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How the Low-Residue Diet Can Help With Your Digestive Disorder

How the Low-Residue Diet Can Help With Your Digestive Disorder

If you have a digestive ailment or are scheduled for a procedure that requires bowel rest, our team at Digestive Disorders Associates may recommend a low-residue diet. 

This diet limits foods with lots of roughage, like fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. Normally, gastroenterologists recommend getting plenty of dietary fiber to help stool move through your system easily so you avoid constipation. However, when you have certain digestive ailments, then frequent, large bowel movements are uncomfortable and potentially irritating.

Here’s when we recommend you follow a low-residue diet and how it can help you. 

When you might need a low-residue diet

Residue refers to the various bits of undigested food and waste that end up in your colon following digestion in the small intestine. Fiber doesn’t get digested in your gastrointestinal system, so it makes up a large part of this residue, and thus your stool. 

A low-residue diet isn’t just about reducing fiber, though. Dairy, for example, has some residue that ends up in your stool, too. 

When you follow a low-residue diet, you’ll have fewer bowel movements per week. These bowel movements will also be smaller. 

What to eat on a low-residue diet

You want to make sure foods are prepared so they’re soft and easy to digest. Poaching, simmering, and braising are good ways to ensure food is palatable, but easy on your intestines.

Foods that are okay are most meats, poultry, fish, and shellfish. Eggs and tofu are also acceptable. 

Round out your low-residue meals with:

You’ll need to avoid whole grains (like oatmeal, popcorn, and brown or wild rice), seeds, nuts, beans, lentils, dried fruit, cheese and milk products, and the skins or peels of most fruits and vegetables. 

How this diet can help you

A low-residue diet is usually a short-term eating plan that’s used to prepare you for a procedure or rest your gut from inflammation. 

Prepare for procedures 

If you’re going to have abdominal surgery, your surgeon may recommend a low-residue diet for a few days followed by fasting the night of surgery to keep your digestive tract free.

A low-residue diet also clears your colon in advance of a colonoscopy. Of course, the day before, you’ll be on a clear liquid diet only.

Hemorrhoids can be aggravated by large, frequent stools. If you’re going in for treatment for these irritations, a low-residue diet means smaller, softer stools that are easier to pass until your hemorrhoids heal. 

Soothe digestive conditions

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, causes serious inflammation in your intestines. If you’re having a major flare-up, a low-residue diet can help your large and small intestines rest so the inflammation calms down. 

Diverticulitis involves inflammation of your diverticula, which are small pouches in the colon. If you have a particularly bad bout of diverticulitis, a low-residue diet can help the pouches heal and calm your symptoms. 

Gastroparesis, which is delayed gastric emptying, leads to slower bowel motility and increases your risk of constipation. A low-residue diet means you have fewer stools and they’re smaller, so it’s easier for your body to process the foods.

Our team at Digestive Disorders Associates helps you find the special diet needed to ease digestive symptoms and promote good health. To set up an appointment, contact one of our offices in Gambrills, Chester, or Annapolis, Maryland, or use this website to reach out.

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