It may be an occasional leak or a more frequent inability to control your anal sphincter, but the result — fecal incontinence — can be a frustrating and isolating condition. Often brought on by muscle or nerve damage associated with childbirth, fecal incontinence may also connect with issues like diarrhea, constipation, or hemorrhoids.
Our team at Southeast Urogyn specializes in the treatment of fecal incontinence. We can help determine the underlying causes affecting you and match the best treatment strategies to your situation.
In addition to medical solutions, dietary changes may help to control and reduce your symptoms. Consider these diet modifications to improve your condition.
The role of fiber
The foods you eat play a crucial role in how your body processes waste, and dietary fiber intake may be the most important player when it comes to regaining control over bowel function. Both constipation and diarrhea can lead to fecal incontinence, and fiber can help control both conditions.
Coming from the parts of plant-based foods that aren’t digested or absorbed, fiber helps to keep your digestive system moving, though it doesn’t contribute nutrients before passing through your body. While many people look to fiber as a solution for constipation, it can also help to form the loose, watery stool of diarrhea into a normal firm yet soft consistency.
Fiber has two forms based on how it interacts with water. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance known to lower blood cholesterol and balance blood sugar levels. Common soluble fibers include apples, barley, beans, carrots, citrus, and oats.
Insoluble fiber comes from foods like beans, cauliflower, nuts, and whole grains, and it promotes digestive regularity. Providing bulk to the waste matter moving through your intestines, insoluble fiber helps to keep stool consistency stable.
Reducing diarrhea risk
Increasing fiber consumption typically resolves constipation and helps reduce diarrhea. There are also other factors that may contribute to the loose stools associated with diarrhea. Removing some or all of these elements of your diet can boost the effects of increased fiber intake.
When diarrhea contributes to or causes your fecal incontinence, reduce or eliminate these foods and drinks:
- Artificial sweeteners sorbitol and xylitol
- Caffeine from coffee, cola, chocolate, and tea
- Dairy products with lactose
- High-fat foods, including deep-fried foods and fatty meats
- Gas-producing foods like apples, beans, broccoli, and cabbage
- Products with nicotine
- Foods and drinks with high sugar content
Because of the volume of liquid that your body can lose through diarrhea, keep up your fluid intake levels to offset this loss. Dehydration is a common complication of diarrhea.
While dietary changes may not eliminate fecal incontinence, they do encourage consistent stools that are easier to control. Regardless of the causes of your incontinence or the treatments, healthy bowel function helps in the journey toward fecal control.
Call our nearest office — Madison or Flowood, Mississippi — to schedule an exam and consultation. It’s the first step in winning the battle against fecal incontinence, so book your appointment today.