Hard Stool Dietary Fiber
It is important to follow a healthy diet if you have constipation.
Dietary fiber is a plant material that humans cannot digest. Fiber absorbs water, which keeps the stool soft and promotes rapid passage of material through the intestines. This may reduce exposure to toxic substances and improve the health of the intestines. Fiber also binds fat and cholesterol, and reduces the risk for heart disease. As an added benefit, high fiber foods usually contain important vitamins and minerals.
Fiber comes in two forms, based on whether it will dissolve in water. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. About 3/4 of fiber in the diet should be the insoluble fiber.
Water Soluble Fiber
|Pectins, gums, & mucilages||fruits, vegetables, oats, bran, barley, legumes|
|Cellulose, hemicellulose||vegetables, wheat bran, & whole grains|
Use of a High Fiber Diet
A healthy diet should include more than 25 grams of fiber each day.
A high fiber diet can prevent and treat the following:
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Crohn's disease
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Ulcerative colitis
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are high in fiber, but peeling the skin from fruit and vegetables removes fiber. Dried fruits, beans, black-eyed peas, bran and oatmeal are high in fiber. Bran is the outer layer of the wheat grain.
Strategies for adding bran to the diet:
- Add 2-3 teaspoons of bran per serving, in order to increase the fiber content of casseroles, meat loaf, and baked goods.
- Use whole grain flour: it has 6 times the fiber of bleached flour.
- Use oat bran to replace of 1/3 of the flour in recipes.
- Use fiber supplements, such as Citrucel and Metamucil.
Change your diet slowly. Rapid changes in the diet can cause bloating, gas and diarrhea.
Example High-Fiber Diet
Eat 3 to 10 servings of whole grain food every day.
- Brown rice
- Oatmeal or oat bran
- Rye bread
- Wheat germ
- Whole grain bagels
- Whole grain breads
- Whole grain muffins
- Whole grain or bran cereals
- Whole grain pita bread
- Whole wheat crackers
- Whole wheat pasta
Eat 3-4 servings of fruit each day.
Eat at least 3-5 servings of raw, unpeeled vegetables per day.
- Green beans
- Green pepper
- Potatoes with skin
- Snow peas
- Sweet potatoes
Meat has no fiber, and contains cholesterol and saturated fat. Many high-fiber foods can replace meat in the diet.
- Brazil nuts
- Garbanzo beans
- Kidney beans
- Lima beans
- Peanut butter
- Pinto beans
- Sesame seeds
- Soybeans, but not tofu
- Split peas
- Sunflower seeds
- Veggie burgers
Continue to Hard Stool Enemas
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- Brandt LJ, Prather CM, Quigley EM, Schiller LR, Schoenfeld P, Talley NJ. Systematic review on the management of chronic constipation in North America. Am J Gastroenterol. 2005;100 Suppl 1:S5-S21. 
- Clayden G, Keshtgar AS. Management of childhood constipation. Postgrad Med J. 2003 Nov;79(937):616-21. 
- Lembo A, Camilleri M. Chronic constipation. N Engl J Med. 2003 Oct 2;349(14):1360-8.