It is estimated that approximately 65 million people struggle with some sort of problem with constipation. Over the years, more and more high-fiber products have been hitting the market with claims they can treat constipation. Despite what marketers want you to believe, excessive fiber intake, especially of the wrong kind of fiber, can worsen your constipation and take a toll on your health.
Constipation Caused by Too Much Fiber
If you’re experiencing chronic constipation, consuming too many whole-grain fiber products like fiber cereal and granola bars can actually worsen the problem due to the fact that many of these products contain large amounts of processed sugars, additives, and preservatives that your digestive system cannot properly absorb and process.
Secondly, processed grain fiber can destroy your healthy gut flora. This has to do with the way the grain fiber is fermented in the GI tract. The fermentation process creates byproducts (short chain fatty acids, ethanol, and lactic acid) that can destroy gut bacteria needed for proper digestion.
Millions of Americans have very low stomach acid (a condition called hypochlorhydria), which causes fiber supplements to work against their intended use. Fiber contains phytic acid, which can deplete your natural mineral stores. Only when stomach acid is high can it properly break down the phytic acid and prevent this from occurring.
Studies have shown that while fiber supplements may temporarily relieve functional constipation, they actually worsens slow-transit constipation.
With the help of your doctor, it is important to rule out other possible causes of constipation such as hypothyroidism (common), a side effect from your medication (common) or obstruction from a bowel tumor (less common) before treating chronic constipation.
Let’s look a little more closely at the most common types of constipation:
- Functional Constipation
Functional constipation is also called chronic idiopathic constipation because there is no diagnosable cause. Symptoms of functional constipation include straining, hard, lumpy stools, and an inability to have a successful bowel movement more than three times per week. This type of constipation often occurs in individuals with irritable bowel syndrome.
- Slow-Transit Constipation
Often referred to as a sluggish colon, slow-transit constipation occurs when your natural gut movements (peristalsis) are not as strong and frequent as they should be. This type of constipation is thought to be caused by a dysfunction of the enteric nervous system or neuroendocrine system. Symptoms include gas, bloating, distended abdomen, and chronic discomfort.
- Outlet Dysfunction
Outlet dysfunction constipation is usually caused by pelvic floor dysfunction, anal stricture, or a prolapsed bowel.
More Health Problems Caused by Excessive Fiber Intake
If you’re eating high doses of grain-fiber foods while taking synthetic laxatives, you can do serious risk to your digestive system. Excessive fiber intake can cause chronic malabsorption of nutrients, intestinal blockages, excessive flatulence, intestinal inflammation, and hard, painful stools.
The Key to Comprehensive Constipation Relief
Treating functional or slow-transit constipation isn’t just a matter of piling in the fiber and hoping for the best. For comprehensive and lasting constipation relief, it’s important to rule out any underlying medical reasons (hypothyroidism or gastroparesis for example) and correct the underlying cause(s) when possible.
First and foremost, a healthy diet is essential. If your diet consists primarily of highly-processed food (cereal, fiber bars, fast food, potato chips, donuts, soda, etc.), you’re going to have chronic digestive complaints. A whole-food diet is the cornerstone of healthy digestion. For my patients, I also recommend at least 8 glasses of pure water daily along with moderate physical activity at least 3-4 times a week.
I recommend a combination of natural fiber sources and fermented foods. Organic collard greens, kale, spinach, artichokes, and peas are rich in fiber while sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, and kefir are good sources of healing probiotics.
It is also important to address any possible underlying food allergies such as gluten, lactose, soy, corn or fructose intolerance. That’s why I strongly recommend the Alcat Comprehensive Wellness 1-Kit.
Unlike other tests, which often lead to a false negative, this test is very sensitive and tells you exactly which foods and chemicals you might be intolerant to, and how severely. For many of my patients, this has been the missing piece of the puzzle in finally healing chronic digestive distress.
Fiber supplements can be very helpful when used in moderation and in conjunction with a healthy diet. The type of fiber supplement you use is very important. That’s why I recommend Diamond Nutritionals’ Bowel Support Formula. This formula contains a healing combination of fruit pectin and psyllium fiber designed to naturally induce healthy, formed bowel movements.
Since no fiber supplement, even a natural one, can completely treat constipation by itself, it is also important to add a probiotic supplement. Diamond Nutritionals’ Probiotic Formula contains six live, active cultures to help aid digestion. This may also help increase your digestive motility naturally while improving your nutrient uptake from food.
If you want to get your constipation under control, resist the urge to turn to processed fiber products. Instead, eat a whole-food diet, stay active, drink plenty of pure water and supplement with naturally-derived fiber and probiotic supplements.
You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel!