[Diet and lifestyle rules in chronic constipation in adults: From fantasy to reality…]

Presse Med. 2017 Jan;46(1):23-30. doi: 10.1016/j.lpm.2016.03.019. Epub 2017 Jan 5.
[Article in French]


Chronic constipation is one of the most common chronic gastrointestinal complaints and a frequent reason for consultation. Lifestyle modification and dietary advice attract a lot of patients, often dissatisfied with a long-term drug intake. These behavioral modifications are recommended as a first-line approach in the treatment of chronic mild constipation in the majority of current guidelines despite a low level of evidence. Fiber supplementation is probably the most relevant measure because of a satisfactory level of proof. It improves stool frequency and consistency. It has a positive effect on excessive straining and colonic transit time. The recommended daily fiber intake is at least 20 to 25g. To avoid side effects like bloating and abdominal pain, it must be gradually adjusted after a several days period. The benefice of increasing water intake or daily physical exercise in the treatment of chronic constipation have a lack of evidence, except specific situations such as elderly, hospitalized, institutionalized, dehydrated people or people consuming fluids less than 500mL/day. Change in environmental defecation conditions or bowel habits are probably anecdotal recommendations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Constipation / classification
  • Constipation / diagnosis
  • Constipation / therapy*
  • Diet* / methods
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Directive Counseling
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*