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Diet for Slow-Transit Constipation

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
Diet for Slow-Transit Constipation
A bowl of popcorn sits on a sheet of satin fabric. Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

While constipation is different for everyone, it is generally described as infrequent bowel movements. Slow-transit constipation is a condition caused by abnormalities of the enteric nerves in the large intestines, leading to impaired muscle coordination in the digestive system. People with slow-transit constipation have two or fewer bowel movements a week, according to the authors of a 2008 article published in "Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery." A high-fiber diet is recommended as part of the treatment plan for people with slow-transit constipation, but consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.

How Much Fiber

In general, aim to eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day when you have slow-transit constipation, advise Drs. Jared C. Frattini and Juan J. Nogueras of the Cleveland Clinic Florida. Fiber needs vary depending on gender and age, however. Women need 25 grams of fiber a day and men 38 grams of fiber a day. As you age, your fiber needs decrease. Women over age 50 need 21 grams of fiber a day, and men over 50 need 30 grams. When increasing the amount of fiber in your diet, do so over the course of a few weeks to prevent exacerbation of your constipation.

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Food Sources of Fiber

Fiber is found in a number of different types of food, including fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Foods with 4 or more grams of fiber per serving include kidney beans, lentils, raspberries, high-fiber cereals, artichokes and baked winter hubbard squash. Foods with 1 to 3 grams of fiber per serving include whole-wheat bread and crackers, apples, oranges, cherries, pears, plums, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, popcorn, almonds and peanuts.

Fluids and Fiber

When adding fiber to your diet to help improve your condition, it's important that you drink plenty of fluid. Fluid helps your body manage the extra fiber and prevent further discomfort. How much fluid you need depends on your age, gender, activity and climate. You should aim for at least 8 cups, but you may need as much as 15 cups, according to the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. In addition to water, other sources of fluid include unsweetened tea or coffee, 100-percent fruit juice and low-sodium broth. High-water-content fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon and cucumbers, can also help you meet your fluid needs.

Adding Fiber to Your Meals

At breakfast, eat bread or cereals that list a whole grain as the first ingredient and include fresh fruit instead of juice to get more fiber. Add beans to your soup or salad at lunch. For dinner, make vegetables the focus of your meals and include a whole-grain starch such as brown rice or quinoa for extra fiber. Snack on fruit, whole-grain crackers, popcorn or dried fruit and nut mixes to boost your fiber intake and improve bowel function.

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