What Foods Help with Bowel Incontinence?
Vegetables, fruits, and meats rich in fiber, magnesium, and protein are some of the primary foods that can help with bowel incontinence.
The foods you eat play an essential role in managing bowel and urinary incontinence. If you want to keep your bowels healthy, you should consume a lot of fiber-rich foods and fluids.
Keep reading to find out the foods that help with bowel incontinence.
What Is Bowel Incontinence?
Bowel incontinence is the loss of standard control over your bowel movements, leading to soiling. It's also referred to as fecal incontinence. The common cause for this condition can be diarrhea or constipation, or other reasons outside of your digestive system like anxiety or emotional stress, muscle damage, and nerve injury. You're likely to experience the following if you have fecal incontinence:
- Chronic constipation
- Bowel urgency
- Chronic diarrhea
- Leaking stool or mucus
- Anal pain, itching, or bleeding
- Pressure in rectum
- Anxiety, including social anxiety, depression, and other mental health-related issues.
Making dietary changes can improve your bowel movements. A healthy and well-balanced diet recommended by your doctor or dietitian can help you manage fecal incontinence.
Foods That Help with Bowel Incontinence
Eating high-fiber foods can make bowel function easier. This is especially true for people with fecal incontinence caused by hemorrhoids or constipation. Fiber is categorized by two kinds: soluble and insoluble fibers. Soluble fiber can be found in vegetables and legumes, while insoluble fiber is found in whole-grain cereals.
Monitoring your fluid intake is also a big part of dietary changes that many don't consider. Drinking only small amounts of water can lead to dehydration and highly concentrated urine, and potentially result in bladder irritation later on.
On the other hand, drinking fluids in excess can result in an overactive bladder. It's best to seek advice from a doctor who can recommend the appropriate amount of fluids for you to take.
Let's get into the details. Below is a list of foods recommended to alleviate your incontinence symptoms:
1. Fiber-Rich Foods
Constipation is caused by low fiber intake and can worsen bowel incontinence. Consider taking foods high in dietary fiber. high fiber foods:
- Beans (e.g., kidney beans, lentils, black beans, pinto beans, split peas, and chickpeas)
- Raw vegetables such as cabbage and tomato
- Whole grain crackers
- Whole grain cereals
- Whole grain bread
A fiber supplement may also come in handy if dietary intake is insufficient.
2. Magnesium-Rich Vegetables
Magnesium-rich vegetables that help bowel incontinence include potatoes, corn, kale, spinach, and mustard greens.
Protein-rich foods are highly recommended for incontinence, including fish, fresh lead meat, and shellfish.
Both fresh and dried fruits are a good addition to your diet for bowel incontinence issues. Try some avocados, blueberries, and pears, and nuts like chestnuts and hazelnuts.
We don't mean spicy foods! Spicy foods can affect your bladder if you have bowel incontinence. However, you can use other friendly spices, such as dill, garlic, thyme, and rosemary.
6. Vitamin D-rich Foods
You can avoid pelvic floor disorders and bowel incontinence by keeping your vitamin D level regulated by adding foods that can help are eggs, fish, and fortified milk (unless you're lactose intolerant).
7. Caffeine Replacements
Consume less chocolate, coffee, and tea if you have bowel or urinary incontinence. Try low-acid coffee, non-carbonated decaf drinks, white chocolate, and non-citrus herbal teas instead.
8. Alternative Drinks
Apart from water, some drinks tend to be neutral. Try juices like apple, cherry, and grape juice as alternatives to supplement your daily fluid intake.
Food and Drinks That Worsen Bowel Incontinence
Different eating habits and foods can significantly affect your bowel movement. Making dietary changes isn't just about adding healthy foods to your diet, but also about removing certain foods and drinks that worsen your symptoms, like these:
Caffeinated Foods and drinks
Caffeine stimulates your bowels. Caffeine intake gives you a strong urge to urinate, prompting your body to eliminate fluids. You can remove or reduce caffeinated foods and drinks like coffee, tea, chocolate, and carbonated beverages from your diet.
You're likely to urinate more when you drink alcoholic beverages, which means your bowel and urinary incontinence issues are likely to worsen since it will be harder for you to manage their symptoms.
Avoiding spicy foods can help minimize the effects of bowel incontinence since they can irritate your bowel lining and increase urinary incontinence issues.
Furthermore, they affect your stool by accelerating the time it takes to move through your bowel.
Dairy products can irritate your bladder. Lactose makes your stools loose, causing worsened symptoms of fecal incontinence. Whey and casein can aggravate your colon, while creamy cheeses loosen your stool.
Processed and Greasy Foods
You should avoid processed and greasy foods. Some processed foods have additives, artificial flavors, and preservatives, which can easily irritate your bladder, causing incontinence issues.
Greasy foods are cooked in oil that oxidizes at high temperatures and contains trans fat. Fast food like french fries and fried chicken are quickly digested and excreted from the body, resulting in possible diarrhea.
It would be best if you consumed the following in moderation since they can cause incontinence issues:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Corn syrup
Acidic substances from coffee, vinegar, carbonated drinks, dark chocolate, citrus fruits and drinks, and pineapples can irritate your bladder. An irritated bladder can increase one's urge to urinate.
Cranberries, although beneficial for bladder infections, are also acidic and do not go well with an overactive bladder.
Blood pressure medications, muscle relaxants, sedatives, and heart medications, are some of the treatments that can worsen your incontinence problems. Before getting on any of these medications, inform your doctor about your incontinence issues.
Caffeine-free fizzy drinks can also aggravate your bladder since these products contain carbon dioxide.
Treatment Options for Bowel Incontinence
Apart from diet, there are other ways to manage fecal incontinence and reduce its harmful effects on your day-to-day routines. The following are treatment options that can help you deal with bowel incontinence:
- Prescribed medicine that alleviates constipation and diarrhea.
- Regular pelvic floor exercises that strengthen muscles that control bowel movements.
- Dietary fiber supplements to make your stool less loose. These fiber supplements come in pills or powder form.
- High fluid intake can reduce the effects of bowel incontinence, however be sure to consult a doctor if you have heart, liver, or kidney disease before increasing fluid intake.
- You can also use incontinence products. You can put on foam plugs or wear pads to prevent stool leakage.
If these treatments don't work, it's recommended to contact your family doctor or other health professionals where alternative treatment options may be prescribed.
Most people with bowel incontinence feel uncomfortable and ashamed of their condition. They avoid socializing from their fears about leaking in public and getting humiliated.
Fecal incontinence can also affect your ability to enjoy work and if left untreated, it can lead to infections, skin rashes, and other problems. It's essential to avoid consuming food and drink that can aggravate symptoms of bowel incontinence.