Constipation while pregnant. How to solve the problem with dietary fiber

Dietary fiber is found in all plant materials. An adequate intake of dietary fiber is essential for proper gut function and regular laxation, and may also be related to reduced risk for a number of diseases, including heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes. The definition used for the AI is that dietary fibre includes non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs), resistant starch and lignin (a non-carbohydrate).Water-insoluble NSPs are the most important contributors to faecal weight. Increasing consumption of foods rich in these kinds of NSPs (such as wheat bran, cereals and vegetables) is an effective means of preventing and treating constipation, haemorrhoids, diverticular disease, irritable bowel syndrome and anal fissures. High intakes of NSPs may also protect against gallstones.

Water-soluble NSPs are found in peas, oats, dried beans, lentils, barley, pasta and fruit. They reduce the glycaemic index of carbohydrate foods, increase bile acid excretion and may reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. Soluble and viscous NSP components in diets may delay the absorption of sugars from food and improve metabolic control of glucose. NSP and resistant starch are fermented in the colon, where they stimulate the control of glucose and the proliferation of bacteria, resulting in bulky stools. They also have a laxative-promoting effect.

In pregnancy, high progesterone levels affect smooth muscle tone and result in a decreased rate of gastrointestinal transit. This decreased rate has advantages for nutrient absorption because gut contents are in contact with sites of absorption for longer, but water is also reabsorbed to a greater extent, which often results in constipation. Thus, adequate dietary fiber intake is particularly important during pregnancy to maintain regular bowel habits.

How to solve constipation while pregnant with dietary fiber? The adequate intake for dietary fiber intake for healthy pregnant women aged 19–50 years is 22 g per day, and 24 g per day for breastfeeding women (NHMRC 2006). To meet the recommended percent total energy from carbohydrates and the adequate intake for dietary fibre, low energy density and/or low glycaemic index food sources should be chosen (eg, wholegrain breads and cereals, fruit and vegetables) to ensure the nutritional quality of the overall diet.

Tips for Constipation During Pregnancy
Pregnant women should eat at least six servings daily of breads and cereals (preferably wholegrain) and breastfeeding women at least seven servings. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should eat at least six servings of well-washed vegetables and fruit. Eating the recommended number of servings of these foods will provide adequate carbohydrate and dietary fibre.
If snacks are needed to meet increased energy and nutritional requirements, choose foods from the breads and cereals, and the vegetables and fruit food groups.
Increase dietary fibre intake (along with increasing fluid intake and physical activity) if constipation is a problem.
Remember that plant foods such as wholegrain breads, cereals, vegetables, fruit and legumes are good sources of dietary fibre.
Water and trim milk should be consumed as the drinks of choice.
Flavoured waters, soft drinks, energy drinks and fruit drinks are a dietary source of sugar but supply very few other nutrients, and therefore intake should be limited.

11 Best Fiber Foods

 11 Best Fiber Foods
AVOCADOOne whole, medium avocado contains 17 grams of carbohydrate and a truly impressive 11 grams of fiber. That's almost half of the daily recommended minimum intake of fiber
ARTICHOKEA medium artichoke contains about 14 grams of carbs and 10 grams of fiber.
RASPBERRIES A cup of these delicate, vibrant berries contains 15 grams of carbs and 8 grams of fiber.
BLACKBERRIESA cup contains 15 grams of carbs and 8 grams of fiber.
LENTILS One half-cup of lentils contains about 10 grams of carbs and 8 grams of fiber.
BLACK BEANS A bit higher in carbs at 22 grams, a half-cup of black beans delivers a hearty 7 grams of fiber.
BROCCOLIOne cup of broccoli contains just 9 grams of carbs and a nice 6 grams of fiber.
PEARA medium pear contains 20 grams of carbs and 4.5 grams of fiber.
APPLEOne medium apple contains about 23 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fiber.
OATMEALA cup of cooked oatmeal contains 27 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fiber
BARLEY A half-cup of cooked pearl barley contains 22 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber.