Diet for Bowel Incontinence: What to Eat and What to Avoid
Bowel incontinence is the inability to control your bowel movements, sometimes resulting in involuntary soiling due to not reaching the toilet in time. More than 50% of older Americans struggle with incontinence according to a government report, but it can also affect people of all ages. Bowel incontinence, sometimes known as fecal incontinence, is commonly a symptom of another underlying medical condition, such as diarrhea or constipation, or it can occur overtime when one suffers from diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and dementia.
Bowel incontinence can be very frustrating and humiliating for those who experience it, but a change in diet has been proven to be a very effective part of its treatment. In fact, chances are some foods you’ve been consuming are causing this discomfort in the first place, and eliminating them from your diet is very likely to relieve your incontinence.
What is a Good Diet for Bowel Incontinence?
A generally well-balanced healthy diet is great if you are trying to find ways to improve the conditions of your bowel movements. However, a high-fiber diet can be especially beneficial to those who suffer from both diarrhea and constipation, both leading causes of bowel incontinence symptoms. Fibers help bowel movements by making stools bulky yet soft, but much easier to pass. There are also fiber supplements available that you can discuss potentially starting with your doctor.
However, different digestive systems have different reactions to certain foods, so most doctors and dieticians often recommend keeping a food diary to help ascertain which foods and drinks affect you the most. Keeping a log of your intake and bowel movements can help highlight patterns between certain foods and their effects, so that you may eventually discover the cause of the incontinence by the process of elimination.
What Foods are Good for Bowel Incontinence?
Bowel incontinence can be caused by either constipation or diarrhea, so often treatment would include dietary changes to relieve those two. The introduction of fiber into your diet can actually help aid in relieving both constipation and diarrhea, an excellent first step to getting your incontinence under control.
Foods that you can add to your diet that are high in fiber include:
- Bran cereals, muesli, oat cereals
- Uncooked fruits
- Uncooked Vegetables
- Whole grain breads
- Whole grain pasta
- Grains such as quinoa, rice, corn and chia
- Brown rice
- Seeds and nuts such as flax, sunflower, cashews and walnuts
Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, is also highly recommended for those who suffer from bowel incontinence, especially if their main problem is constipation. Drinking lots of water can help soften your stool making it easier to pass. Products?
Foods and Drinks to Avoid for Bowel Incontinence
If your bowel incontinence is caused by diarrhea, there are a number of foods you can avoid that may be instigating your inability to control your movements. Spicy foods, for example, often react with your digestive system and speed up the bowel movement process. Some people may be sensitive to milk products or caffeine, both of which could also be irritating the bowels and causing the stool to move faster through the digestive system. Many other kinds of foods may be triggering or causing your bowel incontinence to become worse.
Here are examples of foods you should try eliminating from your diet:
- Cured or smoked meats
- Spicy foods
- Fatty and greasy foods
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and ice cream
- Drinks and foods containing fructose
- Fruits such as apples, peaches, and pears
- Chocolates or candy
- Products, including candy and gum, with sweeteners ending in “–ol,” such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, and maltitol
When it comes to drinks, studies show that the most critical ones to avoid when one suffers from bowel incontinence are alcoholic drinks as well as caffeinated drinks. Your digestive system may be sensitive to caffeine, which is known to stimulate stool to move faster out of your body. Coffee is not the only drink containing caffeine, some teas as well as chocolates could contain some as well. Cutting down should be gradual, however, as quitting cold turkey may cause headaches and other undesirable issues.
Alcohol on the other hand, is known to result in soft and loose bowel movements, which are problematic when one is attempting to reduce problematic symptoms related to diarrhea. Studies have also shown that when ingested in large amounts, alcohol can have a very overwhelming effect on the gastrointestinal tract, leading to significant damage both in that tract as well as other organs. Although alcohol affects individuals’ digestive systems in different ways, it is still advised to avoid it altogether when one is attempting to alleviate harm resulting from bowel incontinence.
Below is a list of examples of drinks you should try eliminating from your diet:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Drinks containing caffeine
- Drinks containing fructose
If you're like most people, stopping caffeine out right can be a major challenge. Learn more about caffeine consumption and incontinence.
Besides food and drinks to avoid the harmful effects of incontinence, there are a number of other options that can help manage the condition, including products that absorb the leakage that can be worn such as incontinence pads or adult diapers, which are widely available on WellBefore.