Fiber can help prevent and relieve constipation and make it easier to pass stool. People with constipation may need to include more fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, in their diet.

Constipation affects approximately 16% of adults. Similarly, 33% of people aged 60 and over have symptoms of constipation.

The symptoms of constipation are as follows

stools that are hard and difficult to pass
less than three bowel movements per week
the impression that all the stools have not been evacuated
Constipation can be caused by a number of reasons, including dietary habits and certain health conditions.

This article examines the relationship between fiber and constipation. It also lists some high-fiber foods to eat and other types of foods to limit. Finally, it provides tips for relieving constipation and when to seek medical attention.

Fiber and Constipation

People should consume about 22 to 34 grams (g) of fiber each day, depending on their age and gender. Both soluble and insoluble fiber are present in plant foods. Fiber from plant foods ferments in the gut to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These acids can help digestive function, for example by speeding up the movement of food through the digestive tract.

Additionally, SCFAs may help regulate the gut-brain axis, which research suggests is a factor in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Health professionals use the term “gut-brain axis” to describe the communication between the nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract. Irritable bowel syndrome can cause constipation.

According to a 2021 review, adult women should consume 25 g of fiber per day, and adult men 38 g of fiber per day. The study authors note that most people consume only half that amount. They also noted that European guidelines recommend fiber, primarily soluble fiber, for managing chronic constipation. The study explains that soluble fiber acts as a prebiotic, increases saturated fatty acids and forms gels with water to help regulate stool consistency. However, the study notes that because fiber retains water, care should be taken to stay hydrated by drinking at least 8 glasses of fluid a day to allow fiber to exert its laxative effects.

Sources of fiber

Gradually add fiber to the diet so that the body can get used to it. Also, be sure to drink enough fluids, such as water, to help fiber work and bowel movements.

The following foods are good sources of fiber:

Type of food Examples
Whole Grains: Wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta, brown rice, oats, oat bran, popcorn, spelled, bulgur, quinoa, barley, shredded wheat, and unsweetened granolas.
Vegetables: artichokes, pumpkins, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, broccoli, greens, carrots and mushrooms
Beans: navy beans, adzuki beans, black beans, and garbanzo beans
Fruits: guava, raspberries, blueberries, kiwis, apricots, pears, apples, oranges and passion fruit
Nuts: walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, Brazil nuts and pine nuts
Seeds: sunflower, pumpkin, flax, hemp and chia seeds.
Also, it is possible to buy fiber supplements over the counter. However, it is recommended that you consult a healthcare professional before taking any supplements.

Foods to Limit

The following foods can make constipation worse and a person should consider limiting them in their diet:

foods high in fat
processed foods, fast food, and some microwaveable meals
processed meats
dairy products
the chips
foods and drinks with added sugar

Tips for Relieving Constipation

Here are tips experts recommend for relieving constipation:

eat more fiber
drink plenty of fluids
engage in regular physical activity
try to have a bowel movement at the same time every day
put your feet on a pouf to relax the muscles during defecation
changing medications that may be causing constipation with the help of a doctor
consult a healthcare professional about over-the-counter medications or dietary supplements that may help.

When to contact a doctor

People should contact a doctor if their bowel habits change and are accompanied by any of the following:

bleeding from the rectum or presence of blood in the stool
severe stomach pain or flatulence
unexplained weight loss
lower back pain
A person should also consider seeing a healthcare professional if their constipation persists despite diet changes and exercise.


A diet high in fiber can help relieve constipation and make it easier to pass stools. A healthcare professional may recommend including more whole grains, vegetables, and beans in the diet and drinking plenty of fluids. He may also recommend regular physical activity, defecation training, or a change in medications causing the constipation. If, in addition to constipation, a person has symptoms such as blood in the stool, severe stomach pain or vomiting, or is not relieved by changes in diet and exercise, she should contact her doctor.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.