Fruits, vegetables, legumes and pulses are a source of fibre in our diets, which is important for multiple reasons.
Having enough fibre is linked to regular bowel movements and can decrease the risk of constipation and constipation-related bowel obstructions (especially important in those with colostomies and ileostomies). Consuming fibre helps slow down blood sugar rises after meals and can keep us feeling fuller for longer, this can be very helpful to those with diabetes or for people wanting to lose weight. Fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils also contain vitamins and minerals e.g. Vitamin C, important for a healthy immune system and skin health (especially healing after surgery).
Fresh, frozen, tinned, juiced or dried all count towards your ‘5 a day’ fruits and vegetables target. For juices or smoothies, 150ml is a portion and it’s best to not go over this regularly as it can increase the amount of sugars and can lead to weight gain. For dried fruit, ~30g or a cupped palm-full is a portion. For other portions of fruits or vegetables (fresh, frozen or tinned), this is usually 80g, however 1 handful or 3 tablespoons are other ways to check if you’re getting a full portion. It is best to achieve your ‘5 a day’ by choosing 5 different types as this means you’ll get a variety of different nutrients.
After any stoma formation (including urostomies, jejunostomies, ileostomies and colostomies), there is no strong clinical evidence that a low-fibre diet is required. However, those with ileostomies may require up to 6-8 weeks before their bowel has settled, and they can begin testing their tolerance to their normal intake of fruits and vegetables. For jejunostomies, having a lower fibre diet is likely needed 6-8 weeks after surgery and this may be longer or ongoing. It is often recommended that while someone is not eating their full diet, especially when restricting fruits and vegetables, that a complete multivitamin and mineral product e.g. Sanatogen A-Z Complete or Boots A-Z Complete is taken daily. Before taking any new supplement products, discuss with your Doctor (e.g. GP) as taking supplements unnecessarily can over-load our bodies causing toxicity problems – if in doubt, check with your GP or Registered Dietitian.