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CONSTIPATION AND FIBER: DOES INCREASING INTAKE HELP?
Constipation is an extremely common condition that can result from poor transit of stool. This results in bloating and lower abdominal discomfort. The causes are manifold but it is important to exclude a mechanical cause. Most constipation will respond to a course of soluble fibre. This is commonly available over the counter at the pharmacy as pysillium seed or ipsahula husk granules. Drinking more water (10 glasses a day) with at least 5 portions of fruit or vegetables will supplement this.
However, some people still have constipation despite this regimen. An evaluation with your doctor is important, especially if you are over 50 years of age and the onset of this change in bowel habit is less than 2-3 months in duration.
Fibre also works better with younger people because the issue is insufficient bulk to increase transit through the colon. However in the elderly, too much fibre can do more harm as the colon is usually flaccid and unable to propel an increased bulk of stool. In this situation, laxatives and stool softeners play a larger role.
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