We spend a lot of our lives waiting around. We wait in line at the grocery store. We wait for appointments that are two hours late. We wait for the kids to get home with the car. Who wants to wait for a simple bowel movement? It’s no fun.
Unfortunately, this is one area where a lot of us do a lot of waiting. Constipation is very common, and for some people it happens all the time. Everyone’s “schedule” differs. You may be on a normal timetable. Although constipation is a simple problem, defining it gets a little more complicated. Doctors agree that there’s no such thing as a “normal” bowel movement schedule. Some individuals have bowl movements twice a day, other three or four times a week, just because you don’t have a bowel movement every morning doesn’t mean that you’re constipated. As a general rule, doctors say that you’re constipated if you don’t have a bowel movement three times a week, or if you have other symptoms, as well, such as cramps or a lot of gas.
Many people turn to laxatives to have regular bowel movements. But most of the time these medications simply aren’t necessary and can even be dangerous. A better choice to make some simple changes in your diet and lifestyle. In most cases, just eating a little more fiber and getting more exercise and fluids is all you need to stop constipation for good.
Here’s what doctors advise.
Begin with fiber . The most effective way by far to stop constipation – for good – is to eat more foods that are high in dietary fiber. Fiber is not digested as it moves through the intestines, and that’s exactly why it’s so helpful. Similar to a sponge, fiber absorbs tremendous amounts of water. When it reaches the colon it makes stools that much larger and easier to pass.
Doctors recommend getting at least twenty-five to thirty-five grams of dietary fiber a day. That sounds like a lot, and it would be if you ate it all at once. But if you eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes – not all at one meal, but throughout the day – you naturally get all the fiber you need, and then some. Even adding two or three fiber-rich foods to your diet every day – having oat bran for breakfast, for example and a few slices of whole grain bread at lunch and a serving of vegetables and beans at dinner may be all it takes to stop your constipation for good.
H 2O – and hold the ‘joe .’ A lot of people simply don’t drink much, and this can cause the stools to get dry and hard. Drinking eight to twelve glasses of water or juice a day will lubricate the insides of your intestines so that stools can move along more easily. Doctors often recommend that people drink two glasses of cold water every morning. Not only will you benefit from the extra fluids, but the cold water can “wake up” the intestines and start them moving. Infact, drinking more fluids is good for your general health.
Incidentally, coffee, colas, and caffeinated teas may be wet, but they aren’t effective as other fluids. In fact, they have a mild diuretic effect, meaning they can actually remove more fluids from your body than they add. Also, tea contains compounds called tennis, which may play role in causing constipation.
Try a little rhubarb . Fresh rhubarb contains a lot of fiber, and it is a traditional remedy for constipation. Some experts recommend putting a little rhubarb in the blender and making a juice. Take a small amount at first, because for some people it can be very powerful and fast –acting. Important: use rhubarb stalks only, because the leaves can be toxic.
Put your hands to work . According to experts in acupressure, rubbing the fleshy area between your thumb and index finger can help stimulate many bodily functions, including digestion. Periodically pinching and rubbing this area, using light pressure, may help get your bowels moving again.
Stay active . When you move your body, your intestines will often get moving, too. Doctors have found that regular exercise can be essential for stopping constipation. Simply walking a few times a day, riding a bike, or even going dancing will keep all your muscles, including those in the digestive tract, working well.
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