Can I Prevent Bowel Problems?

    Many women find that diet changes help them to control bowel problems. For both fecal incontinence and constipation, No. 1 diet to do is FIBER UP. Fiber is very helpful for many bowel problems for different reasons. It helps draw water into the stool, making the stool a soft, formed mass that are more easily held in the rectum than watery stool. Aim for 25 to 30 grams fiber per day.

    Fecal Incontinence

    Fiber supplementation (with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, or high fiber cereals) or over the counter fiber supplements can help make stools more formed, resulting in more complete passage during bowel movements and improved evacuation of stools. 

    Some women find that eating at regular times helps to regulate bowels.  Also, small, frequent meals may help food move more easily through your gastrointestinal tract. In additon, women with FI benefit form avoiding spicy foods or stimulants such as caffeine, which speed up transit time in the bowel.

    In addition, you may find it helpful to reduce intake of artificial sweeteners (sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol), which can induce diarrhea.  

    Constipation

    Increasing dietary fiber is the most common way of treating constipation. Eating high fiber foods (with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, or high fiber cereals) and over the counter fiber supplements can sometimes help make stools more formed, softer, and more frequent. Avoiding starchy low fiber foods such as white rice, pasta, or white bread can help also.

    In addition, foods that contain indigestible carbohydrates and other compounds are natural laxatives. These foods may help relieve symptoms of constipation:

    • Vegetables, e.g. cabbage
    • Dried fruits such as figs and prunes
    • Fruits with rough seeds like raspberries
    • Whole grains including brown bread and oatmeal

     

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