Diet

Low Fiber Diet for Partial Bowel Obstruction

Overview

In general, adults in countries such as the United States don’t consume as much fiber as they should. However, Medline Plus reports that if you suffer from bowel obstruction, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, bowel inflammation, ulcerative colitis or have recently undergone gastrointestinal surgery, your doctor may recommend you consume a low-fiber diet.

Low Fiber Diet

According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, signs you have may have a bowel or intestinal obstruction include severe abdominal pain or cramping, loud bowel sounds, abdominal swelling, constipation, vomiting, bloating and inability to pass gas. See a doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms to determine if you need medical attention or require a low-fiber diet.

How Much Fiber?

Medline Plus reports that when following a low-fiber diet for medical reasons, you should try to limit your fiber intake to less than 10 to 15 grams of fiber each day. This amount of fiber is significantly less than the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommendation of 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 38 grams of fiber each day for men.

Avoid High-Fiber Foods

If you have a partial bowel obstruction, avoid high-fiber foods. These include the following:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes such as kidney beans, pinto beans, chick peas, black beans, lentils and navy beans
  • Raw fruits and vegetables with skins, seeds or membranes
  • Whole grain breads, whole-grain crackers, high-fiber cereals, oatmeal, quinoa, popcorn, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta

Choose Lower-Fiber Alternatives

When you have a partial bowel obstruction, replace high-fiber foods with lower-fiber alternatives. These include:

  • White bread, white rice, plain pasta, regular crackers, white rolls, cream of wheat and pancakes made with white flour
  • Canned or cooked fruits and vegetables without skin, membranes or seeds
  • Pulp-free fruit and vegetable juices
  • Lean meat, poultry and fish
  • Eggs
  • Smooth, creamy peanut butter
  • Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and regular cheese
  • Tofu, soy yogurt and soy milk
  • Soft, tub margarines and vegetable oils

Drink Plenty of Water

Consuming a low-fiber diet can lead to constipation. By drinking plenty of water you may be able to eliminate or reduce the severity of constipation when following a low-fiber diet for a partial bowel obstruction. Aim to drink at least a minimum of 8 cups of water each day, and more if you exercise.

Take a Multivitamin Supplement

Foods high in fiber are also generally high in other essential nutrients. For this reason, ask your doctor about taking a multivitamin supplement if you’re following a low-fiber diet, to help prevent nutrient deficiencies.

Considerations

Once your partial bowel obstruction improves or is treated, talk with your doctor about switching to a healthy higher-fiber eating plan. High-fiber diets are often beneficial for weight management, bowel regularity and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.

References

Medline Plus
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000200.htm

National Digestive Information Clearinghouse
http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/intestinaladhesions/

U.S. Department of Agriculture
http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/publications/dietaryguidelines/2010/policydoc/policydoc.pdf

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