Constipation is often a painful and stressful experience. But tackling it may be easier than you think!
Constipation is not uncommon, as it is believed to affect up to 30 percent of kids. More and more adults are also experiencing this unpleasant condition as a result of unhealthy eating habits and little physical activity.
Definition and Causes
Constipation is identified by the National Institutes of Health as having fewer than three bowel movements a week over the span of at least two weeks. It is often accompanied by abdominal discomfort and the passing of dry, hard stools.
Chronic constipation has a number of causes. These include being an older adult, stress, taking iron supplements, certain medications, inadequate fiber intake, lack of physical activity and dehydration.
Contact a healthcare provider if you or your child’s condition lasts longer than two weeks or is accompanied by a fever, vomiting, distension of the abdomen or blood in the stool.
Treatment and prevention of constipation usually begins with diet and lifestyle changes meant to increase the speed at which stool moves through the intestines.
Here are 3 simple things you can do to get back to a regular routine:
- Focus on Fiber – Fiber helps to keep food moving efficiently through the body. Unfortunately, many Americans fall short of getting in the recommended amounts of fiber in their diets. Women should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day while men require around 38 grams. Dietary fiber is found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. You can meet your daily fiber needs by consuming 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups vegetables every day, along with whole grains and legumes.
- Stay Hydrated – Fiber in your diet is similar to a new sponge. It needs water to plump up. Not getting enough water to help the fiber move along in your body may result in constipation. Make sure to aim for 6 to 8 cups of water daily.
- Get Active – Physical activity increases muscle activity in your intestines helping to keep you regular. Aim for 30 minutes of light physical activity most days of the week.
Start the New Year right! Be proactive by fueling your body with healthy food, plenty of water, and daily exercise. Your body will thank you for choosing a healthy lifestyle.