All of us look forward to a good night’s sleep and waking up, refreshed, to a beautiful morn. To kick start the day on a cheerful note it is important to have normal bowel movements, which, sadly, a lot of people lack. Many people suffer from constipation or the inability to clear the bowel regularly. This often leads to physical discomfort, gas, bloating and several other problems that can impede one’s quality of life. There are many reasons for constipation; one of the main reasons is the lack of fiber in one’s diet. Other reasons include inadequate water consumption and stress!
What is Fibre?
Fibre is a carbohydrate, sourced from plants. Unlike carbohydrates such as sugar or starch, fiber cannot be digested by humans and is incapable of generating energy. It can, however, provide bulk to one’s diet and play a large role in regularizing bowel movements. Fiber is of two kinds –soluble and insoluble. The soluble variety of fiber can dissolve in water while the insoluble type cannot dissolve. Soluble fiber is found in oats, barley, fruits, legumes, carrots and many other food items, while insoluble fiber is found in bran, whole grain flour, fruit skin and nuts.
Doctors advise individuals with poor bowel movements to add food rich in fiber to their daily diet. Most of these food items, such as whole wheat bread, fruits and oatmeal are easily available. However, eating too much fiber-based food, and that too quickly, often leads to frequent bowel movements. Such undesirable effects can be reduced if you understand the role of fiber in the digestive process and learn to consume the right amount of fiber on a daily basis.
How much fibre does one need to take?
To regulate your daily bowel movements please follow these suggestions – 25 gms of fibre for women below the age of 50 and 38gms for men below 50 yrs. If you are a woman over the age of 50 yrs, 21 gms of fiber is recommended in your diet, while a man above 50 yrs may take 30 grams. Increase in dosage is likely to increase the frequency of your bowel movements while a decrease could lead to constipation. Any changes therefore must be implemented only gradually. Fibre tends to absorb water, so make sure you drink adequate amount of water every day. 8-10 glasses of water are required on a daily basis.
It is always better to consult a physician before adding more fiber to your diet. In case you observe changes in the color or volume of your feces or if you observe blood, pus or excessive mucus, make sure that you consult your doctor.
A word of caution!
If your bowel blues are due to other medical conditions such diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis or an obstruction, a high-fiber diet is likely to worsen the condition by causing pain or abdominal bloating. In such situations, it is recommended that dietary fiber is reduced to lesser than 10 gms a day. You may resume normal dosage once the abdominal problem tides over.