A diet low in fiber can exacerbate the constipation you may occasionally experience, according to the National Institutes of Health. Eating too much food made from white flour and refined sugars can prevent you from consuming enough fiber from foods such as whole-grain breads. Other causes for constipation include medications, inadequate hydration and some diseases.
Whole-grain bread is in the grains group on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that at least half of your 5 to 7 oz. of grain foods come from whole grains such as whole-grain bread. You need 22 to 28 g of fiber as an adult woman, and 28 to 34 g of fiber as an adult male. Fiber-rich bread can help relieve constipation, as evidenced by a study published in the March 2006 edition of the “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” which found that participants who ate rye bread, which is a whole-grain bread, experienced less constipation and more frequent bowel movements than the participants who did not consume the rye bread.
Whole-grain breads encompass more than just bread made from whole-wheat flour. Oatmeal, barley, bran, bulgar and rye are also whole grains and contribute high-quality fiber to breads, which can help relieve your constipation. When purchasing commercially prepared breads, examine the label to ensure that you see the words “whole wheat” or “whole grains” in the first few ingredients of the bread. Among the healthiest breads are those that contain the most fiber per serving, advises MayoClinic.com.
Whole-grain bread made with 100 percent whole-wheat flour contains 1.9 g of fiber per slice, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. Other whole grain breads such as rye, oatmeal and pumpernickel contain 1.9, 1.1 and 2.1 g of fiber per slice, respectively. If you make your own whole-grain bread or rolls, 1/2 cup of buckwheat flour has 6 g of fiber, and whole-wheat flour has 7.3 g per 1/2 cup. The higher the fiber content of your whole-grain bread, the easier it is to eat enough fiber to help relieve your constipation.
If you suddenly increase the amount of fiber you consume, you will likely experience bloating and gas pains rather than simply relieve your constipation. Registered dietitian Joanne Larsen recommends adding foods high in fiber to your diet slowly. If you are accustomed to eating mainly white bread and few other foods high in fiber, plan on eating 10 g of fiber per day for one week, and adding additional fiber each week until you are eating the required amount of fiber every day. Avoid getting all of your fiber from whole-grain breads, but instead include high-fiber vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds in your dietary plan.
- National Institutes of Health; What I Need to Know About Constipation; December 2008
- “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition”; A Combination of Fiber-Rich Rye Bread and Yoghurt Containing Lactobacillus GG Improves Bowel Function in Women with Self-Reported Constipation; Sanna-Maria Hongisto et al.; March 2006
- Mayo Clinic: Whole Grains: Hearty Options for a Healthy Diet
- Ask the Dietitian; Fiber & Constipation; Joanne Larsen, R.D.