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Is Oatmeal Good for Constipation?

Is Oatmeal Good for Constipation?
A bowl of oatmeal with berries and cinnamon. Photo Credit: Arx0nt/iStock/Getty Images

Eating oatmeal may help you lower your cholesterol, lower your blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy weight, according to a study published in "Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety" in July 2012. This nutrient-rich food, high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, can also be beneficial for preventing constipation due to the high amount of insoluble fiber it contains.

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Fiber and Constipation

Eating a diet high in fiber is one way to limit your risk for constipation, according to MedlinePlus. Insoluble fiber, found in whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, is particularly beneficial for this purpose. This type of fiber adds bulk to your stool and traps water to make your stool softer. Soft and bulky stools move more easily through your digestive tract and help keep you regular so you don't become constipated.

Oatmeal Fiber Content

Each cup of regular or quick oatmeal prepared with water contains about 4 grams of fiber, or 16 percent of the daily value of 25 grams. Of this, about half, or 2 grams, consists of the insoluble fiber that is helpful for preventing constipation. The other half consists of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber.

Possible Adverse Effects

Although a high-fiber diet can help prevent constipation, if you increase your fiber intake too quickly and don't also increase the amount of water you drink, it could actually cause constipation, bloating, gas or diarrhea until your body gets used to your new, higher intake of fiber. Eating more than 50 grams of fiber per day can also interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients, such as calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc, according to the University of Arizona Extension.

Other Ways to Limit Constipation Risk

Exercising about half an hour each day and drinking plenty of water -- at least eight glasses per day -- can also help keep you regular, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Don't try to hold in your bowel movements; go to the bathroom whenever you feel the urge. Otherwise, you may stop feeling this urge. Sometimes it helps to use the bathroom about 15 minutes to 45 minutes after you eat breakfast. Check with your doctor to see if any medications you are taking may be causing your constipation.

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