Quick Tips for Constipation Relief

Many people wrongly assume that they are constipated because they don’t have a daily bowel movement. In fact, it’s perfectly normal for bowels to move as often as three times a day or as infrequently as once in 3 or 4 days. Regularity is different for everyone.

There are two types of constipation: atonic and spastic. Atonic constipation, the more common type, occurs when the colon muscles are weak; it develops when the diet lacks adequate fluids and fiber. Spastic constipation (sometimes called irritable bowel syndrome) is characterized by irregular bowel movements and may be caused by stress, nervous disorders, excessive smoking, irritating foods, and obstructions of the colon. In addition, chronic constipation can cause hemorrhoids.

Drink hot liquids
Hot liquids help stimulate the bowels. Drink a cup of herbal tea or a glass of hot water with lemon, or coffee in the morning.

Nutrition Connection

The foods you eat can cause or relieve constipation.
These general strategies can help:

-Increase intake of dietary fiber. The insoluble type of fiber that absorbs water but otherwise passes through the bowel intact is instrumental in preventing constipation. Doctors recommend a fiber intake of 25 to 38 g daily. Note that any increase in high-fiber food consumption should be gradual and accompanied by more fluids. A high-fiber foods include wheat bran, bran cereals, whole grain products, legumes, fruits and vegetables.

-Drink plenty of water. Adults should drink at least eight glasses of nonalcoholic fluids every day. When a low-fiber diet coincides with a low-fluid intake, the stool becomes dry and hard, and increasingly difficult to move through the intestines.

-Avoid alcohol. Alcohol causes dehydration and prevents the body from properly absorbing nutrients.

Beyond the Diet

Here are a few steps to better bowel health:

-Don’t delay trips to the bathroom. Poor bowel movement habits, such as putting off going to the toilet despite an urge to go, can cause constipation.

-Exercise. Regular physical activity helps stimulate bowel movements; inactivity can cause constipation.

-Use laxatives sparingly. Excessive laxative use reduces normal colon function. If a laxative is needed, one made of psyllium or another high-fiber stool softener is best.

-Talk to your doctor about medications. One side effect of medication, especially codeine and other narcotic painkillers, reduce peristalsis, the rhythmic muscle movements that push digested food through the bowels.

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