Will Fiber help my Constipation?
Fiber for constipation relief is often recommended when we talk to our doctor about being constipated. The doctor tells us to increase fiber as a solution. While so much better advice that prescribing a laxative like Miralax (Miralax caused many serious side effects in my son, click on the link for more on our story with Miralax Is Miralax Safe to Give to My Child?) Fiber can actually worsen constipation.
Fiber for constipation relief can make constipation worse
I posted a poll asking readers if adding fiber supplements helped their constipation or worsened it. I suspected that fiber would make it worse in a percentage of readers, but was honestly surprised that well over 50% of the respondents reported that fiber made their constipation worse.
But the readers who reported that fiber helped them, said that adding fiber made a huge difference and helped them so much. So we need to look closely at fiber, how it works in the digestive system and evaluate whether you should try it.
Types of Fiber
There are two types of fiber. Soluble and Insoluble. Soluble fiber draws in water to the stool and makes the stool softer and easier to pass. Insoluble fiber bulks up the stool and can help it pass through the intestines. Fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds are all great sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
How to Increase Your Fiber Intake for Constipation Relief
It can be tricky, especially with a less than ideal diet, to get enough dietary fiber for constipation relief. An adult woman needs 25 grams of fiber and an adult man needs 38 grams of fiber.
A half cup of cooked veggies have 2-4 grams and a small piece of fruit has about 3 grams of fiber. If you are gluten-free, most gluten-free baked goods are lower in fiber than the wheat flour versions because gluten-free flours are often filled with starches which are low in fiber.
Fiber supplements are one option to get more fiber Fiber for constipation relief.
SmartyPants Adult Complete Vitamin and Fiber Gummies (Click on Link to see the current price on Amazon) are a good option if you want to try a supplement. A 6 Gummie serving has 6 grams of soluble prebiotic fiber. Prebiotic fiber feeds gut bacteria so having probiotics is very important. I like the Smarty Pants brand of vitamins because they are non-GMO and use high-quality natural ingredients like turmeric and black carrot juice for coloring. They use Chickory Root for the Inulin Fiber. Inulin also increases Butyrate in the gut which helps with constipation.
When trying to add a fiber supplement like Smarty Pants you need to make sure you are drinking a lot. If you are dehydrated then the fiber will not have enough fluid and will make the stool dry and harder to pass.
Some readers have reported having good success with Fiber One Bars. They have 9 grams of fiber in them. They are not gluten free or dairy free and contain maltodextrin. We avoid Maltodextrin at all costs. It is often derived from wheat so not safe for people who are gluten-free and beyond that, it is indigestible sugar and causes gas and bloating in many members of my family. That being said, these have worked for some readers and might be worth trying depending on your dietary requirements.
When doing your grocery shopping you can also look for better choices to buy such as whole grains instead of white options. Choose brown rice over white rice for example. Brown Rice has 1.1 grams of fiber in 1/3 cup versus just .2 grams for white rice. White rice has had the husk, bran, and germ removed and that is where all of the fiber is. Instead of making a peanut butter sandwich, make peanut butter on celery or with whole grain crackers.
Juice has had most of the fiber stripped away and is mostly sugar. The whole fruit or veggie is always a better choice than the juiced version. If you have ever used a juicer you know that there is a ton of fiber that is left at the end of making juice.
Some people just do not do well with fiber supplements or even high fiber diets. If you add any of these supplements or foods and notice an increase of constipation, even with adequate hydration, then you might want to investigate further. Not tolerating fiber can be a sign of leaky gut or other gut damage. My article Healing the Gut from Chronic Constipation and Laxatives will help you on the path to healing your gut.
Is a Low Fiber diet Right for You?
You might also want to try a low fiber diet for a period of time and see if it helps your constipation. Fiber is definitely not a “one size fits everyone” solution. If you can’t tolerate fiber now, take a break and try it again when you are further along in your gut healing protocol.
I always prefer to get nutrition through real food instead of supplements if at all possible. Start reading labels and see if you can increase the fiber in your diet by picking higher fiber options.
Chia For Constipation Relief
One of my favorite ways to get easily digestible fiber in my diet is with chia seeds. I buy Viva Organic Chia Seeds or Nutiva Organic Chia Seeds from Amazon. Chia seeds have 11 grams of fiber in just two Tablespoons! 2 tbs also contains 30% of your RDA of magnesium and a great ratio or Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids. They have been used since Mayan times when Mayan warriors ate them for strength and endurance.
Chia seeds are also very high in magnesium, 80mg in 2 Tbs. Magnesium is a critical mineral for constipation and most of us are deficient in it. For more information on magnesium and constipation please read my article Magnesium for Constipation
When introducing chia seeds to the diet, start slowly until you know how you will handle them. In some, they can increase constipation and
Chia seeds are super versatile. My first experience with chia seeds came as a substitution for eggs when my son was young and couldn’t tolerate eggs, even in baked goods. I would make a “Chia Egg” and add it to pancakes, bread or anything else that needed an egg.
To make a chia egg you are going to need to grind up the chia seeds. I have This Coffee Grinder that I use exclusively for grinding herbs and seeds. Grind just over 1 Tbs of chia seeds in your grinder ( you will get close to 2 Tbs of ground flax seeds) then measure out 1 Tbs of chia and add 3 Tbs of water. Mix well and put in the fridge for 15 minutes while it sets up. Then you can add it to your baking instead of eggs. Even if you can eat eggs, this substitution is a great way to increase the fiber in your favorite baked goods.
You can also add chia seeds to my Chocolate Coconut Oil Poop Candy For Constipation Relief.
You can sprinkle chia seeds in smoothies, add to baked goods, make a chia seed jam with fresh fruit, add to breading for fish or chicken, sprinkle them on yogurt, cereal or oatmeal or on your salad or cut up fruit or mix into dips, guacamole or hummus.
Chia Pudding Recipe for Fiber for Constipation Relief
Chia Pudding is one of my favorite ways to incorporate chia into our diet. If you are interested in learning more about Chia Pudding and how it helps to relieve constipation and to get the recipe, read my article Chia Pudding Recipe for Fiber and Constipation Relief
For more information on how to end your struggle with chronic constipation, please read my article How To Relieve Your Chronic Constipation Naturally which will help you with short term remedies to help to get you going and will help you to find the root cause of your constipation so you can solve it permanently.
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*DISCLAIMER, I AM NOT A DOCTOR OR MEDICAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL. ALL IDEAS DISCUSSED AND DESCRIBED IN THIS POST ARE MY OWN AND ARE NOT MEANT TO TREAT OR DIAGNOSE. IF YOU HAVE A MEDICAL CONDITION PLEASE SPEAK WITH YOUR DOCTOR.