Do Dietary Fats Help with Constipation?

Dietary fats may be a major factor deciding the texture and consistency of stools. It is a fact that excess fats can cause diarrhea whereas a low fat diet can cause


. Dietary fat have always been looked down upon as far as health benefits are concerned. But it is a myth that all fats are bad. In fact, fat aids in the assimilation of nutrients in the body.

Vegetable oils like that of castor oil, canola oil etc have been used as laxatives for ages. The same is true for animal fat like butter and lard. The mechanism is simple. When large amounts of fat are ingested, all of it cannot be broken down by the digestive enzymes. Hence, a large part of it remains undigested. The undigested fat causes a malabsorption of fluids in the intestine. The fluids cannot be absorbed in the intestine and is surged down with a force down the rectum. The result is a diarrhea like situation.


However, vegetable oils are not the recommended choice of laxatives as far as


is concerned. The reasons behind the above statement are as follows:

  • It may bring about a general dehydration as fluids are malabsorbed in the intestine.
  • Oil based laxatives may cause difficulty in controlling the defecation urge and may result in soiling of undergarments or fecal incontinence.
  • Malabsorption of fats may also cause the malabsorption of fat soluble vitamins in the body.These vitamins are necessary for the general maintenance of the body.
  • Vegetable and mineral oils may contain various additives like carcinogenic transfats, chemicals that could cause allergies etc. Mineral oils can also cause severe poisoning.
  • Oil laxatives can also worsen


    by coating hardened stools and preventing them from being broken down by the pressure of surging fluids. A large mass of compacted bowel is formed. Fluids pass around it causing diarrhea but it becomes hard for the mass to be discharged.

Low dietary fat on the other hand can cause further problems. Dietary fats are essential for the secretion of bile from the gall bladder to the small intestine. Bile is also essential to stimulate peristalsis (muscular movement of the muscles of the intestine which pushes the food forward) which is a key component of defecation.

So dietary fats are essential to control the defecation of stools from the body and helps determine whether they would be hard or soft.


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