Constipation

Prevention

By incorporating healthy habits into your daily routine, you can prevent constipation. Drinking water, consuming a high fiber diet, following good bathroom habits, and regular activity each contribute toward preventing constipation.

Natural Ways to Avoid Irregularity

Eat more Fiber

Found in many fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals, fiber helps your body develop soft, bulky stools. In addition to adding healthy fiber to your diet, try to avoid over-processed foods with little fiber, such as chips, pizza, ice cream, frozen dinners and instant potatoes.

Drink Adequate Fluids

Keeping your stools soft and easy to pass requires plenty of fluids. Concentrate on drinking unsweetened fruit juices, herbal teas, and just plain water, as caffeine- and alcohol-containing beverages tend to dry out your system.

Get Plenty of Exercise

Just a 20-30 minute walk or any other regular exercise can help prevent constipation. Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.

Don't Ignore the Urge to have a Bowel Movement

People with busy schedules, children who don't want to interrupt their play, and folks who don't like to use public facilities are just a few examples of those who sometimes don't stop and take the time to have a bowel movement. Repeatedly ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement, or just delaying a stop at the bathroom, can actually make us lose the ability to feel that urge which — in turn — can lead to constipation. So, when the urge comes, pay attention.

Ask your Doctor or Pharmacist if Medications are Causing your Constipation

There are many over-the-counter and prescription medications known to be associated with constipation. (Click here to view list.)

Constipation that does not respond to Lifestyle and Diet Changes

For occasional constipation that doesn't respond to lifestyle and diet changes, take Senokot with Natural Vegetable Laxative Ingredient for gentle, overnight relief.

Fluids are Key

Keeping your stools soft and easy to pass requires plenty of fluids. Concentrate on unsweetened fruit juices, herbal teas and just plain water. Try to avoid caffeine- and alcohol-containing beverages which can cause you to urinate more frequently, and so, lose much needed fluids.

How we Eat and What we Eat

Hurried meals, skipped meals, some weight-loss diets and meals eaten on the run can all contribute to — or aggravate — constipation. Try to sit down, relax and enjoy your meals in a leisurely manner. Family mealtimes are probably not the best times to talk about subjects — such as homework, who scratched the car, or the latest credit-card bill — that make family members tense and nervous.

If we want to avoid constipation, what we eat is important, too. And most important of all is to just include more fiber in our diet. Found in many fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals, fiber helps your body develop soft, bulky stools that are easy to pass. In addition to adding healthy fiber to your diet, try to avoid over-processed foods with little fiber, such as chips, pizza, ice cream, frozen dinners and instant potatoes.

If you decide to include more high-fiber foods in your diet, you may want to increase your fiber intake slowly in order to avoid bloating, gas or unnecessary stomach upset. And remember: it usually takes a few days before you will feel the positive effects of your healthy, new regimen.

Fiber in your Diet

Why Consumer Fiber?

When people eat too few fiber-containing foods, the stool may become hard, dry and small. High fiber foods add bulk to waste products in your body, which tends to create larger, softer stools that move more rapidly through the colon — an obvious help when constipation is a problem.

Because our bodies cannot digest fiber, foods that are low in fat and high in fiber tend to be lower in calories as well. Another plus for weight watchers is the fact that fiber takes up space in the stomach, making us feel full so we eat less.

What is Dietary Fiber?

What your mother or grandmother may have called "roughage" scientists call fiber. No matter what you call it, it is recommended that you and your family consume adequate amounts. Fiber is not a specific food but an indigestible, complex carbohydrate found in plants. Fiber is divided into two categories — water soluble and water insoluble. Soluble fibers include substances such as gum and pectin which are found in fruits such as prunes, apples, oranges, pears, peaches, grapes, seeds, and such vegetables as oat bran, dried beans, oatmeal, barley and rye. Insoluble fibers include cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin and are found in some vegetables, dried beans, wheat bran, seeds, popcorn, brown rice, and whole grain products such as breads, cereals, and pasta.

How Much Fiber Should I Consume?

For adults 50 and under, the Academy of Nutrition and Dieticians recommends 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 38 grams of fiber per day for men.

Increasing your consumption of complex carbohydrates is the best way to increase fiber intake. Just make sure you increase your intake of fiber gradually as ingesting too much fiber too quickly can cause bloating, diarrhea, gas and general discomfort.

Foods that will Help you Increase your Fiber Intake

  1. Eat the skin and membranes of cleaned fruits and vegetables.
  2. Choose bran and whole grain breads / cereals daily.
  3. Always accompany an increase in fiber with an increase in water.
  4. Eat less processed foods and more fresh ones.
  5. When you can't get enough fiber from fruits and vegetables, a fiber supplement may be appropriate.

Top Ten Fiber Foods

  1. Dried beans, peas, and other legumes (This includes baked beans, kidney beans, split peas, dried limas, garbanzos, pinto beans and black beans.)
  2. Bran cereals
  3. Fresh or frozen lima beans or green peas
  4. Dried fruit, topped by figs, apricots and dates
  5. Raspberries, blackberries and strawberries
  6. Sweet corn, on the cob or cut off in kernels
  7. Whole-wheat and other whole-grain cereal products
  8. Rye, oats, buckwheat and stone-ground cornmeal breads, pastas, pizza, pancakes and muffins
  9. Broccoli
  10. Baked potato with the skin

Exercise

Moderate exercise helps you to avoid and to relieve constipation. But more than just helping you to avoid constipation, exercise can make you feel better all over by giving you more energy.

Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen. It's generally recommended that you exercise at least three times a week, steadily for 20 to 30 minutes, or enough to raise your heart rate. Start gradually and work up to a full workout. Be sure to include proper warm-up stretches and a cool-down period, as well. As you probably know, putting yourself through a tough workout without building up to it could result in injuries.

Walking is an excellent way to start any exercise program. You can walk outside when it's temperate, or inside a gym or large shopping mall in bad or cold weather. For extra incentive, you may consider consulting a fitness expert or joining a fitness center. An instructor can help you set up an exercise schedule and keep you motivated. Most health clubs will also do a fitness test to help assess your fitness level.

Whatever you do, choose an exercise routine that fits nicely into your daily routine so that the benefits become a regular and enjoyable part of your life.