A recent large study to assess the associations of dietary fiber and liquid intake to constipation concluded: “The findings support clinical recommendations to treat constipation with increased liquid, but not fiber or exercise.” To read the study, click here.
“Constipation can be caused by a variety of factors including insufficient fluid intake, excessive use of laxatives, antacids, or pain medicine such as Tylenol 1, 2, 3 and 4, which contain codeine. Health conditions including Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or colon cancer can also cause constipation. Chronic constipation can lead to the diagnosis of IBS-C. While no specific cause has been identified for IBS-C, researchers have discovered that IBS-C is often accompanied by the presence of methane-producing Archaea microbes in the gut. This is an important clue, which we’ll follow up later on in the book.
The first thing you should try for constipation is increasing your water intake. Also evaluate the medicines you are taking to see if constipation is listed as a potential side effect. People who find that these basic steps don’t help their constipation often reach for a laxative. Laxatives can include both foods (like prunes) and drugs that loosen stools allowing for easier passage through the intestine. Laxatives include both oral medications and suppositories.”
Note: The book lists side effects of a variety of laxatives and evaluates the efficacy claims. Also, prunes should not be used due to their very high fermentation potential that can drive new symptoms.
Bulk-forming laxatives, including high-fiber foods and fiber supplements such as psyllium, methylcellulose, and polycarbophil, are often recommended for people suffering from chronic constipation. The goal is to accelerate the movement of food through your digestive tract. There is considerable doubt as to the effectiveness of this approach. One clinical study looked at the use of bran fiber to reduce constipation. Twenty grams of bran per day did not improve constipation symptoms when compared to a placebo.