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"Can a liquid diet help with constipation?"

ZocdocAnswersCan a liquid diet help with constipation?


I'm a middle-aged man who has been dealing with chronic constipation for at least half my life. I'd like to stop taking laxatives. If I switched to a liquid diet for a while, would that help my constipation?


Constipation, defined medically as having less than three bowel movements per week, is a common problem that most people will experience at least some time in there life. If your constipation is chronic, I would encourage you to see your primary care doctor or a gastroenterologist (stomach specialist) as constipation can often be treated. In addition, if not treated there are serious irreversible problems that can develop. Unfortunately, a liquid diet rarely helps constipation. While dehydration can cause constipation, it is rare for this to be a chronic cause in an otherwise healthy person. The gastrointestinal tract secretes a substantial amount of fluid into early part of the tract, and then reabsorbs it in the later part. That is to say, how much fluid you eat often wont make a difference as the body adds fluid itself. Adequate fluid intake is important, but a pure liquid diet will probably not help. That being said, your diet can help relieve constipation. A high fiber diet (greater than 30 grams a day for men and greater than 25 grams a day for women) can be very helpful. High fiber foods include grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. Fiber supplements are also available. Limiting high fat foods can also help as can physical activity. Keep in mind other diseases as well as laxatives themselves can often cause constipation. Discuss diet options with your primary doctor or a nutritionist. Also see your doctor to ensure there is no other causes of your constipation.

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