The Double-Edged Sword of Constipation

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Constipation is uncomfortable-physically and even just talking about it. Let’s just say it’s not high on the list of topics people want to discuss. It is, however, a problem that 63 million Americans will encounter.

The problem is exacerbated for seniors, who often experience higher rates of constipation. It usually occurs a result of other health issues like your diet, your mental state, a lack of hydration, and insufficient exercise. And although constipation is rarely a serious condition, it is always an uncomfortable inconvenience.

Constipation occurs when you’re unable to have a bowel movement for an extended period of time. It causes discomfort in your stomach and, when you do try to go, it is often quite painful and incomplete: you’re not getting rid of everything you should be.

Because it’s normal for some people to have a bowel movement every day while others may only need to go every three days, it’s hard to place a specific time frame on how long it takes for constipation to be diagnosed. It’s really on an individual basis, but if you’re going a maximum of twice a week and it’s painful, you’re constipated.

The good thing is that constipation can be relatively easy to take care of. It is usually the result of not drinking enough water, eating enough fiber, or getting enough exercise. Simply becoming more mobile may be all you need to get things moving regularly.

As far as diet goes, there are a number of foods you can eat to help increase your fiber intake. One fruit that I’ve found works extremely well are pears Including pears in your daily diet is a great way to get your bowels moving and flush the waste from your system, and it can have a big impact on your digestive system

Some people will recommend products like “Metamucil.” You also might have heard about an herb called psyllium, and some people recommend sprinkling psyllium husk on your cereal in the morning. In my experience, although it does work well to soften stool, psyllium can often cause some real discomfort in the gut. And if you’re constipated, it may only make the pain worse. Psyllium draws water into your gut-that’s what can cause bloating, and, in some cases, pain.

To treat constipation, I tend to recommend a few other ideas. The first is to increase water intake. Water is essential in softening the stool and helps fiber do its job. In order for fiber to work effectively in your system to help you pass stool, it needs to draw water into your intestine. This is what leads to softer stool and helps stool pass easily. Increasing fiber intake, therefore, is reliant on increasing water as well. It’s possible you’re getting enough fiber and not enough water.

Try to get about 30 g of fiber per day in your diet. Oats, and whole grains are good sources of fiber. Fruits like apples, pears, and berries are also high in fiber and easy to grab on the go. As was mentioned earlier, pears in particular are a great catalyst in triggering a bowel movement.

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