A poor diet or lack of fluid intake can affect your digestive system and often cause or worsen constipation. There are two key ways of preventing constipation through a healthy diet – increasing fibre, and maintaining adequate fluid levels.
Increase your intake of fibre
The average adult requires 25 g to 30 g of fibre each day. Dietary fibre is important as it helps to bulk and create soft stools that are easier to pass. Eating foods like fruits, vegetables and wholemeal bread can increase your daily intake of fibre.
Inadequate food intake can impact the digestive process and contribute to constipation. Eating little and often is key and snacking on high fibre foods, such as fruits, vegetables and wholemeal bread can help.
Getting enough fibre in your diet can be difficult, but trying to avoid processed food can help. These foods are often high in fat and additives and low in fibre. Adding some fresh fruits and vegetables or a salad to a meal can help to increase your daily fibre intake. Try including some of the high fibre food listed in the table below to increase your daily intake.
Drink enough fluids
Fluid helps to keep stools soft, which ultimately makes them easier to pass. The Victorian Government (Better Health Channel) recommends a daily fluid intake for women of 2.1 L, and for men, 2.6 L. The amount should be increased if it’s hotter or you are more active. Beware alcohol dehydrates the body. Drinking only coffee and tea can also be dehydrating as they contain caffeine, which is a diuretic. Try substituting one of these a day with water, herbal teas or fruit juice – or try a decaffeinated brew instead.
Increasing your intake of fluid can help to avoid constipation. Adequate fluid intake is essential for general health, and also helps to keep your stools soft and easy to pass.