If you’re suffering from hard stools or infrequent bowel movements, it’s likely due to an inadequate intake of fiber and other lifestyle habits. Constipation is not pleasant. The good news is that you can do something about it.
Of course, if constipation is accompanied by severe pain or blood in your stool, or if you go longer than three weeks without a normal bowel movement, contact Dr. Bharat Pothuri here at GastroDoxs in Cypress, Texas, to set up a consultation. Chronic, long-term constipation can be a sign of a serious gastrointestinal problem.
But, if you just have occasional constipation, lifestyle changes can go a long way in helping you find relief. Here are some tips to help make your digestive tract run more smoothly.
Getting enough fluid helps soften your stool so it passes more easily. Drink a glass of water first thing when you wake up and continue drinking fluids throughout the day.
Adding more exercise helps keep your digestive tract moving. Try taking a walk right after meals — even if these walks only last 10-20 minutes. Park far out in the parking lot so you have to walk more to get to your destination.
Join a gym (or use the one you belong to) so you get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every day. This is the amount recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for overall good health, which includes bowel health.
Don’t hold it
If you have the urge to have a bowel movement, get to the restroom right away. Holding it only contributes to constipation.
Eat more fiber
Eating an adequate amount of fiber helps prevent constipation. Major health organizations recommend 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams for men who are 50 and younger. You need just a few grams less if you’re older than 50.
Fiber binds waste in your colon, making stool easier to pass. It increases the size and weight of your stool and makes it softer.
Add more fiber by choosing whole-grain products over white breads and rice. Select almonds, popcorn, or an orange, apple, or berries as a snack, rather than processed bars or chips. Have a bowl of bran cereal instead of refined corn flakes at breakfast.
Beans, like lentils and chickpeas, and vegetables, like carrots, squash, and broccoli, are great fiber-rich additions to meals.
We can help you put together a meal plan that includes lots of healthy fiber to ease your constipation symptoms.
Take a fiber supplement
While a fiber supplement may not be the first choice for adding more of this nutrient to your diet, it can be a necessity if you just can’t get enough through your diet.
Pill and powder forms of fiber are available at most drug and grocery stores. We can recommend the best options if you go the supplement route.
Add fiber slowly
Increasing your fiber intake too quickly can sabotage your efforts. When you add fiber all at once, you may end up with cramps and gas that discourage you.
If you live in the greater Houston area and need help easing constipation, call GastroDoxs for a consultation or book an appointment online. We can help you find relief.