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CONSTIPATION

FOODS THAT HEAL

  • Bran cereals
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Berries
  • Water

    WHO’S AFFECTED

  • People who do not eat enough fiber
  • People with diseases such as diabetes, thyroid disease, or Parkinson’s disease
  • People on medications such as pain relievers, antidepressants, or diuretics
  • People with serious medical conditions such as colorectal cancer or autoimmune diseases
    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

    QUICK TIP:

  • 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