Fewer than three bowel movements a week? Tired all the time? Tummy ache a lot? Feeing bloated? Sounds like you’re constipated.
Because bowel movements are affected by a number of variables such as diet, age, and daily activity, regularity can mean anywhere from three bowel movements a day to three a week. Stool should be formed, but not too hard, and you shouldn’t have to strain a lot to pass it.
FOUR BASIC CAUSES
1. Not eating enough dietary fiber.
Add some good fiber sources to your diet, such as:
• Bran and other whole grains found in cereals, breads, and brown rice
• Vegetables, such as brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots, asparagus, kale, avocado
• Fresh or dried fruits, such as raisins, apricots, raspberries, blackberries
(Note: Women aged 18 to 50 need 25 grams of fiber, daily. After 50, they need 21 grams, daily.)
2. Not drinking enough water.
Drink 8 glasses of water, plain seltzer or soda water, every day. Avoid drinks containing sugar or caffeine.
3. Not getting enough exercise.
Consult your doctor for an exercise program that’s right for your age, health, and available time. Not only will exercise help your constipation, it will also be good for your heart, your energy level, and your disposition.
4. Not taking the time to respond to an urge to go the bathroom.
There are very few things in life that are more important than going to the bathroom when your body tells you to. Like so many other bodily functions, it can truly be a “use it or lose it” opportunity, and you really don’t want to be on the losing side of that one.
PERSISTANT, CHRONIC CONSTIPATION
If your constipation is not relieved by dealing with the four basic causes, you should see your doctor, for two reasons. First, you may need a laxative, and your doctor is the best person to recommend one that is right for you; second, chronic constipation can be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as: irritable bowel syndrome, colorectal cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, depression, or an under-active thyroid gland.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
Many people feel that chronic constipation is a rare affliction. In fact, it is a serious problem, affecting 15% to 20% of all Americans.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
• webmd.com - Constipation basics
• yourwellness.guide - High-fiber foods
• webmd.com - Constipation causes
• webmd.com - Facts vs myths
• everydayhealth.com - Too much fiber
• webmd.com - The right amount of diet, drinking water, and exercise