What foods help with bowel incontinence?
If you've ever found yourself looking for ways to solve the delicate matter of bowel incontinence, you'll know that the role of diet can be a game-changer. In this blog post, we'll see how the things that sit in your cupboard and fridge can help you take charge of your bowel health and overall bowel function.
- What should I eat if I have bowel incontinence?
- Fibre-rich food
- Vitamin D-rich food
- What should I avoid eating if I have bowel incontinence?
- Caffeine and alcohol
- Spicy food
- Processed/greasy food
What should I eat if I have bowel incontinence?
Working towards healthier, more predictable bowel movements starts with what's on our plate. A healthy diet isn't just a buzzword; it's a pillar in the fight against issues like chronic constipation and accidental bowel leakage. Let's discuss the elements of a balanced diet and the role this plays in steering you towards better bowel health.
Dietary fibre is key to good bowel health in a few ways. It comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fibre dissolves in water and becomes gel-like, softening stools and making stools softer. Insoluble fibre adds bulks to your stool, preventing constipation and supporting overall bowel function.
High-fibre foods include:
- Whole grains (oats, quinoa, brown rice)
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
- Legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans)
Sometimes, meeting your daily fibre through meals alone can be a challenge. This is where fibre supplements step in, offering a convenient way to bridge the gap of your dietary fibre.
Vitamin D-rich food
When it comes to managing issues like bowel incontinence (also known as faecal incontinence), Vitamin D in your diet can do a world of good.
This essential vitamin isn't just good for strengthening bones; it regulates and supports muscle function - including those responsible for bowel movements like your pelvic floor muscle and the sphincter muscles.
Vitamin D-rich foods include:
- Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, trout)
- Fortified foods (milk, orange juice, some cereals)
Like Vitamin D, protein helps build your muscles, including those involved in bowel function. A protein-rich diet supports the integrity and strength of these muscles, whilst encouraging you to eat more healthy foods.
Similarly, healthy proteins help regulate blood sugar levels that prevent sudden urges or irregularities in bowel movements.
Protein-rich foods include:
- Lean meats (chicken, turkey, fish)
- Seeds and nuts
- Beans and lentils
- Milk and cheese
What should I avoid if I have bowel incontinence?
Regaining control over your bowel habits involves not only what you eat but what you avoid in your diet. When it comes to managing bowel incontinence, there are some common kitchen no-go's that are the enemy of good bowel control.
Caffeine and alcohol
Whilst staying hydrated with plenty of fluids is a well-known ally in the fight against bowel incontinence, caffeine and alcohol are two exceptions.
Whilst caffeine is often a much-needed pick me up for the 9-5, it can also stimulate bowel movements. This can be a particular issue if you grapple with bowel incontinence.
Similarly, whilst alcohol can be a social boon, it also acts as a diuretic which leads to dehydration; not ideal when striving for bowel function. Many alcoholic drinks contain sugar alcohols which spell further trouble if you have a sensitive gut.
Examples of caffeinated and alcoholic drinks include:
- Coffee and tea
- Fizzy drinks (i.e. cola drinks)
- Energy drinks
- Soft drinks
- Wine, beer, spirits
Spicing up your meals can certainly add a burst of flavour to your diet, but in the realm of managing good bowel habits, it pays to tread carefully.
Despite their unique flavours and zest, spice can often bring about unintended consequences for those suffering with bowel urgency.
This is due to a compound in spicy foods responsible for the heat, called capsaicin. Despite some clear health benefits, large amounts of capsaicin can trigger unwanted bowel urgency in people living with incontinence.
Example of spicy food include:
- Chillies and peppers
- Hot sauces
Processed and greasy foods - laden with additives and preservatives - disrupt the delicate balance of the gut, playing a major part in challenges related to bowel control.
Let's break down the myriad of other reasons why greasy foods are to be avoided if you live with poor bowel health.
Firstly, the high fat content can be challenging for the gut to break down, leading to delayed or infrequent bowel movements. The lack of fibre in these foods also makes them sluggish during digestion, whilst the excessive salt dehydrates, and the oil can inflame the digestive tract.
All of this to say that deep-fried food is the enemy of good bowel and digestive health, and more nutrient-dense choices should be considered at every turn if you want to maintain control over your bowel continence.
Managing bowel incontinence on the regular
It's clear that our dietary intake can influence the management of bowel symptoms, recognising what to eat as well as what to avoid is ideal for optimal bowel health. If you're struggling to balance all of these food requirements in your diet, consider a food diary to identify patterns and potential triggers.
And whilst your diet is important, the supportive role of incontinence products in the daily maintenance of bowel incontinence can't be understated. From pads to protective underwear, they provide a sense of security and confidence that lets you navigate daily life without constant concern.
Take control with Incontinence Shop
If you're struggling with bowel incontinence and are seeking cost-effective solutions that improve your comfort and dignity, then look no further than incontinence pads from Incontinence Shop.
What's more, if you subscribe to your incontinence product of choice, then you can enjoy 10% off every order as well as convenient doorstep delivery.