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Too much fibre?

Bella_FiguraBella_Figura Member Posts: 972 Member Member Posts: 972 Member
I apologise if this is TMI, but every time I start eating healthily (whole grains, plenty of fruit and veg, pulses, salads etc) I start to find it really difficult to poop. I checked back over my diary for the past 20 days and my fibre intake has fallen into the range 26-32g per day; my fluid intake is pretty stable at 3.6 litres a day (121 fluid ounces), of which 1.6 litres (54 fl oz) is pure water; and I've walked for a minimum of 90 minutes a day.

So I'm doing everything I should be doing (fibre, hydration, exercise) to ensure a smooth passage of food though my gut and a comfortable and easy evacuation.

Instead, although I manage to go every day or two, my poo is very hard, pellet-like, odourless and difficult to pass, meaning I have to really strain. There is often a feeling of incomplete evacuation. Sometimes the stool is so hard that it makes me bleed a little.

I don't have bloating or other conventional constipation symptoms, but I have most of the symptoms on the Rome III diagnosis tool for functional constipation. I seem to fit the profile of someone with 'obstruction defecation constipation' or 'outlet constipation'.

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I came across a study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3435786/) that suggests that for people with obstruction defecation constipation, a high fibre diet actually makes symptoms worse.

So, as an experiment, I'm going to try to keep my fibre below 10g a day for a couple of weeks and see if it makes a difference. I'll try to eliminate insoluble fibre completely.

Does anyone have experience of this type of constipation? If so, have you found limiting fibre has helped?

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Replies

  • Bella_FiguraBella_Figura Member Posts: 972 Member Member Posts: 972 Member
    MaltedTea wrote: »
    As someone who hyperbolically believes the meaning of life can be found via adequate fiber consumption, I hope you find your happy intake range. In addition to getting your macros sorted, drinking more water may be helpful as can reviewing your sources of fiber.

    Finally, since we're TMIing, I'm not a fan of fiber as a pre-bed snack because I find I wake up light-headed. There are workarounds for this, but I figured it out after experimenting...much like you're doing now 👌🏿

    I also was of the opinion that adequate fibre consumption was the holy grail, and every time things get 'stuck' I've frantically tried to add even more fibre. My highest ever intake was almost 50g. I do drink plenty of fluid, 1.6 litres of water and and additiona 2+ litres of tea, coffee, herbal tea, fruit teas etc. I feel awash but I guess I could add another litre.

    As for the sources of fibre...I tend to start the day with Weetabix Crunchy Bran (8.8g insoluble fibre for a 40g serving), served with natural yoghurt and either passionfruit, stewed rhubarb or strawberries for even more (soluble) fibre.

    For lunch I usually have either a homemade veggie soup served with a slice of multi-grain and rye bread or a salad (shredded red & white cabbage, grated raw carrot, red/yellow/orange peppers, cucumber, rocket, onion and a spoonful of sauerkraut, sometimes served in a wholemeal pitta bread. I'll add a bit of chicken, tuna or ham for protein.

    For dinner I try to add veggies or salad into whatever I'm having; my husband refuses to eat wholemeal pasta or rice so we always have white pasta or white basmati rice, but all our curries and stirfries incorporate lots of veggies.

    Then, I'll have a large orange or more stewed rhubarb and yoghurt for dessert.

    I finish eating by 8pm, so I eat all my food between a 12 hour window (8am until 8pm). I use whole milk, butter, natural (5% fat) yoghurt and olive/sunflower oil to add fat into my diet.

    With that wealth of information, does anyone spot anything that I've missed?
  • SModa61SModa61 Member Posts: 1,837 Member Member Posts: 1,837 Member
    I'm finding this read interesting. I am someone that dealt with hemorrhoids the majority of my life and they were the bane of everything physical that I wanted to do (exercise, swing/dance, even standing socially). Anyhow, had the surgery just over 2 years ago. Mine was great, but I have heard mine recovery was an acception. Point is, yes, be smart and address the constipation.

    My diet includes a morning of Fiber one cereal, with chia seeds and protein sources. My coffee contains benefiber and miralax. Are you jealous yet? :P I don't recommend having to resort to my actions, but they are on the instructions of my colorectal surgeon. I would love to distance myself from the need for the miralax and am going to keep the "fat" suggestions above in mind. According to my CRS, you want your stools the consistency of toothpaste. (sorry for the visual) My body does not do that naturally.

    On related not, if anyone has hemorrhoid concerns. Toilet habits are a significant factor. I can expound if it is of value.
  • Bella_FiguraBella_Figura Member Posts: 972 Member Member Posts: 972 Member
    SModa61 wrote: »
    According to my CRS, you want your stools the consistency of toothpaste. (sorry for the visual) My body does not do that naturally.

    On related not, if anyone has hemorrhoid concerns. Toilet habits are a significant factor. I can expound if it is of value.


    The visual was helpful! Mine are nothing like the consistency of toothpaste! :D

    And please, expound away! I've only had haemorrhoids once and hope never to have a repeat episode - excruciating! I use a 'Squatty Potty' to get in the optimal pooping position, but if you have any other toilet tips I'd love to hear them!
  • kshama2001kshama2001 Member Posts: 24,832 Member Member Posts: 24,832 Member
    Another vote for more fat.
  • SModa61SModa61 Member Posts: 1,837 Member Member Posts: 1,837 Member
    SModa61 wrote: »
    According to my CRS, you want your stools the consistency of toothpaste. (sorry for the visual) My body does not do that naturally.

    On related not, if anyone has hemorrhoid concerns. Toilet habits are a significant factor. I can expound if it is of value.


    The visual was helpful! Mine are nothing like the consistency of toothpaste! :D

    And please, expound away! I've only had hemorrhoids once and hope never to have a repeat episode - excruciating! I use a 'Squatty Potty' to get in the optimal pooping position, but if you have any other toilet tips I'd love to hear them!

    The fact you know about the squatty potty and proper position means that you are way ahead of the game. Basically, you want to figure out this constipation issue. That is not an option in the long run. Number 2 is position which you know. Number 3 is limiting time on the toilet. CRS said that is nothing happens in 3 minutes, get up and come back later. No cell phone scrolling, no magazine, no newspaper reading.

    For the constipation, I was told that I am on miralax for life. Would prefer to not be on miralax, but I also refuse to ruin my life again with spontaneously prolapsing hemorrhoids (they were at that level for about 12 years).

    Do please keep in mind that digestive issues can be nefarious too. Not likely, but if problems are significant, it can be worth checking with the doctor as well.
  • Bella_FiguraBella_Figura Member Posts: 972 Member Member Posts: 972 Member
    SModa61 wrote: »

    Number 3 is limiting time on the toilet. CRS said that is nothing happens in 3 minutes, get up and come back later. No cell phone scrolling, no magazine, no newspaper reading.

    I could certainly improve in that respect. I don't take in any reading material, but I do wait and hope. I'll start practicing the 3 min max rule!

    SModa61 wrote: »

    Do please keep in mind that digestive issues can be nefarious too. Not likely, but if problems are significant, it can be worth checking with the doctor as well.

    OK, thanks, I'll bear that in mind. I've not noticed blood in stool (other than if I tear) and I feel well in myself, but a check-up and discussion with my GP couldn't hurt. I've never heard of Miralax (and, like you, I dislike the idea of long term laxative use) so I'll check that out also. Thank you so much for your advice and insights.

  • Speakeasy76Speakeasy76 Member Posts: 809 Member Member Posts: 809 Member
    Did you increase your fiber intake quickly? That can cause your bowels to get messed up and have the opposite effect. I also think if I eat too much fiber at one meal it messes me up. There's also a thing for some as having too much fiber, but at your intake it doesn't sound like that.

    I'm someone who has dealt with irregularity/constipation for quite awhile, and there can be so many causes. I always hit at least 25 g of fiber and have for quite some time. Now that I'm on a medication and supplement that can cause constipation, I've been trying to not only REALLY make sure I hit that number, but get it from sources of fiber that are even better for moving things along. I've actually been eating a few prunes a day, and MAN does that make me feel old and like my grandma!

    It's also possible you have IBS and didn't know it, as some high-fiber "good-for-you" foods can actually increase symptoms. This is part of my problem, actually, so for me it's about finding the right balance and the right foods.
    edited May 29
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 21,582 Member Member, Premium Posts: 21,582 Member
    Things that IME may matter for constipation, speaking as someone diagnosed at one point with IBS-C:

    * Enough fiber, potentially a need to balance the right personal amounts of soluble/insoluble fiber. Increase fiber slowly (like across a couple of weeks) if starting from low fiber: Lots eaten suddenly can cause adaptation problems.
    * Enough water (not crazy much, but to light straw colored urine - bright yellow is OK if taking certain water soluble vitamins, but dark or brownish is Not Good.
    * Enough fats (maybe 0.35-0.45g per pound of bodyweight daily, men might get away with a bit less).
    * Regular exercise, ideally something that moves the middle.
    * Adequate dietary magnesium, for some people. Supplementing is an option.
    * Probiotics help some people (from food like live-culture yogurt/kefir, miso, raw unpasteurized sauerkraut/kim chi/fermented pickles, etc.) or a well-vetted supplement. (This assumes your fiber includes prebiotic fiber, i.e., the stuff your gut bugs like to eat.)

    Not all of those are vital for everyone, or at least not vital to change (if already at OK levels), but those are common things folks mention as helping. It's not exactly in order of importance as I perceive it: As pure opinion from threads here and conversations IRL, I think the things toward the top of the list are more common solutions, but if an individual is already (for example) getting plenty of fat, that's probably not as important *for them* to change.

    FWIW, as a 5'5" woman, now 125-ish pounds, I'm at 40-60g fiber most days (I love my veggies!), 48-64oz water in addition to fluids in food, 50g minimum fat daily, regular exercise (generally 6 days/week), do supplement magnesium (but not for this reason), and eat several probiotic foods daily (not specifically just for this reason). Most of the time, things are OK-ish, but not toothpaste consistency. Water & fat are the ones I personally need to pay attention to, because my natural tendency is to be lower in those than I've learned is ideal.
  • rosebarnalicerosebarnalice Member Posts: 3,344 Member Member Posts: 3,344 Member
    What's your dairy consumption? Even a little bit of yogurt or cow's milk will back me up like a rush hour expressway.
  • Bella_FiguraBella_Figura Member Posts: 972 Member Member Posts: 972 Member
    Did you increase your fiber intake quickly?

    No, not really. Even when I'm not focusing on healthy eating I try to always get more than 25g of fibre a day, so I've only increased by about 5g a day. I rarely find it easy to poop, but it definitely gets more difficult when I reduce my fat intake.

    It's also possible you have IBS and didn't know it, as some high-fiber "good-for-you" foods can actually increase symptoms. This is part of my problem, actually, so for me it's about finding the right balance and the right foods.

    I've never considered that it might be IBS-C because I don't have cramps, gas, bloating etc. I know there's some overlap between chronic constipation and IBS-C, but I seem to have few or none of the other IBS symptoms. I will look into this though, so thanks for the suggestion.

  • Bella_FiguraBella_Figura Member Posts: 972 Member Member Posts: 972 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    * Enough fats (maybe 0.35-0.45g per pound of bodyweight daily, men might get away with a bit less).
    * Regular exercise, ideally something that moves the middle.
    * Probiotics help some people (from food like live-culture yogurt/kefir, miso, raw unpasteurized sauerkraut/kim chi/fermented pickles, etc.) or a well-vetted supplement.

    I average about 0.3g of fat per pound of bodyweight, so that's something I could work on.

    I walk for at least 90 minutes a day, and I do loads of gardening, which involves lots of bending and stretching. I also dance and cycle, so I think I do sufficient exercise.

    I eat live natural yoghurt every day and I love sauerkraut; I don't have tons of probiotics so that's something else I could work on...
  • Bella_FiguraBella_Figura Member Posts: 972 Member Member Posts: 972 Member
    What's your dairy consumption? Even a little bit of yogurt or cow's milk will back me up like a rush hour expressway.

    I add full fat cow's milk to tea and coffee; I eat full fat natural yoghurt made with cow's milk most days; I don't eat much cheese, butter, cream or ice-cream.

    I've never noticed any adverse effects from eating dairy produce, and don't consider myself lactose intolerant. I'll have to explore the symptoms...
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 21,582 Member Member, Premium Posts: 21,582 Member
    What's your dairy consumption? Even a little bit of yogurt or cow's milk will back me up like a rush hour expressway.

    I add full fat cow's milk to tea and coffee; I eat full fat natural yoghurt made with cow's milk most days; I don't eat much cheese, butter, cream or ice-cream.

    I've never noticed any adverse effects from eating dairy produce, and don't consider myself lactose intolerant. I'll have to explore the symptoms...

    FWIW, I think the dairy effect may be more individualized. I eat quite a lot of dairy (I'm ovo-lacto veg), and haven't seen a correlation with my higher/lower dairy intake. I'm not doubting that it could be an issue for others, just don't think it's universal.
  • Speakeasy76Speakeasy76 Member Posts: 809 Member Member Posts: 809 Member
    Did you increase your fiber intake quickly?

    No, not really. Even when I'm not focusing on healthy eating I try to always get more than 25g of fibre a day, so I've only increased by about 5g a day. I rarely find it easy to poop, but it definitely gets more difficult when I reduce my fat intake.

    It's also possible you have IBS and didn't know it, as some high-fiber "good-for-you" foods can actually increase symptoms. This is part of my problem, actually, so for me it's about finding the right balance and the right foods.

    I've never considered that it might be IBS-C because I don't have cramps, gas, bloating etc. I know there's some overlap between chronic constipation and IBS-C, but I seem to have few or none of the other IBS symptoms. I will look into this though, so thanks for the suggestion.

    I know this is TMI, but do you have other problems down there--like urinary frequency, leaking, not feeling like your bladder is empty after you go? Because if you don't experience any other digestive problems, than maybe it's related to your pelvic floor muscles?
  • Bella_FiguraBella_Figura Member Posts: 972 Member Member Posts: 972 Member
    I know this is TMI, but do you have other problems down there--like urinary frequency, leaking, not feeling like your bladder is empty after you go? Because if you don't experience any other digestive problems, than maybe it's related to your pelvic floor muscles?

    Nope, no other digestive or urinary problems at all. I pee pretty regularly but that's only because I drink 4 litres of fluid a day, so pee is straw coloured. No problems with bladder control (so tickle away! :D ) and always feel as if my bladder is empty. I've never had children, so I don't think I have a problem with my pelvic floor muscles. I can cut off my pee mid stream if the need arises (though it's not something I need to do too often, thankfully!)
  • playhardkf2017playhardkf2017 Member, Premium Posts: 618 Member Member, Premium Posts: 618 Member
    @Bella_Figura
    Did you increase your fiber intake quickly?

    No, not really. Even when I'm not focusing on healthy eating I try to always get more than 25g of fibre a day, so I've only increased by about 5g a day. I rarely find it easy to poop, but it definitely gets more difficult when I reduce my fat intake.

    It's also possible you have IBS and didn't know it, as some high-fiber "good-for-you" foods can actually increase symptoms. This is part of my problem, actually, so for me it's about finding the right balance and the right foods.

    I've never considered that it might be IBS-C because I don't have cramps, gas, bloating etc. I know there's some overlap between chronic constipation and IBS-C, but I seem to have few or none of the other IBS symptoms. I will look into this though, so thanks for the suggestion.

    I know this is TMI, but do you have other problems down there--like urinary frequency, leaking, not feeling like your bladder is empty after you go? Because if you don't experience any other digestive problems, than maybe it's related to your pelvic floor muscles?

    I was thinking this too! I’m so glad you brought it up. I’m a 30 yo F with zero kids and I needed to go to pelvic floor pt due to urethral prolapse caused from straining. The PT helped me learn how to coordinate those muscles and it improved the way things evacuate because it makes you aware of how you’re using your body as you have a bm. If the increase in fat and others foods don’t help/ talking with your doctor... it could be worth a try.
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