The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse states that over 4 million people in America suffer from "frequent constipation". Constipation can be caused by a number of factors including lifestyle choices, lack of fiber and fluids, aging, lack of regular routine and medication side effects. Look below to see some Healthism recommended tips to conquer this most unpleasant symptom.
I wish that being famous could prevent me from being constipated."
A fool is thirsty in the midst of water.
It's a really simple concept. The looser the materials are which flow through your bowel, the faster they will move. When it comes to constipation, those 8-10 glasses of water or other fluids per day are crucial to avoiding constipation's ugly face. You don’t have to restrict yourself to drinking only boring old water, though: almost any drink will help.
Fiber is friendly.
According to a Harvard School of Public Health study, getting at least 20 grams of fiber in your diet could cut your risk of constipation by almost half! Participants in the study who ate less than 7 grams in the study had the highest rates of constipation. What fiber does is add bulk to your stools which in turn makes your stool heavier so that it can find its way through your intestines swiftly.
Where are you going to get fiber? Why not start with high-fiber cereal, focusing on only getting wholegrain bread products, brown rice and consuming lots of fruits and veggies. The fiber in wheat bran and oat bran seems to be more effective than similar amounts of fiber from fruits and veggies. You may see an improvement sooner than you think!
Don't over-drug it
You have heard about over-doing it, but have you heard about over-drugging it? No? Well that's because we just invented the term for the purpose of this paragraph. Some experts estimate that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause up to 40 percent of constipation problems. Here's a list of meds to watch out for:
- Painkillers, especially narcotic-containing drugs
- Antacids that contain aluminum hydroxide (Alternagel, Alu-Cap, Alu-Tab, Amphojel, Dialume) and calcium carbonate (Rolaids, Mylanta, Maalox, Tums, etc.)
- Antispasmodic drugs
- Iron tablets
- Anticonvulsant drugs
Hit the road, Jack!
In one groundbreaking study, a bunch of sedentary (inactive) middle-aged people were put on a 30 minute walking program. The study, not surprisngly, proved that even a simple walk could cure constipation or at least relieve the symptoms. We also know if you mix up an increase in your exercise with more fiber you'll have even an easier time with your bowel movements. Go for it and hit the road jack!
Don't be such a prune...
No it's not an old wive's tale! Prunes have actually been proven to be one of the most effective ways to speed up your bowels. In one Boston University study, they were shown to be more effective than all other foods studied. We're not sure exactly why at this point, beyond the fact that they're fiber rich, but you may want to try eating a few plums a day, or even better yet hit two birds with one stone by drinking prune juice.
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC); Constipation; July 2007
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Fiber: How to Increase the Amount in Your Diet
- De Schryver AM et al. Effects of regular physical activity on defecation pattern in middle-aged patients complaining of chronic constipation., "Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology" April, 2005