Constipation is the medical term for when a person has three or fewer bowel movements a week. This can be caused by eating foods rich in animal fats, which is commonly found in dairy products, meats, and eggs. Too much refined sugar with too little fiber in your diet can also cause constipation. Inadequate fluid intake and consuming too much caffeine and alcohol will also lead to having issues in the bathroom. Here are five things you can do to relieve your constipation. See your doctor if constipation has been a frequent issue or it is accompanied with serious pain or excessive bleeding.
- Consider your diet.
One of the biggest causes of constipation can be your daily diet. If you eat foods that come from animal fats, you are putting a lot of strain on your system. Chances are, you’re also not getting enough fiber. Foods such as milk, cheese, meat, eggs, butter, and other such foods cause the digestive system to work harder to process. Limit these foods when possible.
- Consume more fiber.
Increasing fiber in your diet will help your digestive system move smoothly. The Institute of Medicine states that men ages 50 years or younger should have at least 38 grams of fiber daily. Men over the age of 50 should consume 30 grams of fiber. Women ages 50 and younger should consume 25 grams, and women who are over the age of 50 should consume 21 grams daily.
Fiber can be found in several foods. Anything that falls in the category of whole-grain products, fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, legumes, nuts, and seeds are going to be the best choices for fiber. Be sure to avoid juices, white breads, and canned fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise regularly.
Regular physical activity is essential in bowel health. Daily exercises that involve the knee-to-chest positions activate bowel movements. Spending 10 to 15 minutes in these positions can decrease constipation issues. Regular walking can also help the digestion system function properly. For those who are already fit, consider more aerobic exercises such as running, jogging, or swimming.
- Stay hydrated.
Are you getting enough hydration? Caffeine is a diuretic and can decrease the amount of water in your body. Alcohol can also contribute to dehydration. It’s important to drink six to eight glasses of water a day in addition to beverages with meals. If you must drink soda, coffee, alcohol, or anything with caffeine, drink another 8-ounce glass of water.
- Consider laxatives.
Laxatives come in many forms, including lubricant (mineral oils), emollient (stool softeners), osotic and hyperosmolar (hydration agents), and stimulant laxatives (instantaneous stimulation of bowels). Each one provides a different kind of relief, and speaking to your doctor can help you figure out which is best. Avoid any laxatives with senna (Senokot) or buckthorn (Rhamnus purshiana) because it could damage the lining of your bowel and injure nerve endings in the colon. Regular use of laxatives can limit your body’s ability to absorb vitamin D and calcium, so use this medicine for short-term relief.
- Create a schedule.
By creating a schedule, you get your body in the habit of going to the bathroom at the same time during the day. Whether it’s in the morning, after meals, or at night, provide yourself enough time to use the restroom peacefully. Being stressed and straining will only cause more issues. After a while, your body will grow accustomed to the schedule, and you will be able to go to the bathroom at this time every day.