The most efficient way to treat many gastrointestinal conditions is to prevent them in the first place, and this holds true for constipation, a common condition that affects around 4 million Americans each year, according to research. If you’re prone to this uncomfortable bowel issue, use the following tips on how to prevent constipation and keep your gastrointestinal tract happy and healthy.
Fiber Intake: The Key to Avoiding Constipation
Perhaps the most effective and easy way to keep your bowel movements regular is to adjust your diet. Fiber plays an important role in helping stool move through your intestines, so the first step to take is making sure you’re getting enough of this nutrient.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the average adult needs around 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories he or she consumes. So if you eat around 2,500 calories per day, you should aim for 35 grams of fiber.
To achieve this nutritional goal, you may need to incorporate high-fiber foods into your meals. Fruits and vegetables, especially raspberries, artichokes, peas, pears, and apples, are good sources of the nutrient, and they contain many other essential vitamins and minerals, as well. You can also get fiber from whole-wheat bread and pasta, beans, legumes, and nuts.
If you don’t currently eat a lot of fiber, you should slowly ramp up consumption of the nutrient, as increasing intake suddenly can cause bloating and discomfort.
Reduce Sugar and Carbohydrate Intake
Carbohydrates and sugars in general may add to the problem. Everything from bagels and bread to pasta and pastries can contribute to ongoing issues. Overall, reducing sugar consumption can help aid with constipation problems.
Water is another key factor when it comes to avoiding bowel problems. The Chicago Tribune reported that around half of Americans do not drink enough liquid on a daily basis, and the source notes that you should drink more than four 8-oz. cups each day.
Another way to prevent constipation and improve your overall health is to increase your physical activity. If you exercise several times a week, you’ll improve the muscle activity in your intestines, which will keep stool moving.
Listen to Your Bowels
Finally, it’s important to listen to your body when you’re trying to avoid constipation. When you feel as though you need to go to the bathroom, don’t wait too long or suppress the urge. Give yourself time to pass bowel movements, and try not to hurry through the act. It may seem trivial, but allowing your gastrointestinal system to function without pressure can go a long way toward preventing future issues.
If you’re suffering from persistent constipation, it may be time to make an appointment to take with a gastroenterologist.