How to Treat Constipation

If it’s been a while between bowel movements, you may be tempted to reach for an over-the-counter laxa­tive. While this may be good for temporary occasional use, you must be careful not to overuse them. You can become dependent on laxatives, and eventually your intestines become insensitive and no longer work properly.

The long-range plan for constipation

Don’t let yourself get weighed down by this uncom­fortable condition. While constipation is occasionally a symptom of a larger problem, most of the time it is simply a sign of not enough fiber or water in your diet. Before you reach for the laxatives, try some of the follow­ing suggestions for eliminating your constipation.


  • Fill up with fiber. Do you need to get some speed out of your bowels? One of the best and safest ways to get your bowel movements out of first gear (or park) is to eat a high-fiber diet. Fiber is the indigestible parts of plants. Since you don’t digest it, it moves through your system more quickly. Insoluble fiber, the kind that doesn’t dis­solve in water, helps constipation by holding water in your intestines, softening your stool. It’s easy to add fiber to your diet. Just make sure you add it gradually, because a sudden increase in fiber may cause gas, bloating, or increased consti­pation. Try adding about 10 grams of fiber at a time until you eat about 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily. Your breakfast cereal can provide a great way to start the day off with a healthy dose of fiber. Some, like General Mills Fiber One, offer up to 13 grams of fiber per serving. Other good sources of fiber include whole-wheat bread, vegetables, fruits, and beans.
  • Bottoms upl The simple task of lifting a glass of water to your lips six to eight times a day can make your trips to the bathroom much easier and more productive. Water helps soften your stool and move it more easily through your intestines. If you are also adding fiber to your diet, it is espe­cially important to drink lots of water.
  • Move your body to help move your bowels. Regular exercise will help keep you “regular.” Elderly people who are bedridden are much more likely to become constipated than those who are physically active. You don’t have to be able to run a marathon to keep your digestive process work­ing. Mild to moderate exercise, like a brisk walk every day, is enough to encourage your bowels to move along.
  • Make it routine. Just like babies, your bowels work much better if they are on a regular sched­ule, so try to go to the bathroom at about the same time every day. Mornings after breakfast are best, so pencil that time in on your calendar for a daily trip to the bathroom. Don’t despair if your appointment isn’t always a fruitful one. Remember, daily bowel movements are not neces­sary for good health. You just want to provide yourself with ample opportunities.
  • Sweeten the pot. Honey has been used as a treat­ment for various ailments, including constipation, for centuries. Recent studies confirm honey’s rep­utation as a laxative. Honey contains more fruc­tose than glucose. While these are both natural sugars, foods that have more fructose are harder for most people to absorb, so they move through your digestive system faster.
  • Pay attention! Your body tells you when it’s time to visit the bathroom. If you don’t heed these warnings and go, eventually you will become con­stipated. Consider it your body’s way of paying you back for ignoring it.
  • Constipation may not be a life-threatening condition, but it tends to be the only thing you think about when you’re suffering from a constricted bowel. If you get plenty of fiber and water, you can forget about having (or not having) a bowel movement and concentrate on something much more pleasant. Your life.

Filed Under: Health & Personal Care


About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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