Pharmacy Corner
Constipation: Time Goes Slow When You Can’t Go What lifestyle changes help with constipation?

Does fibre help with constipation?

Fibre is recommended for people that have constipation.7 Your body does not absorb fibre, so when you eat fibre it goes in one end and goes out the other.8 It will help you pass stool more quickly and also increase the weight of your stools.

What is the difference between soluble fibre and insoluble fibre?

Soluble fibre dissolves in water and works to keep water within the colon, while insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water and increases bulk of stools.9 Both types of fibre can help in constipation, however, insoluble fibre works better.10

What foods are high in fibre?4

Fibre
Food TypeExamples
Vegetables and legumesBeans, lentils, chickpeas, green peas
FruitsRaspberries, avocados, prunes
CerealFibre1®, Bran Flakes®
BreadWhole-wheat, rye, pumpernickel
NutsAlmonds, walnuts, pistachios

Click here for more dietary fibre options

How much fiber should I be taking?

The amount of fibre you should take depends on you. The values range between 21-38 g of fibre per day.4

Recommended amount of fibre per day.8

AgeWomenMen
19-5025 g38 g
51+21 g30 g

Not sure what 21-38 g looks like? Here are some examples:

  • 21 g of fibre ≈ 4 medium pears11
  • 25 g of fibre ≈ 8 slices of whole wheat bread11
  • 30 g of fibre ≈ 1 ¼ cups of All Bran® cereal12
  • 38 g of fibre ≈ 2 ⅓ cups of cooked split peas13
tips

Fibre Tips

  1. It is important to drink lots of fluid to supplement fibre. Aim to drink around 6-8 glasses (1.5 – 2.0 L) of fluid per day.14

    • NOTE: Drinks with caffeine and alcohol have water losing effects in the body.3 It is best to avoid these drinks or if not possible, then you should drink extra water to counteract the effects of caffeine and alcohol.

  2. Don’t start eating a large amount of fibre tomorrow. If you change how much fibre you eat too quickly you can get some serious bloating and gas. To prevent this from happening, slowly increase the amount of fibre you eat over a few weeks.15

What other lifestyle changes are there for constipation?

  1. Go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge to go – If you feel the urge to go to the bathroom, don’t resist it! Delaying it can make it harder to pass in the future.
  2. Set aside a specific time to go to the washroom – This should be at the same time every day. After breakfast is a good time as it is when the activity in the colon is at the highest.4
  3. Drink lots of fluid – This is especially important if you are eating or taking a lot of fibre. Aim to drink at least 6-8 glasses of fluid daily (around 1.5 - 2.0 L).14
  4. Exercise – People who are not active and moving around are at higher risk of constipation.4 Exercise will not only help for constipation but is important to keep you healthy! Find physical activity guides here.

Do probiotics work?

Some probiotics may help to move stool through the colon. There is not a lot of research to show that they will work to treat constipation.4 Before taking a probiotic, consider talking to your doctor or pharmacist.