Constipation? The Three F’s (And The Three Bs)

Outhouse

Something I learned in school eons ago was that …

Fluid
Fitness
Fiber

… help sluggish bowls or constipation. There are other factors that affect motility, like hormones, but The Three Fs are things people can do, short of taking a drug. They boost health in other areas too.

So, if you are in relatively good health and not taking any medication that has constipation as a side effect (e.g. antidepressants, pain relievers, antihistamines, and some supplements like iron and calcium), drinking more, moving more, and eating more fiber may help. The Three Fs.

About fiber, another thing I learned back then was “The Three Bs”:

Berries
Beans
Bran

These foods supply some of the most fiber for your serving size buck. There’s another whole category called resistant starch which I’ve been writing about for 12 years. Time flies! It’s not technically fiber in that it’s difficult to measure in a food before you eat it, but it works the same way … it’s starch that is not digested and ends up in the colon. It’s hard to measure because the act of cooking it, then cooling it, produces more. Each cycle of heating/cooling produces even more. So, for example, hot pasta or potatoes have less resistant starch than the same pasta or potatoes left to cool.

Americans don’t get enough fiber. The average adult eats only 15 grams a day. The Institute of Medicine, the group that develops the RDAs, says that women should be eating about 25 grams/day, men 38 grams/day.

That 38 grams is a lot. For example:

A bowl of oatmeal, 1/2 cup, has 4 grams of fiber.
2 pieces of whole wheat bread have 4 grams.
A cup of cooked spaghetti has 3 grams.
A medium banana has 3 grams.
A 1/2 cup of kidney beans has 7 grams.

A cup of raspberries have 8 grams. I note this one not because it’s practical (it’s expensive and sure to give you indigestion) but to show that berries are good fiber sources.

An egg, a cup of yogurt, a piece of cheese, chicken breast, steak, bacon, salmon, tuna, or any fish … all of these have ZERO grams of fiber. They are all animal foods which do not contain fiber. Only plant food contains fiber.

If all you ate all day was food from plants you could make your fiber cutoff. The more you substitute animal foods in your meals, the harder it will be to get to 38 grams.

Back to The Three Fs … as people age they typically experience the trifecta of drinking less, moving less, and eating less. That coupled with an increase in medications that have constipation as a side effect almost ensures fewer trips to the bathroom.

4 thoughts on “Constipation? The Three F’s (And The Three Bs)

  1. Pingback: This Recent Study Is Not Good News For Manufacturers (And Consumers) Of Probiotics | Fanatic Cook

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