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Bowl of colorful fruit with whole grain toast
Photo by Jannis Brandt on Unsplash

It’s that time of year when many of us are considering a diet change as a New Year’s Resolution. But with all of the wildly different diets out there, don’t let your new diet affect your pelvic floor health negatively.

Avoid Constipation

Constipation can contribute to pelvic pain, risk of prolapse, back pain, and pain with sex, among other issues.

As we’ve written about on this blog before, managing constipation is one of the cornerstones for maintaining pelvic health, especially if you suffer from pelvic pain, prolapse, or pain with sex. Constipation will lead to storage of old stool in the colon, which can contribute to pelvic, abdominal, and back pain. This added pressure can lead to pelvic floor tension and contribute to issues like pelvic pain and pelvic floor spasms. Last, but not least, constipation leads to straining on the toilet, which greatly increases your risk for issues like pelvic organ prolapse (read more about prolapse in this previous post).

To avoid constipation, try the following tips:

  • Exercise. Motion is lotion! Approximately 30 minutes of daily cardiovascular activity can help improve motility of intestinal waste.
  • Massage your belly. Abdominal lymphatic massage– a self-care technique we teach at the clinic, it is used to decrease the edema and bloat in the belly caused by IBS issues, constipation, loose stools, and pelvic pain.
  • Drink water! Your GI system needs water to keep things moving. Drink approximately 64 oz daily.
  • Take care of your body tissues. Stretch daily, use a foam roller to release tight spots and mobilize connective tissue, get monthly massages.

Eat Enough Fiber

What is fiber?

  • Fiber we get from our diet comes from plant cells we ingest which cannot be broken down by enzymes in the human digestive tract. The fiber helps us form healthy and easy to pass stools, which contribute to pelvic health. In fact, in a 2008 study by Shariati, Maceda, and Hale, they found that 1 cup of high fiber cereal daily helped study participants improve their pelvic floor function and bowel regularity. For stools that are easy to pass and healthy for the pelvic floor, it is important to have both types of: water-soluble and water insoluble.

  • Soluble Fiber
    Water-soluble fibers absorb water during digestion and help increase stool bulk and can help “gel” soft or watery stools. Soluble fiber may also decrease blood cholesterol levels. Find soluble in fruits (apples, peaches, pears), vegetables, legumes (dry beans, lentils and peas), barley, oats and oat bran.

  • Insoluble Fiber
    Water-insoluble fibers remain unchanged during digestion and help movement and motility of your stool through the GI tract. Find insoluble fiber in the edible peel or seeds of fruits and vegetables, in whole grain products (such as whole-wheat bread, pasta and crackers), bulgur wheat, stone ground corn meal, cereals, bran, rolled oats, buckwheat and brown rice.

How much fiber should you be eating?

The American Heart Association recommends a total dietary fiber intake of 25 to 30 grams a day from food, not supplements. The average adult in the United States has about 15 grams of fiber a day. That's about half the recommended amount.

Some Tips To Increase Dietary Fiber

  • High Fiber Cereal— In a 2008 study by Shariati, Maceda, and Hale, they found that 1 cup of high fiber cereal daily was enough to help study participants improve their pelvic floor function and bowel regularity.
  • Whole Grains- Try to include at least one serving of whole grain in every meal. Use whole-wheat flour when possible in your cooking and baking. Cook with brown rice instead of white rice. If the switch is hard to make, start by mixing them together.
  • Beans- Add kidney beans, garbanzos or other bean varieties to your salads or soups. Dip veggies into hummus or a white bean dip.
  • Fruits and Veggies – Try adding a green smoothie to your diet to increase your intake of fruits and veggies : 1 ½ c. spinach, kale or dark greens; 1 c almond milk; 3 TBS ground flax seed; 1 banana; ½ cup or frozen berries.

And as always, if you need any help with your pelvic floor, please don’t hesitate to call us and schedule an appointment today.

Resources

Shariati A, Maceda JS, Hale DS. High-fiber diet for treatment of constipation in women with pelvic floor disorders. Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Apr;111(4):908-13. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000308660.48204.7f. PMID: 18378750.

Arya LA, Novi JM, Shaunik A, Morgan MA, Bradley CS. Pelvic organ prolapse, constipation, and dietary fiber intake in women: a case-control study. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2005 May;192(5):1687-91. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2004.11.032. PMID: 15902178.

UCSF Health: Increasing Fiber Intake (2020).

https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/increasing-fiber-intake#:~:text=Total%20dietary%20fiber%20intake%20should,about%20half%20the%20recommended%20amount.

What Our Patients Have to Say

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Testimonial by Lauren B.

Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) has been such an answer to prayer, i'm so glad I found them! I've been struggling with vaginismus my whole life, but didn't have a name for it until about 6 or 7 months ago. Even once I did have a name for it though, I didn't know where to begin in getting help. My OB/GYN had me get a set of dilators, but I couldn't even insert the smallest one by myself. Most times I tried I just ended up frustrated and in tears. I felt really alone, like I was broken and didn't have the energy to keep trying. When I got engaged a few months ago though, I realized I needed to get answers so i wasn't dreading my honeymoon.

Read more: Testimonial by Lauren B.

Testimonial by J.H.

My last appointment with Heather was over 6 years ago but I still think of her every day. I don’t take for granted that I can easily get out of bed, care for my two active and busy young boys, run, play tennis, clean my house, or sit at a desk for several hours at a time. None of these tasks were easy for me before meeting Heather. Eight years ago my car was struck from behind by a tractor trailer that was estimated to have been speeding. I spent 3 years working with different PTs and Drs trying to heal and move on with my life. When I became pregnant and the hormone relaxin that “relaxes” all the joints of the body and the additional weight gain erased all my progress and I was suddenly in a lot of pain again. My OB sent me to Heather for one last try.

Read more: Testimonial by J.H.

Testimonial by S.H., age 24

I just wanted to thank you for everything you've done for me for the past 19 months. I literally could not have reached my goals without you and your practice. You gave me the courage to keep moving forth with my treatment no matter how afraid and anxious I was. You were always there to answer questions and made this whole process so much easier than I expected it to be.

It's because of you that my marriage is on the right track, that I can get pregnant and that this part of my life is finally over. I really feel that Fusion Wellness is a team of people you can call family and are there to root for you and cheer you on until you reach your goals. There is nothing better than knowing I accomplished this with you guys by my side and as calmly and patiently as I needed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for always being there and helping me reach my goals.

S.H., age 24

Testimonial by S.P., Age 26

I would like to start off by thanking Heather Jeffcoat for educating me and curing me of Vaginismus. I had been married for almost three years before I was referred to Heather. I never knew about Vaginismus until almost three years into my marriage. I knew something was wrong when I went on my honeymoon and came back a Virgin. I had always imagined how magical my first night would be but boy was I wrong.

Read more: Testimonial by S.P., Age 26

Testimonial by Y.L. (mom of 2)

After having my second baby via C-section I searched for months to try to find help for my lower back pain and separated abdominal muscles. I finally came across Heather Jeffcoat via a mommy blog. I reached out to her via email and set my first appointment. My first appointment went amazing … she listened to what my symptoms, check my separation and explained to me in detail what the next steps would be. Not only did my abdominal separation go from 3 to about 1 -1/2 but my back has pain has significantly reduced. I’m personally recommending all my mommy friends to Heather!

Y.L. (mom of 2)

Testimonial by P.M.

I was hopeful but frankly skeptical when the doctor treating me for Interstitial Cystitis recommended that I go to Heather for physical therapy. Medication and diet helped control my IC symptoms, but I had never heard of physical therapy being used to treat IC. The education and treatment I received from Heather was a revelation. She explained that the pain I experienced with IC had helped create a cycle of muscle guarding which affected the entire pelvic area. I had no idea of the amount of tension being held there. No wonder my husband and I had not been able to have sexual intercourse for years!

Read more: Testimonial by P.M.

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