Hello -

I've got a lot of constipation frustrations but this is number two.

You're not all alone here. And you're definitely not helpless, even if it sometimes feels that way. Constipation is so frustrating, and it does take longer to resolve than diarrhea. But - there are many, many ways to help constipation, it just takes a little patience and persistence.

Here's another top frustration: If insoluble fiber foods are IBS triggers, I just won't eat any!

No. With IBS, taking things to an extreme can make it worse, not better.

Insoluble fiber foods (like bran, raw fibrous veggies, salad greens, unpeeled fruits) are very powerful GI tract stimulants, and for those of us with over-reactive guts due to IBS they can spell big trouble. For people with normal bowel function, insoluble fiber can relieve constipation and poses no problems.

For constipation from IBS, however, insoluble fiber can trigger violent GI spasms that are very painful. Additionally, these spasms can actually seize up the colon muscles in a type of "charley horse", which results in slower (or no) bowel motility and worsens constipation.

For this reason, insoluble fiber needs to be treated with care. Here's the catch. For general good health, and for healthy bowel function overall, insoluble fiber foods need to be eaten as generously and as frequently as possible. While you can break the cycle of IBS attacks by eating nothing but soluble fiber foods for a few days, this is a short-term approach to simply calming your gut and the spasms.

Once you've stabilized, you cannot simply continue to eliminate insoluble fiber foods from your diet on a daily basis. This is a mistake made by many people who glance over the insoluble fiber cautions without taking the time to read the information thoroughly. It's also really helpful to follow recipes for IBS that safely add insoluble fiber foods to a soluble fiber foundation.

For people with IBS, and especially IBS constipation, insoluble fiber foods require a balancing act. I really can't emphasize strongly enough that they cannot be avoided altogether. They are potential triggers, but you must eat them, and if you do so carefully, according to the Eating for IBS guidelines, you should be able to incorporate a wide variety of insoluble fiber foods into your daily diet.

Take this approach slowly and cautiously, but do take it. If you simply avoid all insoluble fiber foods completely you will worsen your constipation in the long-term. By adding it gradually, safely, and in slowly increasing amounts, you'll help alleviate constipation while still keeping your gut calm and bowel motility stable.

As always with IBS, avoid going to extremes, be kind and considerate to your GI tract, and it will be much more likely to return the favor to you.

You are not alone!

P.S. If you have any questions or comments I'd love to hear them - just reply to this email to reach me directly.

To taming your tummy,
Heather

Heather Van Vorous
Heather Van Vorous
Over 40 years dealing with IBS

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