Constipation: Natural Relief Through The Right Foods And Supplements

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Constipation is a common digestive issue that can cause discomfort and disrupt your daily routine. Whether it’s due to a lack of dietary fiber, dehydration, or certain medications, finding relief from constipation is essential to achieving a good quality of life. In this article, we’ll explore the various benefits of a range of nutritional supplements for managing constipation. These supplements can offer natural support to help you maintain regularity and ease digestive discomfort without relying on harsh laxatives. Discover how the right supplements can promote healthy bowel movements and improve your quality of life.

What Is Constipation?

Constipation is a common digestive issue that many people experience at some point in their lives. It occurs when bowel movements become infrequent, difficult, or painful, often resulting in the passage of hard and dry stools. This condition can vary in severity, and it has many causes.

Many health professionals recommend regular bowel movements to prevent the reabsorption of toxins and maintain optimal digestive health

The “normal” frequency of bowel movements can vary among individuals. For many people, having a bowel movement every day is their regular pattern and is considered normal for them. However, others may have a healthy digestive system and feel comfortable with less frequent bowel movements, even if it’s not every day.

Normal can differ from person to person. That said, the general guideline is that having fewer than three bowel movements a week is often considered a sign of constipation. Yet, it’s important to consider other factors such as stool consistency, straining, and discomfort when deciding whether someone is experiencing constipation.

Ultimately, what’s most crucial is paying attention to your body’s signals and recognizing any changes in your usual bowel habits. If you notice persistent changes, discomfort, or other concerning symptoms, consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and guidance on managing your digestive health.

Constipation is characterized by bowel movements less than three times a week and hard, dry, or lumpy stools [1]. The prevalence of constipation ranges from 7 to 10% in adults, and the prevalence varies by age [23]. Furthermore, the incidence of constipation is different between man and women, with 6% higher in women than that of men [4]. Constipation is associated with poor quality of life, resulting in anxiety, depression, and cognitive impairment [56]. Besides, constipation elevates healthcare burden. The cost of constipation treatment is estimated over $230 million each year in America [7]. 

Association between overall dietary quality and constipation in American adults: a cross-sectional study [PMC9615246]

Factors That Contribute to Constipation:

  • Inadequate Dietary Fiber: A diet that lacks an adequate amount of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can significantly increase the risk of constipation. Fiber plays a crucial role in maintaining regular bowel movements by adding bulk to stool and making it softer, which eases its passage through the digestive tract.
  • Lack of Hydration: Staying adequately hydrated is essential for preventing constipation. When the body lacks sufficient fluids, the colon absorbs more water from the stool, making it dry, hard, and difficult to pass. Drinking enough water throughout the day is vital for maintaining healthy bowel function.
  • Lack of Physical Activity: A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to constipation by slowing down the digestive process. Physical activity and exercise help stimulate the muscles in the digestive tract, promoting regular bowel movements. Incorporating regular physical activity into one’s routine can be beneficial for preventing and alleviating constipation.
  • Medications: Some medications have constipation as a potential side effect. These may include certain pain relievers, antacids containing aluminum or calcium, and specific antidepressants. If constipation is a concern while taking these medications, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare provider for potential solutions or alternative treatments.
  • Underlying Medical Conditions: Chronic constipation can be a symptom of underlying medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), thyroid disorders, or neurological disorders. It’s essential to consider the possibility of an underlying medical issue if constipation persists or becomes a recurring problem.
  • Ignoring the Urge: Suppressing the urge to have a bowel movement, whether due to inconvenience or other reasons, can lead to constipation over time. The body’s signals should be heeded, and delaying a trip to the restroom can disrupt the natural rhythm of bowel movements.
  • Changes in Routine: Travel, alterations in daily routines, or disruptions in regular meal schedules can impact bowel regularity. These changes can affect the body’s internal clock and digestive processes, potentially leading to constipation during such periods. Sticking to a consistent routine as much as possible and paying attention to dietary and hydration needs can help mitigate these effects.

What Food and Lifestyle Factors Are Important For Managing Constipation?

  • High-Fiber Diet: Incorporating plenty of fiber-rich foods into your diet is essential for managing constipation. Fiber adds bulk to the stool, making it softer and easier to pass. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts are excellent sources of dietary fiber.
    • Recommended Daily Fiber Intake: The recommended daily fiber intake varies depending on age and gender. On average, adults should aim for at least 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. However, individual needs may differ, so it’s essential to consider your specific dietary requirements.
    • Gradual Increase: If you’re not accustomed to a high-fiber diet, it’s advisable to gradually increase your fiber intake. Rapidly increasing fiber intake can lead to bloating and discomfort.
    • Variety of Fiber Sources: Consume a variety of fiber-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans and lentils), nuts, and seeds. Each of these food groups offers different types of fiber that can contribute to overall digestive health.
      • Prune Extract: Prune extract supplements or dried prunes can be effective for relieving constipation due to their natural laxative properties. Prunes are high in fiber and sorbitol, a sugar alcohol known to have a mild laxative effect.
      • Chia Seeds and Flaxseeds: Chia seeds and flaxseeds are sources of insoluble fiber, which adds bulk to stool and promotes regular bowel movements. These seeds also provide healthy fats and essential nutrients, making them a nutrient-rich choice. They can be incorporated into smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal.
      • Whole Grains: Opt for whole grains like whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, and oats instead of refined grains. Whole grains contain more fiber and nutrients, making them a better choice for promoting regular bowel movements.
      • Fruit and Vegetable Skins: When appropriate, leave the skins on fruits and vegetables, as they often contain a significant portion of the fiber. For example, apples, cucumbers, and potatoes with skins are excellent sources of fiber.
      • Legumes: Incorporate legumes like beans, lentils, and chickpeas into your meals regularly. They are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, promoting healthy digestion.
  • Limiting Processed Foods: Processed foods that are high in fats and sugars and low in fiber can contribute to constipation. Reducing the consumption of these types of foods and opting for whole, unprocessed options can be beneficial.
  • Adequate Hydration: Staying well-hydrated is crucial for maintaining regular bowel movements. Insufficient fluid intake can lead to dry and hard stools, exacerbating constipation. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your digestive system functioning optimally.
    • Adequate Daily Water Intake: Ensure you’re drinking enough water daily to support proper digestion and soften stool. Aim for about 8 to 10 cups (64-80 ounces) of water per day, but individual hydration needs may vary based on factors like age, climate, and physical activity level.
    • Consistent Hydration: Sip water throughout the day rather than consuming large amounts all at once. Staying consistently hydrated can help maintain healthy bowel function.
    • Balancing Fiber and Water: When increasing your fiber intake, it’s crucial to simultaneously increase your water intake. Fiber absorbs water, so consuming enough fluids is essential to prevent stools from becoming too hard.
    • Hydration from Foods: Remember that foods with high water content, such as fruits (e.g., watermelon, oranges) and vegetables (e.g., cucumbers, lettuce), contribute to your overall hydration. Including these in your diet can help meet your daily water needs.
    • Avoid Excessive Caffeine and Alcohol: Excessive consumption of caffeine and alcohol can lead to dehydration. If you consume these beverages, be mindful of balancing them with adequate water intake.
    • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to your body’s signals for thirst. Thirst is a natural indicator that it’s time to hydrate. Responding to thirst cues can help maintain proper hydration levels.
  • Regular Physical Activity: Engaging in regular physical activity and exercise can help stimulate the muscles in the digestive tract, promoting bowel regularity. Even moderate daily activities like walking can have a positive impact on your digestive health.
  • Practicing Good Toilet Habits: Pay attention to your body’s signals and respond promptly to the urge to have a bowel movement. Avoid delaying trips to the restroom, because suppressing the urge can lead to constipation over time.
    • Establishing a Routine: Consistency in daily routines, including meal schedules and sleep patterns, can contribute to regular bowel movements. Try to maintain a regular routine to support your body’s natural rhythm.
  • Adding Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help regulate gut health. They may assist in maintaining a balanced gut microbiome and supporting regular bowel movements. Consider incorporating probiotic-rich foods like yogurt or kefir into your diet or taking probiotic supplements.
  • Fiber Supplements: In some cases, adding fiber supplements to your diet may be necessary to increase fiber intake. These supplements can be useful, but it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any supplementation.
  • Chewing and Mindful Eating: Eating slowly and mindfully can aid in proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Chewing food thoroughly and savoring each bite can contribute to improved digestive health.
  • Consulting a Healthcare Provider: If constipation persists or becomes chronic despite dietary and lifestyle changes, it’s very important to consult with a healthcare provider, especially if there has been a change in bowel habits. Providers can help identify underlying causes, recommend appropriate treatments or medications, and provide personalized guidance for managing constipation effectively.

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This article aims to offer valuable insights into which nutritional supplements have undergone scientific study and shown promise in supporting specific health conditions. We break down the research, so you can work with your medical providers to make informed decisions about adding supplements to your health regimen. For personalized advice tailored to your needs, we recommend consulting with a registered dietitian in addition to your primary care provider.

Check with your physician when adding supplements. While supplements are generally safe for most people, do not add nutritional supplements without your physician’s specific approval if you are pregnant or nursing, are undergoing cancer treatment, have a history of organ transplant, liver or kidney disease, or take medications that interact with supplements.


Nutritional supplements can play a supportive role in managing constipation, but it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian before adding any supplements to your routine. Here are some nutritional supplements that may be recommended for constipation:

  • Fiber Supplements: Fiber supplements, such as psyllium husk (Metamucil), methylcellulose (Citrucel), or wheat dextrin (Benefiber), can help increase daily fiber intake. These supplements work by adding bulk to stool, making it softer and easier to pass.
    • Psyllium Husk (Metamucil): Psyllium husk is a soluble fiber that absorbs water in the gut, forming a gel-like substance. Psyllium husk is gentle and well-tolerated by most people. It can also help lower cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar, making it beneficial for heart health and diabetes management. [PMC6358997]
    • Methylcellulose (Citrucel): Methylcellulose is another soluble fiber that works similarly to psyllium husk by increasing stool bulk and softness. It’s known for its gentle and non-fermentable nature, which means it’s less likely to cause gas or bloating. Methylcellulose can be a suitable option for individuals with sensitive stomachs or those prone to digestive discomfort.
    • Wheat Dextrin (Benefiber): Wheat dextrin is a soluble fiber derived from wheat starch. It dissolves easily in liquids and can be added to various beverages and foods without altering their texture. Wheat dextrin is a convenient way to increase daily fiber intake. It supports regularity and aids in maintaining digestive health.
    • Calcium Polycarbophil (FiberCon): Calcium polycarbophil is a synthetic fiber that absorbs water, softening stool and promoting bowel movements. It may be less likely to cause bloating or excessive gas compared to some other fiber supplements. Calcium polycarbophil is a suitable choice for those looking for a well-tolerated option.
    • Inulin and FOS (Fructooligosaccharides): Inulin and FOS are prebiotic fibers that support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. While they may not directly soften stool, they contribute to overall gut health. These fibers can improve the balance of the gut microbiome, which is essential for digestive and immune health.
    • Glucomannan (Konjac Root): Glucomannan is a water-soluble fiber derived from the konjac root. It has a high viscosity and can absorb a significant amount of water, creating a feeling of fullness in the stomach. Glucomannan is sometimes used as a weight loss aid due to its appetite-suppressing properties.
    • Oat Bran: Oat bran is rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber. It can help soften stool and promote regular bowel movements. Oat bran is also known for its heart-healthy benefits, as it can help lower cholesterol levels.
    • Acacia Gum (Acacia Fiber): Acacia gum, also known as gum arabic or acacia fiber, is primarily soluble fiber. Around 80-90% of its carbohydrate content is fiber, making it highly beneficial for digestive health. It forms a gel-like substance in the gut, aiding in bowel regularity and potentially soothing irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Acacia gum is known for being gentle on the digestive system, reducing the likelihood of gas and bloating. Additionally, it acts as a prebiotic, promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, thereby supporting overall gut health.
  • Magnesium: Two forms of magnesium stand out for their ability to act as gentle laxatives by attracting water into the intestines, softening stool, and promoting regular bowel movements. They work well for occasional constipation or as a natural remedy for ongoing issues. Here’s how these magnesium supplements work to promote healthy and regular bowel function.
    • Magnesium Citrate:
      • Dosage: The dosage of magnesium citrate for constipation relief can vary depending on individual needs and tolerances. A common starting dose is 240-400 milligrams (mg) per day, divided into two or three smaller doses. It’s important to begin with a lower dose and gradually increase it to avoid causing diarrhea. [PMC8191753]
      • Advantages: Magnesium citrate is estimated to be ~30% absorbable, so it is helpful in meeting your magnesium needs. It has a laxative effect due to its ability to draw water into the intestines. This water influx softens stool, increases its bulk, and stimulates bowel contractions, promoting regular bowel movements. Magnesium citrate is generally well-tolerated and can provide quick relief from constipation when used as directed.
    • Magnesium Oxide:
      • Dosage: The dosage of magnesium oxide for constipation typically ranges from 400 mg to 800 mg per day, divided into multiple doses. Like magnesium citrate, it’s important to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it to achieve the desired effect while avoiding excessive laxative effects. [PMC8191753]
      • Advantages: Magnesium oxide works similarly to magnesium citrate by attracting water into the intestines. This process softens the stool and facilitates bowel movements. While magnesium oxide is only absorbed at an estimated rate of 5%, it can still provide effective relief from constipation when used appropriately. It’s a cost-effective option and is available over-the-counter in various formulations.
  • Aloe Vera: Aloe vera supplements, specifically aloe latex, contain compounds with laxative properties. It can help stimulate bowel movements and alleviate constipation. [PMID: 37726070]
  • Herbal Supplements: These should be used with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional to prevent becoming dependant. Certain herbal supplements, like senna, cascara sagrada, or rhubarb root, are known for their laxative effects and are available in supplement form. [PMC8191753]
  • Digestive Enzymes: Digestive enzyme supplements may assist in breaking down food more efficiently, potentially reducing symptoms like bloating and constipation. They can help improve overall digestive function.
  • Vitamin C: Anecdotally, high-dose vitamin C supplements, such as ascorbic acid, can have a laxative effect when taken in excess. It can soften stool and promote bowel movements.
  • Probiotics: Probiotic supplements contain beneficial bacteria that can help regulate gut function. They may aid in balancing the gut microbiota and improving digestive regularity.

It’s important to note that supplements should be used as part of a comprehensive approach to managing constipation, which includes dietary and lifestyle modifications. Ideally, the choice of supplements and their dosages should be discussed with a healthcare provider to ensure they are appropriate for your individual needs and do not interact with any other medications or medical conditions you may have.

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Why Professionals Choose the Fullscript Formulary

Your health is on the line. Health professionals know that many other online and retail options set a very low bar for quality–sometimes amazingly low. The Fullscript formulary is the most secure online source for the highest quality brands securely sourced to assure freshness and purity. Here’s what makes Fullscript the best:

  • Meticulous vetting of brand quality. Health professionals trust Fullscript to continuously monitor the quality of each item on the platform. Other retailers operate with profit as their highest or only motive when choosing brands. Fullscript cares only about quality and reliability. Unlike discount stores, large online marketplaces, and other retailers you won’t find ingredients sourced from China or other questionable locations or companies.
  • Free shipping over $50 and best prices when you order through Supplement Sciences.
  • Freshness. Fullscript prioritizes freshness over bulk buying even if it means an increased risk of briefly being out of stock.
  • Top quality phone and online support. When you call, knowledgeable humans at Fullscript answer your questions.
  • How It Works:
    • Easy Sign-up & No Spam Email: Click the “View Product” button below to be taken to Fullscript’s login page where you can quickly create your secure account with just your name, email, and phone number. Then you will be taken directly to the product page.
    • Wide variety of supplement options: Once you sign in to your account, you are not limited to the products listed below. You will see similar items listed at the bottom of each product page on Fullscript.
    • Search For What You Want: Once inside Fullscript, you can search for the exact brands and products you want from their wide selection of quality brands.

Why Professionals Choose the Fullscript Formulary

Your health is on the line. Health professionals know that many other online and retail options set a very low bar for quality–sometimes amazingly low. The Fullscript formulary is the most secure online source for the highest quality brands securely sourced to assure freshness and purity. Here’s what makes Fullscript the best:

  • Meticulous vetting of brand quality. Health professionals trust Fullscript to continuously monitor the quality of each item on the platform. Other retailers operate with profit as their highest or only motive when choosing brands. Fullscript cares only about quality and reliability. Unlike discount stores, large online marketplaces, and other retailers you won’t find ingredients sourced from China or other questionable locations or companies.
  • Free shipping over $50 and best prices when you order through Supplement Sciences.
  • Freshness. Fullscript prioritizes freshness over bulk buying even if it means an increased risk of briefly being out of stock.
  • Top quality phone and online support. When you call, knowledgeable humans at Fullscript answer your questions.
  • How It Works:
    • Easy Sign-up & No Spam Email: Click the “View Product” button below to be taken to Fullscript’s login page where you can quickly create your secure account with just your name, email, and phone number. Then you will be taken directly to the product page.
    • Wide variety of supplement options: Once you sign in to your account, you are not limited to the products listed below. You will see similar items listed at the bottom of each product page on Fullscript.
    • Search For What You Want: Once inside Fullscript, you can search for the exact brands and products you want from their wide selection of quality brands.

Are These Supplements for Constipation Safe?

The safety of various supplements used for constipation management depends on several factors, including proper usage and individual health conditions. Fiber supplements are generally safe when taken as recommended and can help promote regular bowel movements without adverse effects. Fish oil is very safe unless taking blood thinners. High-dose vitamin C supplements, when taken within recommended limits, are safe and can provide additional health benefits. Probiotics are generally considered safe and can support digestive health. Digestive enzyme supplements are safe and can assist in efficient digestion.

Aloe vera can have laxative properties and should be used moderately. Magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide can be effective laxatives in appropriate doses but should be used cautiously, and it’s advisable to follow dosing guidelines.

Caution: Senna and cascara sagrada should be used under supervision to avoid dependence. However, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before adding any new supplement to your regimen, especially if you have underlying medical conditions or are taking medications to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your specific situation.

Medication Interactions With Supplements for Constipation

  • Fiber Supplements: Fiber supplements may reduce the absorption of certain medications when taken simultaneously. It’s advisable to take medications at least 1-2 hours before or after fiber supplements to avoid potential interactions.
  • Magnesium Citrate and Magnesium Oxide: Magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide may interact with certain medications, including antibiotics (e.g., tetracyclines), bisphosphonates (e.g., alendronate), and some heart medications. They can reduce the absorption and effectiveness of these drugs.
  • Fish Oil: Fish oil supplements can interact with blood-thinning medications (e.g., warfarin), increasing the risk of bleeding. It’s important to monitor your blood clotting levels if you’re taking both fish oil and blood thinners.
  • High-dose Vitamin C Supplements: High-dose vitamin C supplements can affect the absorption of certain medications, such as aluminum-containing antacids and certain antibiotics (e.g., tetracyclines). Separating the timing of these supplements and medications is advisable.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics are generally safe, but they may interact with immunosuppressant medications. If you are taking immunosuppressants, consult with a healthcare professional before using probiotics.
  • Aloe Vera: Aloe vera supplements may interact with certain medications, such as diuretics and heart medications, potentially affecting their absorption or effectiveness. Consult with a healthcare provider if you are taking these medications.
  • Senna and Cascara Sagrada: Senna and cascara sagrada are herbal laxatives and may interact with medications that affect electrolyte balance or potassium levels, such as diuretics. It’s essential to use them cautiously and under the guidance of a healthcare professional, especially if you are taking such medications.
  • Digestive Enzymes: Digestive enzymes are generally safe but may interact with medications that affect digestion, such as antacids. Separating the timing of these supplements and medications may be advisable.

Supplement Interactions:

  • Fiber Supplements: Fiber supplements may affect the absorption of other supplements, particularly fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K. Taking these vitamins at separate times from fiber supplements can help ensure adequate absorption.
  • Magnesium Citrate and Magnesium Oxide: High doses of magnesium supplements may lead to diarrhea when combined with other laxative supplements like senna or cascara sagrada. Care should be taken to avoid excessive laxative effects.
  • Fish Oil: Fish oil supplements may interact with other supplements containing vitamin E, potentially increasing the risk of bleeding. It’s advisable to monitor vitamin E intake when taking fish oil.
  • High-dose Vitamin C Supplements: High-dose vitamin C supplements may enhance the absorption of non-heme iron from plant-based sources like iron supplements or foods. This interaction can be beneficial for individuals with iron deficiency.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics can interact with prebiotic supplements, such as inulin or oligosaccharides. Prebiotics provide nourishment for probiotics, potentially enhancing their effectiveness in promoting gut health.
  • Aloe Vera: Aloe vera supplements may interact with other supplements like digestive enzymes, potentially improving their effectiveness in promoting digestive health.
  • Senna and Cascara Sagrada: Senna and cascara sagrada, both herbal laxatives, may interact with fiber supplements, potentially enhancing their effects in promoting regular bowel movements.
  • Digestive Enzymes: Digestive enzymes may interact with other supplements like probiotics, supporting the overall digestive process.

Please note that while these interactions are generally considered safe and may even have beneficial effects, individual responses may vary. It’s always a good practice to consult with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian before combining specific supplements to ensure they align with your health goals and needs.

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

To Sum It Up

The supplements discussed in this article can offer valuable support in managing constipation and promoting digestive health. Fiber supplements, magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide, high-dose vitamin C supplements, probiotics, aloe vera, senna, cascara sagrada, and digestive enzymes each bring their unique benefits to the table, aiding in regular bowel movements and overall gastrointestinal well-being.

Although all of these supplements can be beneficial, their individual effectiveness and safety depend on the the user’s specific health conditions. Therefore, it’s highly advisable to seek guidance from a Registered Dietitian or healthcare professional when considering the use of these supplements, especially if you have underlying health concerns or are taking other medications.


This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.


About the Author

Andrea Lee

Andrea is a Registered Nutritionist Dietitian on staff with NutriScape.