial bacteria for colon health and is a good source of protein and calcium. Bran, nuts, and oats can be added for fiber.
-See recipe page for fruit paste and other high fiber foods.
Try to maintain good posture with exercise.
Take the time to use the bathroom. Do not rush or strain. Set a side time every day to establish a habit.
- Exercise walk daily if possible. PT can help you get started.
Medicine and Supplements for Constipation:
- Fiber supplements. Not all fiber supplements are alike and it may take trial and error to find the one for you. Psyllium (Metamucil) and methylcellulose (Citrocel), and guar gum are natural plant fibers. Calcium polycarbophil(FiberCon) is a synthetic nonnatural fiber. All are soluble fibers that act like sponges to soak up water in your intestines. They add bulk to stool but must be taken with 1-2 cups of water to avoid obstructing your colon. They also slow absorption of sugars and fats which is helpful for blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
- Stool softeners once or twice a day can help, i.e. dulcolax. Stool Softener with stimulant if moderate to severe constipation.
- Glycolax powder (Miralax) can be purchased over the counter and is very effective with little side effects and can be used daily if needed.
- Once daily supplements such as fish oil, flax seed oil, and magnesium (should not be taken if you have kidney disease).
- Ground flax seed adds helpful fiber, antioxidants and a source of healthy omega 3 fats.
- Senna tea can be helpful but may one must be careful with extra sodium
- Dried ginger helps stimulate stomach and intestinal activity.
Ask your doctor about medicines that can worsen constipation such as anticholinergics, amantadine, amitriptyline, and sedatives.
A gastroenterologist is a specialist that treats constipation.
Botulinum toxin injections can be helpful in specific cases of pelvic floor muscle dystonia, a condition that can cause difficulty in elimination.
Occupational therapy can help establish a bowel routine or regimen.
Ask your doctor for a nutritional consult to help with diet.