How can I prevent constipation?

High Fiber Foods

Constipation is difficulty moving bowels hard, infrequent, stools and straining to defecate. People who are constipated often feel bloated and uncomfortable, as the bowel becomes inflated with gas or liquid.

If you suffer from constipation, you’re not alone. It’s Americans’ most common digestive complaint. And while almost 30 percent of Americans, older than 65, claim they’re constipated the disorder affects people of all ages.

What causes constipation?

Medication, changes in diet, excess iron, lack of exercise, inadequate fluid intake, pregnancy and certain medical conditions all can cause constipation. But, the number one reason is a low fiber diet.

In Western societies, the 20th century has brought progress, but it’s also led to more refined foods. As a result, Americans get approximately 5-10 grams of fiber daily, far short of the 20-30 grams the National Cancer Institute recommends.

People who eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain cereals and breads are less likely to complain of constipation. Fiber, which is not digested in the body, can absorb up to 30 times its own weight in water, so material in the digestive tract takes on bulk and a soft texture as it passes through the body. Without dietary fiber, the incidence of hemorrhoids, diverticular disease, irritable bowel syndrome and even rectal cancer has been shown to increase.

How can I stay regular?

Your health provider will probably ask you to increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Foods high in fiber include fruits, whole-grain cereals and breads, beans, brown rice and many vegetables.

But, getting enough fiber in your diet may be difficult due to the large quantity of food needed. So, your health provider likely will recommend a fiber supplement to make up for the shortfall in your diet.

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber products don’t dissolve completely in water and can be gritty and, like high-fiber foods, can cause gas and cramping.

Others treatments include medications such as stool softeners and stimulant laxatives. Stimulant laxatives, in particular, should be used with caution because they rely on chemicals, not natural fiber, and can be habit-forming.

How can I prevent constipation?

Getting more fiber is the most important first step. Regular exercise and drinking enough water also help. You may want to avoid or limit constipating foods, such as eggs, cheese and bananas.

But, in most cases, increasing fiber is enough. A great fiber supplement like PoopDoc’s Daily Fiber Supplement is a safe and convenient way to make sure you’re getting enough fiber.

While constipation is rarely serious, sudden changes in bowel frequency or size sometimes signal more threatening illness.

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